Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Solstice beckons

As the days grow ever shorter we huddle round our fires and wildlife tends to be furthest from our thoughts. However, here are some reminders about what is going on out there - and some suggestions about how you might help.
First, there's a petition to be signed...especially as Derbyshire has a particularly dismal record when it comes to raptor persecution. An e-petition submitted to the department of the environment has recently been accepted by the government and added to the official list of e-Petitions website. If 100,000 people sign the petition, the issue of 'Vicarious Liability' will be debated in the House of Commons.
The petition, as you will see, requires the owners of land, not just their employees (such as gamekeepers) to be liable to prosecution if birds of prey are illegally killed on their property or if employees are found in possession of the illegal chemicals that are used to poison them.
Please visit http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/23089 to sign up. It only takes a few seconds.
Many thanks.
Second, December is a good month to join your local wildlife trust or give membership as a gift. You can do this through the national website www.wildlifetrusts.org/ or, in the case of Derbyshire, via their recently re-vamped website at www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org. Incidentally, the website does have links to this project (under 'projects' and also to the
'wildlife diary' that a certain someone writes for the Trust each week and which mentions the peregrines at regular intervals.....)
Thirdly, you could make a donation to a wildlife charity of your choice perhaps, instead of asking for a present you don't really need. The peregrine project or a wildlife trust are obvious candidates....as is (for me) Birdlife Malta (www.birdlifemalta.org), a dedicated group trying to counter the appalling shooting of migrant birds (from swallows to eagles) passing over that island. There are many more very worthwhile wildlife charities out there of course so do plump for your favourite ones.
The bid for a grant to sustain this project is nearing completion and should be handed in to the Heritage Lottery Fund before the end of the month.
A big thank you to everyone who took the trouble to send in their comments and tributes to the project. These have helped us enormously to show the level of support for our work and to indicate just what an effect the birds have had on so many of you.
The artwork accompanying this post is by Noel Cusa (top) and Mike Warren. Noel worked in industry all his life with painting as an occasional hobby. When he retired he started to paint in earnest and you can see the level of his achievement. His mentor was the great Charles Tunnicliffe. Charles' book The Peregrine Sketchbook, contains many wonderful paintings of peregrines on the cliffs of Anglesey where he lived (available on Amazon for £9).
Mike Warren lives in Nottinghamshire and has been a wildlife artist for many years, starting out in graphic design. These field sketches are from a calendar he produced many years ago.
I think you'll agree that both artists in their different styles capture the character of the bird to perfection.
Finally, the peregrine 'bible', written by the late Derek Ratcliffe (The Peregrine, Poyser Books) is also available online, though for rather more money unless you can pick one up second hand.....

Nick B (DWT)
Ps, Finally finally, The DVD on The Peregrines of Derby is also still available via the DWT website...I almost forgot to mention that!

Friday, 11 November 2011

Tony Grantham, an interview with him & a Raptor Rescue

Webcam Update:
Derby City Council whose network connections we use for our webcams has changed its website today. If you are having difficulty accessing the normal webcam pages, please use the links in the Webcam Tab on our blog's homepage.

Hear Tony's long interview on BBC Radio Derby on Monday at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/p00lw0bf  (it's 1hr 8 minutes in)
News has reached us that Tony Grantham, the cathedral's Head Verger for the last eleven years, has just resigned from his post and will leave the cathedral's employment at the end of January 2012 to begin work in the family business, which urgently needs more manpower.
Tony has been an essential element in the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project since it began way back in 2005.
It was he who rang Nick B at the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust early in 2005, hoping that the trust could provide some clues as to why he and the other vergers were finding dead birds on the pavements outside the cathedral.
And, once he knew about the peregrines, it was Tony
who quickly became interested in them and helped to 'unlock cathedral doors' for us, both real and imagined.
He gave us access to the tower to look both for bird remains and for the birds themselves and he quickly became an avid peregrine watcher and web cam addict in his own right.
It is fair to say that without his help and guidance in
those early years especially, this project might well not exist today. In particular, he managed to persuade the cathedral hierarchy at the time to allow Nick M and his mate, Nick E, to fix the nest platform. Ever since, Tony has bent over backwards to help us and the watch point volunteers in all manner of ways.
He has helped with rescuing fallen youngsters, helped organise the ringing of the chicks and the various annual nest clean-up operations. He found us somewhere to store the gear for the Watch Points, looked after the donations, brought in signs when we had forgotten to do so and drove back to the cathedral from home to help out when we urgently needed it.
Tony always has a cheerful disposition and we couldn't have wished for a better Head Verger to assist us.
The good news is that Tony will continue to be part of the project as a volunteer next year, helping at special events, opening up the tower for us when we need evening or early morning access for ringing etc - so we are not losing him entirely.
We wish him well working alongside his wife Dawn in their family business which has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years.
Tony: you have been a real friend and an amazing advocate for the peregrines. You have been the 'quiet man' of the three of us, always willing to help and to assist.
We will miss your cheerful presence at the cathedral hugely! With luck we'll lure you back to help out from time to time - if you can get some free time that is!

Nicks M and B

The photos show Tony watching as chick 005 was rescued in 2008 (top) and standing by as another rescued youngster was released on the tower roof (below).

Raptor Rescue: last Friday I got a message that a peregrine was trapped in the huge Westfield shopping centre in the city so I quickly set off to investigate. As I suspected, the bird wasn't a peregrine but was a sparrowhawk. It had chased some avian prey inside the large entrance lobby and found itself behind a huge wall of glass. It was about 30 feet up and would never find its way out. The maintenance staff quickly brought a cherry picker along and I climbed
into the bucket cab and was hoisted aloft as an audience of onlookers gathered below. Fortunately the bird was easy to catch and release, much to the disgust of the fleeing local feral pigeons. It's not unusual for sparrowhawks to end up inside buildings as their prey seeks cover. They fly upwards and rarely make their own way out.
All's well that end's well on this occasion!

Nick B (DWT)
Photo; the male sparrowhawk just prior to release. It was panting but flew off strongly into the blue beyond.

Monday, 7 November 2011

The Big Two Million

Derby's peregrine falcons now have a global reach.
But can we do more to reach new audiences closer to home?
This month saw the number of online visits or “hits” to the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project’s webcameras top the 2 million mark. This is a real milestone for us, especially as it also marks the start of a new phase in our project.
Beginning next nesting season we want to bring live video streaming and sound to the public and to schools, and we want to increase the amount of outreach work we undertake, especially to minority audiences. We would also like to bring live 24 hour camera coverage to the cathedral itself in some way. To this end we are preparing a small grant application to the Heritage Lottery to get funds to take forward these and other plans.

We Seek Your Views
We would love to hear from you if you’ve enjoyed watching Derby City's peregrine falcons - and especially if you really get a lot out of them.

In previous years we received lots of lovely comments about the project. But now we seek answers to a few specific questions – and maybe your ideas for a title for our funding bid, too. (Your answers will help us formulate that bid.)

The sort of things we would like to know include:

1. Has watching our birds changed your life in any way?
2. Have you gone on to a greater involvement with wildlife as a result? (e.g. joined any organisations, gone to meetings, attended events you wouldn't have gone to otherwise?)
3. Have you taken any other actions for wildlife? (e.g. donated to projects, become a volunteer, or campaigned against something as a result of being involved with our peregrines, or reading the blog?
4. Have you got someone else as hooked as you are? e.g. at work? at home? or at school? If you have persuaded others to watch the peregrine webcams, what was their reaction?
5. If you suffer from an illness or disability, what difference has the project made to your life, health or happiness?
6. What improvements would you like to see, and what new audiences ought we to try to reach? Over 60s? Disabled? etc. and how can we achieve this?
7. Finally, because we’re keen to understand the economic benefits of Derby’s peregrines, do tell us if they’ve influenced you to make special trips to Derby, where you came from, and what else you visited whilst here.

We need responses fairly quickly - so do please email us your feedback at enquiries@derbyshirewt.co.uk or simply give us any other thoughts on the value of the Peregrine Project, and any reasons why you think it should be enhanced with lottery money. It's possible your comments might be compiled into the evidence we submit to the Heritage Lottery Fund. Alternatively, sign in to post a comment here on this blog.

What's in a Name?
Our funding bid needs a title. Can you help us choose one from the shortlist below? It needs to sum up the mix of conservation, community engagement and the whole ethos of what we've achieved so far. We've selected six options. Email us your favourite to enquiries@derbyshirewt.co.uk, or leave a comment on our blog.

A. Fantastic Falcons
B. Peregrines are Perfect
C. Peregrines for The People!
D. Peregrines in Partnership
E. Peregrines, People and Places
F. Wrapped up with Raptors

Many thanks (in advance)
Nick's M and B

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Derby's Peregrines on DVD

Peregrine DVD front cover"The Peregrines of Derby Cathedral" is a great little DVD, now available for purchase for just £6.

It tells the story of Derby's peregrine falcons and features Chris Packham, well-known as both a BBC TV presenter and as a vice-president of The Wildlife Trusts.

All profits from its sale go directly to support our webcams and other project costs. All the Peregrine Project Team appear on the film, as does national prey expert, Ed Drewitt, from Bristol Museum.

The DVD lasts 35 minutes and includes a large number of webcam video highlights taken over the course of the breeding season. Each short video clip comes with  a commentary, so can be of great for schools to use in class.

Typical image featured in The Peregrines of Derby Cathedral
You can order the  DVD for  £6 GBP (post free within the UK)  from the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust office in Belper [see below].

Typical image featured in The Peregrines of Derby Cathedral To pay by debit /credit card and have one posted direct to your home at no extra cost (if you live in the UK) please phone the Trust on 01773 881188 (Mon-Fri 9am - 4.30pm).
Your copy will be dispatched the same day. UK cheques should be made payable to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and sent to the Trust at: East Mill, Bridge Foot, Belper, Derbyshire, DE56 1XH.

We can post abroad but we will ask you for an extra 'donation' of £1 GBP towards the higher postage costs. (The DVD is not region-coded, so it will play on all machines worldwide.)

Typical image featured in The Peregrines of Derby Cathedral
If you wish you can watch a short DVD promo, read testimonials below, or see more of the work of artist Steven McLoughlin which is included in the video.

The Peregrines of Derby Cathedral is an independent production by Delta Echo Media who have kindly given us all the rights to help us raise funds for the project.

The DVD makes a superb present for anyone interested in birds, let alone for anyone who has ever logged on to our web cams or visited Derby Cathedral to see these magnificent birds for themselves.

  • DVD came in the post this morning, have just watched. It is a pure delight, cannot recommend it highly enough. Congratulations to all concerned!! and Thank You! Audrey (UK).
  • DVD excellent. I won't spoil it for anyone who has not yet seen it by saying no more than you are in for a treat. Enjoy!! (Pam - Derby, UK)
  • Just finished watching the DVD, which I thought was excellent. Superb. (Ed Green, Chief Executive, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)
  • Oh my gosh...I just finished watching the DVD and logged on to congratulate you all for such an incredible production. Thirty five minutes of pure magical joy. I was smiling the whole time. Ave Maria will hold new meaning for me now. (Veronica, Cornwall, UK)
  • Have just watched the DVD, which is truly excellent - a definite "must-have". (Anonymous blog comment, Derby)
  • I really enjoyed watching the DVD last night. Thank you Derby Wildlife Trust for a really speedy and efficient postal service. It's a super DVD and I thoroughly recommend it. (Sue H. Bucks, UK)
  • Ee-chupp! Yeah, my DVD came today. It's wonderful. I was so mesmerized by the opening, it wasn't until it stopped playing that I realized I had to click "play film" :-) (Karen Anne, North America)
  • "Its superb . The photography is lovely, the graphics great and the webcam images fantastic -the whole story, great mating and the early chicks are really nice too. It's good to see a modern slant on it visually. Liked the talking heads and the whole story. Thank you for inviting me to contribute. (Chris Packham, BBC TV Presenter)

    Tuesday, 20 September 2011

    On The Ropes

    Superman makes his descent from the tower
    Sunday 25th: The Archbishop of Canterbury is preaching at the cathedral this morning. You have to be seated by 10.30 should you wish to go along.

    Nearly one hundred fundraisers abseiled down Derby Cathedral last weekend in support of the local Mountain Rescue Team and the cathedral itself, raising around £14,500 in pledges of sponsorship.

    The rescue team had set up an abseiling platform at the top of the 212ft tower of the cathedral, the second highest in the country and invited members of the general public to raise sponsorship to support both the team and the Derby Cathedral Charity, which supports projects connected with the cathedral.

    Despite some very windy conditions on the Saturday, most abseilers commented how much they had enjoyed the experience, even though many had been very nervous before putting themselves in the hands of the experienced rescue team.

    Among the adventurous participants was a partially sighted man, who bravely climbed the steep narrow stairway to the top before stepping off the edge of the tower, even though the night before, he had asked his wife exactly what abseiling was as he was unsure what he’d agreed to do. Another woman was celebrating her 40th birthday by taking part, having completed the challenge previously when the team had held the event four years earlier. The Sunday also saw the characters of Superman (see above) and Scooby-Doo make the descent in full costume, much to the delight of several children in the audience gathered below. One abseiler from Rolls Royce in Derby managed to raise close to £1700 in pledges by taking part.
    Diana Cunningham from Smith's Clocks about to set off

    This text and images have come courtesy of the Derby Mountain Rescue Team's website. Follow this link for more details of last weekend's fantastic fund-raising abseil. (Had we thought about it we could have got one or two of them to nip around the back and sort out our droopy camera for us! Nick M.)
    The crowd look on.

    Sunday, 18 September 2011

    Abseil down today

    Today (Sunday 18th) the Derby Mountain Rescue team have organised an abseil down the tower between 12.30 and 4 pm so if you ever wanted to try this out, today's your chance. Proceeds are split between DMR team and the cathedral.

    Peregrine prey remains found below the tower this morning included a snipe's beak and two feathers from a golden plover - the birds are now getting back to their winter diet! The falcon was sitting right by the pud cam on the waterspout. No sign of the male bird.
    Nick Brown (DWT)

    Sunday, 28 August 2011

    More photos from the summer - and a diversion

    Dave King recently sent me a CD with photos he had taken back in June. So here are a few just to remind you of our birds. It seems a long time ago now that the nest platform was busy with activity. And a long time until next season too.

    Meanwhile, if you want to keep track of some wildlife, you could follow the journeys made by several satellite tagged ospreys, some of which have already started to make their way down to West Africa (the experienced female Beatrice and the young male Joe for example).
    Roy Dennis, who set up The Highland Foundation for Wildlife, has been tagging ospreys for several years now and it has been fascinating to watch the journeys these big birds of prey make day by day as they fly down from the Highlands of Scotland where they breed to their wintering grounds in West Africa. Just google Roy Dennis and you'll arrive at his website.
    I see that Joe made an epic non-stop 470 kms in a day flight recently, ending up on the west coast of France - and this only two months since he made his first flight ever!
    I've been out watching local hobbies recently. These small falcons, relatives of the peregrine, have just fledged their young and before long, they too will be heading off south for Africa.
    Both ospreys and hobbies are day migrants and they can be seen at various raptor watch points such as those in the Pyrenees and in southern Spain but always singly, never in the large groups that some other raptors, such as honey buzzards and black kites, can be seen flying in. Only a few days ago, almost 3000 honey buzzards were seen passing over the Pyrenees in a single day from one famous watch point called Organbidexka.....a wonderful spectacle.

    Nick Brown (DWT)

    Saturday, 20 August 2011

    Bell Ringing Demonstration and Tower Tours

    Ring the bells and see the view!
    This Saturday, 27th August, is the Cathedral Bell Ringers Open Day.

    Derby Cathedral is hosting a Bellringers’ Tower Open Day and an exhibition of photographs of the bells between 10am and 4pm.

    Tower climbs will be offered every half hour and will take in the views from the top of the tower across Derbyshire.

    The Carillon is like a giant musical box that plays tunes on the Cathedral’s ten bells.

    At the 11.30am climb, visitors will be able to see and hear the Carillon in action.


    Visitors will see the ‘oldest ring of ten’ in the world, learn about bell ringing and have the opportunity to ring a bell themselves!

    Admission is £2 for adults and £1 for children (only children age 8 years and older are allowed up the tower).

    Nick B (DWT)

    Wednesday, 10 August 2011

    All goes (relatively) quiet

    As we get further into August, so things at the cathedral seem to have gone relatively quiet though I gather that up to three juveniles (plus both adults) have been seen recently on the tower and on Jurys Inn (thanks Ian B for that information).

    The adults are certainly due a rest after such a busy season. Rearing four chicks must take its toll.

    Adult peregrines have to moult their feathers annually. This usually begins during or just after the nesting season but there is a good deal of variability apparently.
    Moult begins with the primary
    (outer wing) feathers and can take between18 and 26 weeks to complete.
    I have found many moulted peregrine feathers under the tower over the years as my photo shows.
    Meanwhile, the close relative of the peregrine, the hobby, still has y
    oung in the nest. This
    falcon is smaller than the peregrine and is also a migrant. It spends the winter down in southern Africa, only returning to the UK in May. The whole breeding season is about two months later than that of the peregrine. Hobbies are very fast fliers, taking small birds on the wing but they also love to eat insects. In Africa they follow thunderstorms that trigger the swarming of termites. In the UK, when they arrive back in May, they can be seen at several wetlands hawking insects including early damsel and dragonflies.
    Last weekend I helped with the ringing of a brood of
    young hobbies
    only a few miles out of Derby. These birds select old crow nests to nest in and this pair had chosen one in a large oak tree in the middle of a field of wheat.
    The earliest of the young hobbies will only just be making their first flights, with some not doing so
    until later in August. By the end of September these youngsters set off south, heading down through France and Spain to North Africa and then on to West and even South Africa.

    Apparently at this stage they are unable to catch birds, relying solely on insects for their food.

    The photo shows a young hobby about to be ringed

    What a different lifestyle hobbies have from our peregrines.....

    Nick B (DWT)

    The painting of a hobby chasing a dragonfly is by Dan Powell

    Wednesday, 27 July 2011

    Peregrine prey - latest finds

    Yesterday afternoon (27th) I helped Tony G (Head Verger) clean up the nave roof, a job we do annually after the breeding season is over. The falcon was sitting on the edge of the platform when we emerged onto the roof, probably asleep since we were able to walk down from the roof's apex to the lowest part and out along the roof before she even noticed us.
    Of course when she did see us she made quite a noise, flying off directly onto the Jury's Inn lettering. As soon as she made her alarm call, the male, who had been on Jurys Inn, set off and circled towards the tower but veered off before coming even half way (he's such a wimp!). No immediate sign of any juveniles by the way.
    Prey remains were spread about, most having been washed or rolled down to the gullies at the edges. Fortunately

    it has been dry for several days so the remains were not as smelly as they can be.
    Among the species noted were teal, moorhen, little grebe, snipe, lapwing, golden plover, mistle thrush, quail (shown left), several starlings, fieldfare and great spotted woodpecker as well as pigeons of course.
    We also found (see above) the head of a kingfisher (and later its body), this being a first for this species in Derby (though it has been found as prey elsewhere several times).
    These peregrines certainly like to have a varied diet. So far we have found over 50 species of bird represented - that's a very wide food spectrum.
    Some of you may find this rather disturbing but peregrines (like most humans) are predators. They feed only on birds caught in flight (with the one notable exception of a rat brought in for the young a few years ago). It's what they do, they have no choice in the matter. We may wish that they would refrain from taking the more 'attractive' and rare species but their hunting is often opportunistic so they catch what they see in front of them, wherever they are.
    This spread of prey species means that they don't make any impact on the numbers of one particular species, preying on different birds without simply eating one kind monotonously.
    Having said that, our Derby birds do have a liking for wading birds. We now have 12 wader species on the list....remarkable for a site with so few suitable wetland habitats nearby. Many (eg woodcock, godwits, knot etc) were probably caught as they migrate over Derby at night.
    Quite why they bother catching such small birds as blackcaps and even goldcrests is a mystery. Perhaps they like the challenge or perhaps they just can't resist a small 'snack'.....who knows.
    We certainly know that our adults hunt by night, using the floodlighting in Derby to spot birds flying over the city. Of the above list, little grebes and the quail were almost certainly caught in this way, both being strictly night fliers/migrators....
    Nick B (DWT)

    Saturday, 16 July 2011

    Donations pour in

    Since we appealed for donations a few weeks ago we have been delighted with the response. So far, just over £2500 has come in, a figure which includes donations received at the 20 Watch Points. We also know that more money has been promised and that some further donations will be received.
    So a massive 'thank you' to everyone who has donated to us. You really have been most generous.
    Some of you have said that you prefer to remain anonymous and for most we don't know whether you would be happy for your name to appear in full or in abbreviated form, so printing a list of donors is tricky. For the moment we won't publish one unless there seems to be a call for it. No doubt you'll let us know.
    In previous years, th
    e sum of £2500 has been sufficient to keep the project in the black, covering the costs of keeping the web cams running and buying such equipment as was required. The time devoted to running the project was mostly donated voluntarily with a relatively small but significant amount of Nick M's time working at the museum covered by the city council (most of his time was and still is voluntary).
    Now that Nick no longer works for the council we will need a higher level of income to pay for (some of) his time. In addition it may be necessary to take on someone who will have time to take the project forward - for example, go into schools and invite schools to come
    and see the birds.
    So we are now in the process of applying for grants to cover these additional costs.
    The money donated already however is crucial. First it can be used to cover some of the immediate costs of preparing a bid, investigating live streaming etc and secondly, it can be used as 'match funding' or 'seed money' for any bid that is made.
    Grant givers like to see that projects they support don't just expect 100% to be given to them. They like to see projects making an effort to raise money themselves - so your donations will be vital in this respect.
    Over the autumn and winter we will keep you informed of any developments. For now though, even though the breeding season is over, our behind the scenes work continues in earnest.
    Should anyone who has not yet donated feel inclined to do so, then we would be delighted if we can get that figure up to £3000 or even £4000......
    The work on funding and development is being co-ordinated by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.

    Again, many thanks from the project team and from the project partners,

    Nick M, Nick B and Tony G

    Photo of a flying adult by Andy Byron, web cam screenshot from 2008

    Saturday, 9 July 2011

    Where do the youngsters go? Plus new juv photo & Updates

    Monday 11th Update: John Salloway took photos of one of the juveniles (probably 015 the male) with food in his talons. Probably it was passed to him by an adult - John didn't think that 015 had caught it himself but flying about with prey is the next step in the learning process! Good to see..... NB.
    Weds 13th: a report of all four juvs seen from Cliff & Christina - to whom thanks. NB
    We are aware that the web cams have frozen and are trying to fix the problem. Please bear with us while we do.

    So far, we have no information about where the surviving Derby youngsters travel to despite the fact that since the first brood back in 2006, all the young except two have been ringed and all except five have, in addition, been colour ringed.
    Initially the young stay around the cathedral or begin to use nearby tall structures such as the top of Jurys Inn, the swimming baths and also the (very tall) police aerial in Chester Green, about 500 metres away. Where they go beyond Derby we have
    no idea.
    One possible sighting a few years ago of a peregrine with a 'red ring' from Attenborough Nature Reserve near Nottingham, some 12 miles away, was unconfirmed.
    Undoubtedly some of these vulnerable young birds will have died from starvation, accident and even from accidental (or deliberate) shooting.
    In Poland, peregrine workers have satellite tagged several young birds and their movements since fledging have been tracked. They all moved a long way away from their natal sites though they backtracked and circled about as well.
    The website translates (in part) into English but the tracks of the birds on a map of Poland and neighbouring countries can be followed on a video clip here:

    Satellite tagging costs about £3000 per tag plus the tracking costs subsequently - so unless we can plug into some (very) substantial new funding, this option is not yet available to us in Derby.

    Also, our English young may behave very differently from these continental birds - but it is interesting to see what happens over there in any case.

    Nick B (DWT)

    (The photos taken in previous years show an adult on the top of the police aerial in Chester Green and the
    floodlit cathedral tower in December.)

    Please note that the web cams and the blog remain active throughout the year - so do visit us occasionally to see what the latest news is and even, with luck, to see a wintering adult!

    Tuesday, 5 July 2011

    What now? plus an Update

    Update Thursday 7th: all four juveniles on the tower this afternoon, three above the nest and one on the north side. No sign of either adult. NB

    With luck, the experience of watching our Derby peregrines this year has also opened your eyes to the wildlife around you - so where can you turn next and what can you do?

    We would encourage everyone, wherever you may be, to support and - where possible - also join your local wildlife organisation. In Derbyshire this is the
    Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) and you can find out more about what the trust does by visiting its website; http://www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/

    You can join DWT via the website or by phoning the Trust office on 01773 881188 - you don't have to live in the county to become a member.
    There are county wildlife trusts in every other part of the UK. To find you local Trust, be it Surrey WT or Scotland WT, visit the trusts national website

    Also, why not take a trip to some of your local nature reserves or attend a field or indoor meeting organised by a trust? Details are on their websites. The DWT website also features a weekly wildlife diary which is located under the 'news' section (written by a certain NB!)

    DWT's Chee Dale Nature Reserve near Buxton

    If you still have some money left over after donating to the peregrine project, then there are many hundreds of deserving conservation projects both in the UK and abroad. For example, the great work that Birdlife Malta does trying to halt the slaughter of migrating birds (including many birds of prey) which pass over that island. The conservationists there are incredibly brave, facing physical attacks from the hunters and regular vandalism of their newly established nature reserves. There are similar organisations in Italy and Cyprus....

    Obviously, DWT is the organisation we would hope to direct you to first and foremost since the trust has been a major partner and supporter of this project since its inception more than six years ago.

    Nick B (DWT)

    Ps. And don't forget our excellent project DVD 'The Peregrines of Derby' is still available at £9.95 (inclusive of p&p) from DWT by phoning 01773 881188 in office hours.

    Tuesday, 28 June 2011

    Last Two Watch Points, new photo & an Update

    Wednesday Watch Point Update: first a big thanks to Margaret and Brian Hobby who have run every Wednesday's WP since 25th May! They were assisted today by Margaret, one of the Cathedral Quarter rangers who has taken a special interest in the birds.
    All four juvs were in view plus both parents. Several of the juveniles flew about and they seem to be ever more confident - it was good to see that.
    People came from Stoke and Lichfield especially to the WP and it was good to see them. Mo & Pete came down from Belper (sorry to miss you) and a Dutch couple came to Derby from Whaley Bridge where they are staying to visit the Silk Museum only to find it closed!
    They ended up at the WP and we had a good chat as well as showing them the birds. They reported that the first pair of white tailed eagles to nest in Holland have one chick.

    Today (Friday 1st July) sees another Watch Point taking place, with the last
    one tomorrow, Saturday 2nd July. The young have been flying about today, following their parents and noisily begging for food - so there should be plenty to see.
    Saturday's Watch Point: please see the comments for an update. It was good to see many old friends & supporters - Jane and John from Belper and Joanne from Mickleover among them.

    The photo to the left was taken by Jon Salloway last week and it shows the falcon with a headless moorhen. Teal feathers
    have also been found under the tower recently, showing yet again the variety of the prey they take.
    The second photo, also by Jon, shows a juvenile trying to catch a bumble bee (or maybe a big fly)...its first faltering step towards catching prey. Peregrines will catch very small birds but, as far as I am aware, have never been seen taking an insect.

    The peregrine's smaller cousin, the hobby, regularly takes insects such as dragonflies and cockchafers in the air - more on hobbies in later post perhaps.....

    Donations for the project are still trickling in but we are still well off our target so if you've enjoyed watching the breeding season unfold here in Derby, do please consider sending a donation. Details of how to do so can be obtained by scrolling down a few posts....

    Nick B (DWT)

    Monday, 27 June 2011

    Wildlife in the city may divert you?

    As depression sets in for those of you finding the web cams suddenly empty, here's some other local wildlife you might want to check out if you live in or near to Derby! If you can't get to Derby, well I'm sure there's plenty of wildlife in your neck of the woods too - even if you live in a city - so get looking!

    Stock doves - rather surprisingly, a couple of these normally rural birds are often about on the cathedral tower. They can be told from
    feral pigeons by the lovely irridescent greeny blue patches on their necks and the lack of long double black wing bars - they have just a very short one instead!

    White letter hairstreak butterflies - there are small colonies of this delightful insect close to the cathedral. They live on and around elm trees - so first, find your elm tree! There's one just by the pedestrian bridge close to Jurys Inn, the one that crosses over to St Mary's RC Church.
    They warm themselves on leaves low down early on in the day and then fly rapidly about the top of the tree once the day has warmed up. Also try the elms close to Chapel St. Car park.

    Gingko trees - these very primitive Chinese trees have been planted on The Green just where we stand at the Watch Point...note their strangely shaped leaves.

    Derby's (only) dolphin - well, this is a cheat - The Dolphin Pub just around the corner is the oldest pub in the city dating back hundreds of years - nice dolphin with green eyes can be seen outside!

    And if you should want to see two green men (carved in stone of course) just look left and right as you enter the cathedral! The mediaeval stone masons often incorporated pagan symbols in the stone they carved all those years ago....don't tell the clergy though.....!

    Sand martins You'll need to go to The Sanctuary Nature Reserve close to Pride Park Football Stadium to see these brown cousins of the swallow nesting in holes in a specially made nesting bank. Well worth the visit though....
    Nick B (DWT)

    The photo of stock doves is copyright John Robinson

    Saturday, 25 June 2011

    Caption competition, DVD and an update

    Saturday Watch Point Update: all six peregrines were showing well today, despite the early rain. Two juveniles were on the cathedral and the other two on the roof of Jurys Inn.
    It was good to see many people at the Watch Point including one visitor who had come over especially from the Birmingham area to see the birds 'for real'. Thanks to our volunteers today - Celia, Helen, Nikki and Joyce.
    Three DVDs were sold - so perhaps it's a good moment for those who don't know about it to mention that 'The Peregrines of Derby' DVD was made a few years back but is just as topical today as it was then. Chris Packham puts in a cameo performance while much of the footage is video clips captured by Nick Moyes, showing the various stages of the breeding cycle.
    To purchase a copy (price £9.95 inclusive of postage) phone the DWT office in office hours on 01773 881188 to pay by card or send a cheque payable to DWT to DWT, East Mill, Belper DE56 1XH.

    Jon Salloway has been taking great photos of the peregrines for many years. The two here, taken yesterday morning, show the juvenile that was on the swimming bath roof.

    If you can think up a caption for the photo of the youngster with its leg in the air, do send it in - though there's no prize for the best one!

    Nick B (DWT)
    Please note that the photos are copyright of Jon Salloway

    Friday, 24 June 2011

    Watch Points to continue plus donations feedback

    News Update Friday 9pm: all four juveniles plus the falcon on the tower top, the tiercel on JI.
    All rather wet looking....
    Tomorrow's Watch Point should be OK - do come down, see the birds and say hello.

    News Update: Friday 24th June 4:00pm
    All four peregrines have now successfully left the nest. The last to leave flew out at 3:30pm today. We believe her maiden flight was OK, though are awaiting news of all six birds being seen at once - which isn't always easy!

    With superb help from our volunteers, it will now be possible to continue the watch point 'season' through until, and including, Saturday July 2nd.
    So do get down to Derby, see the youngsters learning to fly and do say 'hello' - if you possibly can.
    Just to remind you: we run them from 11am to 1.30pm on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
    So far we have received donations on The Green of over £300 - so a big thank you to everyone who has put something in the donations box or in the plastic peregrine with the hole in its head!
    We have had some lovely comments from visitors and it is just great to see how thrilled people are when they set eyes on our birds for the first time through the telescopes.
    Last Saturday, this family came to Derby from Blackwell, some 20 miles away, just to see the peregrines.

    All four children (Olivia, Lewis, Erin and Daisy) had a look through the telescopes and went away very well pleased with their visit - as did their parents.
    We know that many other people are still making special visits to Derby just to see these magnificent birds - and that is very heartening.
    Meanwhile, a big thanks to the cathedral for sharing 50/50 the proceeds from the tower tours run on the peregrine event day (30th May) - that brought us in another £112.
    So far from personal donations made as a result of our appeal on the blog we have received over £1,200. Add in the other income (eg from 5 DVDs sold at watch points and the donations there) and our new total for income since April now amounts to £1652 - so we are getting close to our target of £2000! This is sufficient to meet our hardware costs and webhosting fees, but unfortunately doesn't meet costs of people's time to maintain or develop the project. We are lucky that so many people are still willing to commit some or all of their time to Derby's peregrines for free. Do please keep it coming (we may well need more next year!).
    The project team extends a big thank you to everyone who has contributed so far - and there are over twenty of you (plus the class from Gorsefield Primary School in Bury, near Manchester, who sent £20 - a really marvellous effort!).

    Now let's hope our four youngsters all survive their early days in the air without any further mishaps. It should be fun watching them get their aerial confidence!
    Fingers well-crossed please......and keep your eyes on the comments to get the latest brief updates from the project team.
    Nick Moyes, Tony Grantham and Nick Brown

    Wednesday, 22 June 2011

    Lift Off!

    For updates please see the comments by clicking on the word 'comments' below.....

    A third peregrine falcon left its nest on Derby Cathedral at 15:30 this afternoon.
    Thanks to amazingly nifty keyboard work by webcam-watcher, John B, we can bring you this, the only image we can now supply of the moment of departure.
    Lift off

    At the time of writing this post, an hour has passed and we've heard no news as to whether or not she was successful in her maiden voyage. It's currently raining in Derby, and all three of the Project Team are away from the city centre today.

    We hope you will understand that, as volunteers, we can't always be there on the off-chance of anything going wrong, though we are on call should the worst happen and we would come in if we were needed. So we have to rely on our existing contacts with the local police, city rangers and vergers to keep us informed if we need to drop everything and literally come rushing to the rescue. We've also emailed staff based at The Silk Mill to ask if someone could pop-out and ascertain whether or not the lift off went as well as we might hope for. So far we've not heard back, though Matt the verger reports that there's no-one on the Green right now.

    The Cathedral is open until 18:30pm tonight, so if any blog reader is able to check for us on their way home from work this evening and drop in with the news to give to Matt the verger on duty today, that would be appreciated. He can then ring one of us if we need to come up into town.

    Nick Moyes and Nick Brown.

    After returning home, Nick Brown later took a call from Cliff to say that all six peregrines were visible this evening. So a big thanks to him for letting us know. Whether the most recently fledged female can get herself higher up the tower remains to be seen however.

    Monday, 20 June 2011

    Monday's flying excitements!

    Monday has been a lovely day here in Derby - blue skies and light winds (until late evening when it rained hard) - but an exciting one as well.
    This morning I had a date with Ian Sky, a BBC Radio Derby reporter who wanted to pre-record an interview with me about fledging - the excitements and the worries!
    Just before he arrived, 015, the flighty little male, flew from the top of the pinnacle (where
    he had spent the night) and
    landed somewhat unceremoniously back in the platform with his three sisters. Soon afterwards, he was off again, showing just how well he can fly now - no worries about him!
    I spent the afternoon botanising near Nottingham and on the way back through Derby decided to stop and see what was happening, if anything. No sooner than I had arrived, 015 flew off from near the platform, followed by one of his sisters. The latter flew far less well than her brother, losing height and tumbling onto an old brick wall at the back of a nearby car park (see photos both by Cliff Bentley).
    A small crowd quickly gathered....
    There was no way she could take to the air from there so I borrowed a step ladder from the vergers and managed to climb up and catch her. After a quick photocall and a check of her colour ring (012), I put her safely in the rescue box, though not before she had used her sharp talons to dig a hole in the arm of Kath Patrick, who I'd asked to hold the box for me!
    I called the local newspaper who dispatched a photographer and together we climbed the 198 steps to the top where, after many clicks of his camera, I released her on the stonework up above the platform. The falcon meanwhile was circling the cathedral, causing everyone on the streets below to look up and wonder what was going on.
    An hour later, she was still there so with luck she'll stay put until tomorrow....
    The falcon was quite upset when we were on the tower roof - as you would imagine. Later she had prey in her talons as she flew round - so quite an eventful afternoon!
    More photos of 012 to follow I hope. Also see tomorrow's paper if you live nearby.
    Nick B (DWT)

    Ps. Donations are still coming in today - so thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. Donations from Watch Points have totalled £279 so far....a useful amount to add to the many personal ones. However, we are still far off our £2000 target so if you can spare a dime as they say, please do so. Details on a previous blog post.

    Saturday, 18 June 2011

    First One Goes, Returns and Goes again

    Update Monday 20th early morning: brief recap so far: 015, the only male, has successfully flown and was high on a pinnacle late last night. He seems to be a capable flier.
    The three female young are still in the nest platform early Monday morning.
    Our problems may come when these birds decide to take flight - being heavier and less maneouvrable, it is the females which mostly come to grief (think of 'Cathy' and the bird ringed as 009 from 2009, both females that hit buildings). A fuller account of 015 can be found in
    comment 32. NB (DWT)
    The top photo of 015 was taken by Geoff Barrow, an Australian visitor to Derby, on Saturday morning when he was on top of a local shop (that's the bird not Geoff!). Thanks Geoff!

    And then there were three.
    This morning (Saturday) saw our first peregrine falcon leave the nest platform. It had spent the last six weeks on a small wooden ledge on the side of Derby Cathedral being fed, growing up and developing its flight feathers and wing muscles, ready for this moment. And when that moment eventually came, it did what came naturally, and it did it well.

    First to fledge - ring number 015 clearly visible.
    Photo courtesy of Ian Fletcher. (Click to enlarge)
    Chris Marshall was there and saw the bird fly off and land safely on a nearby building - though it flew off mid- morning and hasn't been seen since, despite searching.
    A call from Tony Grantham and Nick Brown informed me that our first fledged peregrine was initially safe on the top of Emily Brigden's - the clothes emporium at the top corner of Amen Alley and Irongate. The team remain on standby in case the other first flights are not so successful.

    I'm afraid it won't be possible to bring you any videos of the moment of fledging as the equipment inside Derby Cathedral remains out of action whilst the Project is in a period of partial hiatus.
    The photos show the bird sitting on the top of Emily Bridgen's shop (top centre of the photo) - and a close up of her.
    Saturday Watch Point Report: the fledged chick (actually 015 the solitary male bird) flew off and was lost to sight heading north. No doubt he'll be sitting somewhere on a roof but a walk round the area failed to spot him. The remaining three females did quite a lot of flapping at times while the falcon mostly sat above them next to the 'pud' cam. The male stayed on Jurys Inn.

    Nick Moyes/Nick Brown
    for Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project