|Nick M. from Derby Museums taking time off work to ensure |
the peregrine platform is in good order for the breeding season.
Providing the weather holds, we intend to abseil down Derby Cathedral's tower and do some routine nest maintenance next Monday. This will involve confirming that the platform is still in good condition and soundly fixed. The camera lenses need a good clean (and a few arachnids need evicting, too). The microphone that has been dangling down all last season in the top left of camera 2's picture needs re-fixing, and the worst of the gunk on the ledge may be removed.
As usual, a risk assessment has been done and the police informed. Assuming the weather stays mild and dry, we'll probably be on the nest platform by mid-morning. We normally turn off the webcams during this period so we don't cause alarm to unsuspecting webcam watchers who might think the nest is being raided or otherwise interfered with. Nicks B. M. and E. plan to be there to carry out the tasks, and we'll have the cameras back online just as soon as possible.
We have already seen both adult birds on the nest platform "eee-chupping" to one another - a definite prelude to mating and egg-laying. Once they start to nest, it is a criminal offence in the UK to disturb a pair of peregrine falcons. So this task has to be completed before the first week of March, or we'd be in trouble.
Some of you may remember the heartache we all experienced last season when two young chicks died
in the nest. Despite strenuous efforts by the Project Team to seek best practice advice and to gain official approval, we were refused permission to abseil down to remove the dead or dying chicks. Nature simply had to take its course. This reflects just how strongly the law wishes to protect these birds. It may seem that peregrines in cities are doing well, but even in Derby only around 50% of all eggs laid have ever manage to produce offspring that reached a year old. Elsewhere the situation is more dire - especially in parts of northern Derbyshire, where extreme persecution is still rife.
Derby Museum and Art Gallery