Tuesday, 31 January 2012

By heck, its a long way down.....

We were fortunate to have the free services of two very experienced abseilers, Sam and Daz from 'Acclimbatize', an outdoor training company based near Matlock, Derbyshire, to help with the abseil and nest clean today.
Accompanied by Nick M, they went down and re-positioned the camera that has been hanging precariously by a thin wire for the last few weeks, cleaned both cameras, checked the nest platform and cleaned it up.
The cameras were left on so that everyone
could see what was going on, sometimes perhaps a little bit too close for comfort! Apologies if so.
Anyway, despite a cold east wind, the tasks were all successfully completed.
In the morning, we held the annual meeting with the project partners - The Cathedral, Derby Museums, Cathedral Quarter and the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. The bid to the lottery was explained and discussed and partners were brought up to speed both with what had happened last year and how we would hope to proceed this coming year if lottery money come through and and also if it doesn't.
Last week we were contacted by the lottery and advised that we would stand a far better chance of success if we would agree to having the bid discussed in April, ie in the new financial year when more money will be being distributed, rather than in March as originally promised. This was agreed to though it will make it more difficult for us to do much new work in this coming season, which will (we hope) be well underway by April.
The photos shows the three abseilers preparing their ropes and looking over the edge prior to descending. The falcon was on Jury's Inn with the tiercel when we arrived on the tower top but she did make a single circuit of the tower (loudly shouting her displeasure) before flying back to the JI sign. The tiercel, true to form, stayed put!
Tony Grantham was on hand most of the day both to attend the meeting and to introduce us to the new Head Verger. It was Tony's very last day at work!
Details of the service and farewell 'do' at the cathedral were posted a few days ago - so do scroll back if you missed them. Everyone is welcome.

Nick B/Nick M

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Could it be one of ours?

Notice  Monday 30th Jan: Weather permitting, the nest platform and cameras are due for a maintenance inspection and adjustment on Tuesday afternoon (1-2pm onwards). We are grateful to Sam and Daryl from Acclimbatize who have kindly offered to do this maintenance work on our behalf, and whose feet you may occasionally see in our webcams. We're looking forward to meeting them tomorrow (all of them, not just the feet). Derbyshire Police have been given advance notice of our planned maintenance, lest anyone mistakenly rings them to report suspicious activity in the vicinity of a peregrine's nest! Please be aware we have switched cameras on our webpages. One now shows the view from the faulty camera which fell from its mount during the winter. We need to be able to see the image over our smartphone in order to adjust it and ensure the new camera position is suitable.

Recently we received photos of a peregrine taken by Roger Browne in Croydon, Surrey, UK.
It has a reddish ring on its left leg - the same colour (and leg) that we ring our Derby juveniles with. Roger asked: 'Could it be one of your Derby birds?'
Unfortunately, the photos were taken at a distance and it is not possible to read a number on the ring. Indeed, the ring is a bit

distorted and may be different in form from the ones we use.
 Derby colour ring - the first one ever put on (in 2007) Photo NB(DWT)
So probably, we'll never know if this was one of our youngsters now grown into an adult and living elsewhere.
To our dismay, we have also learnt recently that orange-coloured rings have been used on peregrines in other counties, albeit with a different lettering system. This is quite disappointing as until now we had thought our colour rings were distinctive. It seems that ringers in London and Lincolnshire might have thought the same as us, too. 
It would be great to know that this was indeed one of our birds. Let's hope it is seen and photographed again.....

For details of Tony Grantham's leaving service and presentations, please see the previous post.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Tony's Leaving Service and 'do' (and nest clean up)

On Thursday 2nd February, there will be a service in the cathedral to celebrate both Candlemas and Tony Grantham's departure from the post of Head Verger.
The service starts at 7.00pm and will be a Communion Service with the choir singing a setting

by Widor. There will be 'incense and much pomp & ceremony' apparently!
The service should end about 8.15 and it will be followed (after a short pause while the choir and clergy change out of their cassocks etc) with presentations and some sort of a 'party', the details of which have not yet been announced.
Everyone is welcome either for the service or the presentations and 'party' or both.
We hope to see some of you there......

Nick B and Nick M

Ps. An abseil to clean up the nest and sort out the fallen camera is planned within the next week or two, depending on the weather (it needs to be calm and dry preferably). More on this nearer the time....

Monday, 9 January 2012

Another 'peregrine' trapped....or was it?

Adult male Sparrowhawk
This afternoon (9th January) I received a phone call from Tony Grantham. The owner of a florist shop just down the road from the cathedral reported finding a 'peregrine' trapped behind anti-pigeon netting, tucking into a dead pigeon.
Following my pre-Christmas rescue of a male sparrowhawk at the massive Westfield Shopping Centre, I had my suspicions that this bird might also prove to be the same and not a peregrine.
I set off for town with gloves and a capture box not knowing what I would find. It was getting dark so I took a powerful torch which, as it happened, proved very useful.
The shop owner, Shirley, took me to the back of the premises where a large cage of loose netting had been set up to stop the local pigeons from fouling everywhere.
A guy from another shop which also backs onto this netted area was already trying to coax the bird down and out through an unzipped 'door' in the netting, but to little avail.
I immediately realised that the bird was indeed a sparrowhawk, its bright yellow eye shining out at me when I shone the torch on the bird
Adult female sparrowhawk

Now with two of us working together we could keep it moving about until it landed lower on the netting and within reach. After a few false attempts, the bird was easy to catch and then release through the gap in the netting.
It flew off strongly into the sunset, none the worse for its ordeal but perhaps somewhat chastened!
Sparrowhawks are occasionally seen from the watch points in the summer and I've once seen one perch momentarily on the cathedral tower. This rescue and the one at Westfield made it clear to me that these little predators are frequent visitors to the centre of the city, with feral pigeons probably their main prey target.
Afterwards I headed over to the cathedral to find both adult peregrines warming their feet on the Jurys Inn signs....it was good to confirm that they were both OK.

Nick B (Wildlife Trust)
The top photo shows an adult male sparrowhawk. Note the yellow eye and lack of black moustache.
The lower photo shows a female sparrowhawk (photo courtesy and copyright of Pauline Greenhalgh). Females are bigger than males but lack the red colouration below and the blue above.
Sparrowhawks (and goshawks) belong to the group of round-winged 'hawks'.
By contrast, peregrines, along with the kestrel, hobby and merlin, are pointed winged 'falcons'. More on this in a later blog post.