Thursday, 27 June 2013

An (often) empty nest but still things to see (and do!) and updates

UPDATE Friday evening: Christine reports that all four young were on the tower this afternoon and had been flying well today - which is good news. Tomorrow's Watch Point will go ahead, weather permitting, and run from 11am to 2pm  - so do come along. We should be able to find at least some of the young and with luck see them flying about begging the parent birds for food! Exciting viewing.....
And a big HELLO to all the teachers we met at the County Eco-Conference today. If you have any further questions you want to ask us - just email and we'll reply to each one. (NB)
UPDATE SATURDAY: the Watch Point went well and the sun shone. All four juveniles were active and food was brought in to them. New people came specifically to see the birds while others became 'ensnared' as they walked past! Hello to one family from Ann Arbor, Michigan in the States with whom we had a long chat - they seemed quite impressed with our birds and promised to send in a comment when they get home. Big thanks to all our volunteers today too. (Nick B/Ian L)
UPDATE MONDAY 1st: all four juvs on the east side of the tower this morning after some frantic chasing of adults. UPDATE WEDNESDAY: all four still present and correct, viewed at lunchtime by DWT staff who had a look during a staff day.
This Saturday (6th) is the FINAL WATCH POINT of the year so if you've not been down, it's your last chance!
And a big thank you to everyone who has been donating recently towards the project including several people who left us no contact details preventing us thanking them individually. (NB)

The last chick fledged this morning (Thursday 27th) at 6.45 am. Thanks to several people who notified us on the blog and via  Facebook. She was soon located on a roof near the cathedral and later moved to another roof above a solicitor's offices (we were able to show several solicitors the bird through the scope).
024 on solicitor firm's roof - poor digiscoped shot by NB

I did a radio (Derby) interview as I stood there - and was able to promote this Saturday's watch Point too!
Earlier Ian and I had a group come along from a  local school, one that I and Maria Desborough had visited a couple of months ago with a presentation etc. They were only infants but with the sun shining, they all seemed to enjoy the experience.
Later a passing school from Duckmanton (in N. E. Derbyshire) stopped to have lunch on the grass nearby.
Children file past the Watch Point - most had a quick look during their lunch break

Most of them (and there were 75!) came over in ones and twos to look through the scopes.
The birds themselves played hard to get today much of the day. When the first school arrived there wasn't a single one on the tower but, before they left, two had appeared on the flats over the river and both eventually returned to the tower, with the adult female sitting right at the top of a pinnacle, keeping watch.
While the nest box will now be empty more often than not, there should be some good viewing from the 'pud' cam above the nest so please stay with us!
Donations: thanks to those of you who have donated already. We could really still do with  more income so if you have been enjoying watching the birds and appreciate the work we've been doing to bring these remarkable birds right in to your home, office or school, please consider making a donation. The details of how to do it are on the previous post - so please scroll down to see them.
In effect, it is very simple: just ring the DWT office on 01773 881188 in working hours and use your your debit or credit card (completely safely)! OR put a cheque made out to DWT in the post to DWT, East Mill, Belper, DE56 1XH and please make it clear that the money is for the peregrine project.
If you are willing to Gift Aid your donation please ask for a GA form. Thanks.
Nick B (DWT)
Ps. Other birds seen today included a heron flying over the tower, a pair of grey wagtails nearby, a mistle thrush and blackbirds on The Green and goldfinches in the trees by the cathedral. Inner city wildlife can be very varied!

Friday, 21 June 2013

And then there were two . . .and a request to you all

Update:   A new video, a news update an appeal for your support have been added to this post. PLease scroll down.

Our second juvenile peregrine fledged from its nest ledge on Derby Cathedral this afternoon.

Tony and Dawn Grantham raced into town about 4.15pm when they heard one juvenile was on the ground outside a nearby hairdresser's shop. Fortunately, the bird flew up into a tree and then very strongly upwards and away round the back of the Silk Mill.
Nick Brown went down later on and found one young bird up on a pinnacle above the nest,  and two in the nest itself. Both parents were present too. So he's sure these two fledgers will be fine. Christine and Cliff are spending the next few hours down there so they will keep an eye open and report back. And there's a Watch Point tomorrow from 11am so there will be plenty of eyes and ears watching come down if you've not been (and are within reach). The show won't last much longer.....certainly not form the web cams (and apologies for the mess on the wide angled camera - we will definitely have to put it higher up for next year - those chicks certainly know how to pooh upwards don't they!).

There was no film available of Friday's fledging, but the video below shows the moment our first juvenile took flight on Wednesday.

Just two for tea......

Time for a plea.....

This is the time of year when we make a request for donations. We've done it every year and been astonished at the generosity of those of you who've been enjoying our web cams and blog during the nesting season.
Many of you will know that we have a lottery grant and may wonder why we need to ask for donations. Well, the grant actually requires us to raise some 'match funding' rather than expect them to provide us with everything. So we do have to raise well over £1000 each year until 2015. Some unsolicited donations have come in recently (so thanks to those of you who have been so generous already) but we still need more. So if you have anything to spare please send us something however small!
Details of how to do it are below:

The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (the lead project partner) is a registered charity and a 'not for profit' organisation. It is the only recipient of project funds. Rest assured that any money given to the Wildlife Trust will be used only to support this project provided you clearly state that it is for the Peregrine Project. All donations, however small or large, are acknowledged either by email or letter. Note that UK donors can increase the value of their donation by Gift Aid by 20%. (If you have donated and gift aided before we should still have your form so there's no need to ask for another).

We will publish a list of donors (but not the amount they donated) here on the blog later on. You can choose whether to be anonymous, to have your full name used, or some semi-anonymous abbreviation (eg Mrs S from Matlock or Stan H from Toton). Let us know your preference.

You can donate in one of the following ways:

UK donors:
  • Post a cheque made payable to DWT to the Trust at East Mill, Belper, DE56 1XH including a covering note stating that your donation is only for the peregrine project (include your address so we can acknowledge receipt).
  • Ring the Trust during office hours (01773 881188) to make a payment over the phone by debit/credit card (office hours are 9am to 5pm, weekdays, to 4.30pm on Fridays).
  • You can also use the donation mechanism on the Trust's website at  Go  to 'support us/make a donation'. We use Virgin Moneygiving and find it works very well.

To UK Taxpayers only -  you can greatly increase your donation by filling out a Gift Aid form whereby the tax people give the Trust a further 20% of the value of your donation. The form can be sent by email or through the post…please just ask us for one.

Overseas donors:
  • 1) Please email asking for the codes you need so your bank can transfer money to the DWT account. (Unfortunately Gift Aid does not apply unless you are a tax payer in the UK.) Note that banks may charge for this service.
  • 2) Donors from most overseas countries can also ring the Trust (weekdays on 0044 1773 881188) to pay by credit long as you can work out when the office is open of course (check the webcam's local timestamp!)
  • Use our online donation mechanism via our website - see above.
Payments should only be made to 'Derbyshire Wildlife Trust', the lead partner for the project. No other organisation or website is authorised to collect funds on our behalf.

Please clearly mark on your payment that it is for the 'Peregrine Project' for use in the current financial year or, better still 'in this and next financial year' (this allows us to carry your money over from year to year should we need to).

Thank you in advance,
The project team

Update Saturday 22nd June:
A class from Lakeside Community Primary School in Derby had a sleepover in the cathedral last night and were promised a trip up the tower early this morning. However, with the chicks fledging, the tower is temporarily closed to avoid any disturbance at this critical time. So in lieu of the tower climb we offered to run an early morning watch point for them. Antony Pooles kindly offered to help and we were set up by 6am.....just in time for Antony to see a juv fledge from the platform and disappear somewhere below.
After an introductory talk and the showing of video clips inside, we brought the two groups of 15 children out onto the Green to see the birds through the four scopes we had set up. They seemed to think it was just as good (if not better) than climbing up all those steps! What's more, the teachers want to do it again next year with a different group.....what have we started!
Lakeside kids catch the early bird(s)
Although we were absolutely sure there was only one chick left in the platform while the children were there, when I left at 8.30 there were two present plus a third up close to pud cam feeding (plus both parents). With luck the watch pointers today may just locate that fourth missing chick! Ps. We did check the nave roof from a window in the tower but no sign there.....
Later Update Saturday: all four youngsters were seen on the tower this morning. A group of Ukrainians was given a talk by Ian Layton and also came and looked through the scopes. With a couple of very heavy showers there were fewer people about than usual on The Green but it was good to see some old friends of the project - that's 'old friends' not 'friends that are old' you understand!
The NEXT (extra) Watch Point is on Monday Afternoon (2-4 pm) as part of Inspire Derby week.
Monday lunchtime - still 2 in the nest and (presumably) two on the tower. We'll be down there soon to check and run a Watch Point. The sun has even appeared!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

First Fledge! And Updates....and Springwatch shows Derby clips!

The first of Derby Cathedral's peregrine falcons (now confirmed as colour ring number 021) fledged this morning sometime before 08:00 local time. We were alerted by blog comment from Linda, Hilary and Ian and, brilliantly, by the children from Green Class at Brigg Infants School in Derbyshire. Thanks to everyone!

Because we can never be sure by watching the webcameras if their first flight has been a success, we try and get down to Cathedral Green to check things out for ourselves. Though we rely heavily on others to keep us informed of problems.
And then there were three (Screen capture 9am 19th June)

If you as a webcam watcher see either the fourth bird returning to the nest ledge (which is rare in the first day), or if you see others leave the nest, or if you encounter signs of a young peregrine out of its nest on or above the streets of Derby  - do please keep us informed by one or more of the following :

  • Ringing Derbyshire Wildlife Trust during office hours (01773 881188) - emergencies only please!
  • Leave a comment on this blog
  • Emailing the project:
  • Contacting us via Twitter or Facebook
The microphone on Stream 4 is a good way for us to monitor peregrine activity, and to listen for the alarm call of the adults. Should anyone in Derby encounter a young peregrine, please do not attempt to pick it up. If it's safe, leave it where it is and contact us. Their talons are immensely sharp.

021 on St Michael's - photo Ian Bradley
This is a dangerous time for peregrines - fledging and the days shortly afterwards are the most challenging, and not all survive. But for us they're also the most exciting.
021 constrained by a pigeon wire on St Michael's - photo  Ian Bradley

Update 2pm Wednesday 19th: the fledged bird was soon located on the top of St Michael's church close to the cathedral. He stayed there all morning, watched by the female. The remaining three youngsters peered down or flapped around on the platform while below we held an impromptu watch point, mainly set up for a small group of people from a local care home.
The female then sat herself just below the nest in the shade, a favourite place for her. A very high-flying peregrine, presumably the male was spotted by Christine who also picked out two very high flying cormorants passing over the city. Lower down, four swifts were good to see - this bird is declining fast! One remaining chick had the colour ring 022 on its leg so that one hasn't gone yet for sure...
The next open Watch Point is this Saturday, 11 to 2pm so hope to see some of you down there, weather permitting. How many chicks will have fledged by then I wonder? Update Weds evening: thanks to Ian and Christine for reporting that 021 flew to Jurys Inn sign and then over to the cathedral - so this one seems a very competent flier already! Great news.....
Nick B (DWT)

Video clips from our project were featured on the BBC's Springwatch programme last Thursday and you can see them (if you live in the UK) at .

The sequence begins about 37 minutes into the programme, after a piece on rabbits.
The collage of video clips from Derby, Sheffield, Norwich and Nottingham gives a good idea of the various nest platforms and boxes and the awful snowy conditions that the birds had to deal with earlier in the season.
The Derby clips include a close up of the female inspecting the new camera, the snow in the platform, eggs and chicks on the platform and night-time feeding. Well worth a watch.....

UPDATE Thursday evening (20th): all four chicks now in the nest platform (thanks Christine, Sally Whale and Linda)) and it's raining cats and dogs - so it's unlikely there'll be any fledging tonight.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

An exciting day for some visitors to our project

This Tuesday we had another group of children visit the cathedral for both an illustrated talk by Ian (with a member of the staff signing for the children) and to look through the telescopes. They were from Woodlands School's Hearing Impaired Unit. The chicks didn't show very well but the adults did - and the rain held off with even a brief glimpse of the sun! (Thanks again to our trusty band of volunteers who helped us out).
Woodlands School group at the Watch Point
St. Benedict's School visit. Last Wednesday, Ian Layton, our HLF-funded Engagement Officer, had arranged for a small group of children with either sight or mobility issues from St. Benedict's School in the city to come to the Cathedral to experience not only our peregrines but also some imported birds which they could hold and touch, given that most would be unable to see the peregrines.
The visit, funded by our lottery grant, was a great success and the children thoroughly enjoyed the experience. A falconry centre in Nottinghamshire brought a range of their birds of prey for the children to hold and to touch - a brilliant experience for those with little or no sight, in particular.
Both the birds and the children behaved exceptionally well - and thanks also to our great volunteers who helped out (Nikki, Steve, Howie and Pam) and to John Armitage from the cathedral.
Ian Layton wrote:
"The group arrived about two minutes after the falcons had flown off to Jury’s Inn – leaving us with precious little to see or hear. But just after our introductions, the female flew back to the Cathedral tower calling loudly and making plenty of noise! Perfect timing!!

We had set up a couple of scopes through which those youngsters with some sight could see the birds and the female helpfully sat on the lip of the platform for ten minutes whilst everyone had a good look. Whilst this was happening we explained a little about the birds - their life cycle, adaptations, diet etc .

Following this we went across into the Cathedral where the group were introduced to a number of imprinted (raised in captivity) birds of prey. All the young people were carefully encouraged to hold a bird on a gauntlet and – guided by the falconers – were enabled to feel the talons and feathers of an Eagle Owl, a Barn Owl and a Ferruginous Hawk as they held them on their arm. Whilst the group were having the closest experience of wildlife many of them had ever had. The youngsters were also able to touch ‘009’ – the young Derby peregrine killed in 2009 by flying into a building which has since been stuffed.

The session concluded with a bird song recognition quiz – ranging from Cuckoos, through Skylarks to – of course – peregrines.To round off, we made the point that today was really more than just about falcons, hawks and owls – it was to help people learn to care about wildlife and to realise about the pressures many species are experiencing.

As they left, they were talking about placing a barn owl box in their school grounds and about developing more wildlife education in school.

This afternoon I’ve received two emails from school – the first stating that one of the young men had returned saying it was “the best thing he’d ever done” – and the second from the head of the department asking whether the hawks and owls would be available for a wildlife event to be held in August. All in all, a very positive day!"

Watching a peregrine on the Jurys Inn sign with volunteer Howie Hall on hand

Josh just manages to see the peregrine's nest

Shannon touches a (very tame) eagle owl

Josh with a barn owl on his wrist

James about to hold the eagle owl