Thursday, 30 May 2013

Ringed and filmed (and video-ed too) plus Updates

The ringing of the four chicks last night (29th) went very well and we were lucky that the rain held off.
A five-strong BBC TV crew (including presenter Sanjida O'Connell) was present, filming for a regional (East Midlands) programme to be called The Urban Jungle which will go out in July (no date as yet). Parts of the film may be used nationally at a later date I gather. You can read her blog about her visit here.
TV crew film Sanjida on the top of the tower

Martin bags the chicks on the platform

Ant, Nick and a bundle of chicks ready for ringing inside the tower
BBC's Sanjida OConnell comes face to face with a chick.

The chicks behaved very well considering, sitting quite still while awaiting their turn to be ringed and

Do I really have to be ringed?

Well at least I got my dinner inside me first!
having their mouth's swabbed for DNA analysis.
The ringer, Ant, thought that there were three males and one female, the latter by far the noisiest! Martin the abseiler cleaned the camera lenses and lifted the new camera up a few inches so as to be above the 'squirt' line (thanks Martin for waiting up there while the chicks were ringed and filmed!)
Thanks also to Tony G for letting us in and out of the tower and for taking the photos. Nick M was on leave that day, sitting in a pub somewhere, but still keeping a watching eye on us all (and especially Martin) and tweeting away to let everyone know what was happening.
Nick B (DWT)
Ps. The colour ring numbers were 021, 022 and 024 the three males and 023 the female.
Pps. A short (and silent) video of the ringing can be found on You Tube

Report on Watch Point 1st June by Ian Layton: The sun shone on Derby today and once again we had over 250 people view the peregrines. We had people of all ages and backgrounds use the scopes - with folks from as far away as Turkey and Sweden signing the visitor's book.The birds themselves were in fairly good form. The youngsters made a few fleeting appearences - but mostly kept themselves to themselves. The parents were more visable - or at least he was (we think). This bird tookitself off soon after eleven o'clock and didn't reappear for nearly three hours - long enough for us to start wondering if something had happened to it! Meanwhile, the remaining bird sat on the crenellations just beneath the platform and stayed there from about 11.30 to 1.00 before then hopping up on to the platform itself. It certainly made itself very visable for all our visitors!
Soon after 1.00 this bird took off and flew towards the Council House and we wondered if we'd have anything to show people - but we needn't have worried as within 5 mins both falcons reappeared with the falcon settling on the platform and the tiedcel on the water spout by the right hand gargoyle at the top of the tower. They stayed there for about half an hour before the tiercel took off around the tower and within seconds had reappeared with a catch. At first we assumed this was a pigeon but closer viewing through the scopes showed it was more likely to be some kind of finch. The tiercel dropped this off for the falcon to feed to the kids and then flew off towards Jurys Inn.
We finished the Watch Point soon after this at around 2.15pm
A big thanks to Steve and Ann who did a sterling job of explaining about the peregrines and the project whilst Steve rushed around inviting everyone with quarter of mile to come and see the birds.

Please note: the window display in the cathedral cafe window is not working due to IT problems beyond our control...please bear with us while we wait for them to be resolved. (4/6/13). NM


Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Ringing the chicks (and a reminder re. Saturday's Watch Point)

UPDATE: all four chicks were ringed successfully tonight. Full details to follow by tomorrow morning.

We had planned to ring the chicks tonight (Wednesday 29th at about 7-7.30 pm) but the weather looks as though it could prevent us doing so. If you planned to travel to watch from The Green you could have a wasted trip. We won't make a final decision until 6.30 pm or even later if there looks like there could be a short interlude from the rain at some point in the evening! It would be best for everyone if we can get the job done today - but torrential rain will definitely stop us.....
If we postpone we will try again either tomorrow or Friday.
Ringing involves an abseiler (Martin) dropping down on a rope from the top of the tower, collecting the chicks and lowering them in a rucksack to the ringer (Ant) standing on the roof below. The ringer brings the chicks indoors where they can be ringed safely and quickly. They are then returned via the rucksack to the nest. The chicks at this age remain docile and make only feeble attempts to defend themselves. Any older than they are now and they become much more feisty! That is why we need to catch them at about 18-20 days old.
We have ringed our chicks every year since 2006 bar one. It is a straight forward procedure and one which the licensed ringer has done hundreds of times with many different species of bird (his main research work is on the hobby, another falcon that occurs in Derbyshire).
Ant fits two rings; firstly a small metal ring on the right leg. This is the standard type of ring that ringers use for all birds. It has a unique number on it and wording which says 'Inform British Museum London SW7'. The museum passes on details of any rings that people find (eg on dead, injured or re-trapped wild birds) to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the organisation which runs and controls the whole bird ringing scheme in the UK.They report the details back to the ringer and to the finder also.
On the left leg Ant will fit an orange coloured ring with a simple number in a large size (023 for example).
The photos below are from previous years of course.
Fixing a BTO metal ring (2008)

The chicks are returned safely to the nest (2006)

The large feet of an osprey showing both types of (much larger) ring

This coloured ring will enable observers to spot our ringed birds should they turn up elsewhere. The colour orange 'means' the bird was ringed in Derbyshire and the fact that it is on the left leg means it was ringed at the cathedral (all other Derbyshire chicks have the colour ring put on the right leg).
Obviously if someone can read the number through a telescope, then we get to find out exactly which of our chicks they are watching, whether here in Derby or miles away later on. So far we have had no confirmed sightings of any of our chicks at other nest sites elsewhere in the UK...but it could happen one day!
The falcon (the female) obviously isn't happy about an 'intruder' being at the nest (you will see him on the web cams). She flies round overhead making her displeasure known. We should not project our human emotions onto wild animals and birds so to say she is 'angry' or 'upset' isn't particularly helpful in understanding the state of this bird. Clearly peregrines have a built-in behaviour pattern to try to defend their nests and young. What is equally clear is that as soon as we are finished and are out of her sight, she will return to the chicks and show normal behaviour subsequently as if she had completely 'forgotten' the whole episode. (The male by the way tends to stay at a much greater distance, even just disappears!)
In some parts of the world, adult peregrines will dive at anyone near their nests, even clipping them with their talons. This doesn't happen with our birds. The female circles around above the tower top and doesn't get any closer. You can find video clips on You Tube of peregrines attacking (licensed) ringers in the States.
Reminder: the next Watch Point event is this Saturday 1st June (11 am to at least 1 pm) weather permitting (and the forecast is better by then!). If you've not been down yet, we look forward to seeing you soon.
Nick B (DWT)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Watch Points begin - plus Updates

UPDATE: Saturday's Watch Point (25th) was very well attended with some 300 visitors counted in the sunshine. A full account is at the foot of this blog post and another about Monday's Event. The next public Watch Point is this Saturday 1st June, 11am to 1pm and longer if fine.

Ian Layton, our Engagement Officer writes:
So far so good! We have four apparently robust youngsters (if you are new to this blog please scroll down to read the latest news of our chicks and see photos and a video of them).
Let’s hope the weather is kind to them and we see all four fledge.
Let’s also hope that the weather stays fine so as many people as possible can come along and see what’s happening up on the Cathedral tower. Once again the project will be organising “Watch Points” and encouraging people to use our telescopes to get a close up view and “share the magic” of the peregrines.

This year Watch Points will be run from 11.00am till about 2.00pm each Saturday from May 25th to at least June 29th. As the falcons were late in laying their eggs this year, we may run our Watch Point season a little later too.

Watch Points, as always, are free to attend. Donations are always welcome of course and if you do want to find out more about becoming a member of DWT, then we will have the necessary literature for you.

So it would be wonderful to see you all on Cathedral Green over the next few weeks if you can make it!
In addition to the Saturday Watch Points we are holding our annual Peregrine Event on Bank Holiday Monday 27th May (next Monday!). This will include a Watch Point, hourly Tower Tours taking people to the top of the tower (there will be a charge for this) and a small display and some children’s activities in the cathedral itself. Just turn up at any time between 10.30 and 3pm. Tony Grantham (our cathedral rep.) and I will be there and Nick B will pop in too.

Looking up at the nest with a scope

I have also been busy visiting a range of community groups and encouraging them to come and see the peregrines for themselves. So far we have six group visits to mid-week Watch Points confirmed and we have a further six groups arranging dates. These range from local Brownie groups, through groups of people with hearing or visual impairment – and on to folks from Care Homes. As much as I love seeing the birds via the web cams I’m really looking forward to seeing the expressions of people who have never had the opportunity to see the falcons ‘for real’ before.

We still have some free dates towards the end of June – so if you know of a group who haven’t seen the falcons but might enjoy their magic – please let me know and I’ll get in touch (email

And while you are in Derby (if you get there!) do be sure to catch Nick M’s great display showing the nest platform with eggs (and a monitor with the live web cam view) in the window of the Cathedral cafĂ© on Irongate, opposite the main entrance to the Cathedral. It’s well worth stopping for a look and indeed going inside for a bite to eat or a coffee/tea!

Hopefully we’ll see lot’s of you at the Watch Points over the coming weeks. Please don’t be shy – introduce yourselves as blog readers or web cam watchers – and let us know what you think of the project and how we might improve it.

The 'wow' factor!
See also the Watch Point tab above for more information about dates - coming shortly.

Watch Point Report for Saturday 25th by WP volunteer Andy Marshall: A fine sunny morning prompted an early start so we were on Cathedral Green at 10 am setting up . The female peregrine was on the platform shading the chicks but the male was nowhere to be seen (earlier he had been perched on the green “spike” above Jury’s Inn).

At 10.50 she flew off briefly, returning to one of the food caches above the nest and dislodging a pigeon which had unwisely settled there - before returning to her chicks.
A Cancer Concern  sponsored bed push plus pushers  stop to see the birds! Photo Sue H

Just after 11 am, the male put in an appearance, perching on the right-hand waterspout. This brought his mate out onto the edge of the nest platform calling to the male who eventually took the hint and flew off again. The female flew up to check whether he’d brought in any prey but flew back to the nest without anything. At 11.40 she flew off and circled over the River Gardens area for some time before returning at midday with prey. She proceeded to pluck it before dropping down to the nest and feeding the chicks.

Feeding over, the female cached part of the remainder of the carcase at the top of the louvres above the nest then flew with another piece before returning to settle down and brood her (no doubt) sleeping chicks. From then until then end of the Watch Point just after 2 pm the most we saw of any of the birds was the females head as she occasionally peeped over the platform edge.
Watch Point and Tower Tours - Monday's event: With another 200 people turning up (or being dragged screaming and kicking off the street) to see the peregrines, a good day was had. The sun
WP Monday 27th - a quieter moment
stayed out and many people went up to the tower top to see the great views of the city and beyond.

The birds showed themselves quite well with some flying about and at least two feeds. Among people who came were some from Spain, Greece, The Philipines and France too. If today was your first experience of the Derby Peregrine Project do watch our birds on line and come back to a future Watch Point. The next one is on Saturday 1st June, 11am until at least 1pm, weather permitting.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Feeding Time for the Fab Four (video added)

Just one week after hatching, and our four chicks are feeding eagerly. And growing fast, too. It won't be long before they start to lose their tiny charm, and start to look like over-fed gluttons. But with only six weeks from hatching to flying, peregrine falcon chicks need to feed and grow just as fast as they can.

This morning we were re-adjusting our camera's zoom setting and caught a lovely five-minute feeding sequence. Here are some of the pictures we took. Below that is a video taken from a different perspective.

This week Ian Layton, our Engagement Officer, is finalising plans for free Watch Points out on Cathedral Green. This is the pleasant, grassy area you see in the background to these pictures. They will run every Saturday from 25th May onwards, from at least 11am to 1pm (weather permitting) until the end of June. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust volunteers with telescopes will be there to talk to anyone wanting to see or learn more about the city's amazing peregrines.

There will also be WatchPoints run at other dates during the weekday, though we are encouraging local community groups and schools to book in for weekday Watch Points. But you'd be welcome to come down to use the telescopes then, too, though of course we'll be prioritising pre-booked groups.

There will soon be a new Page Tab at the top of our blog giving dates and news of all Watch Points. So do check it out. But of course Cathedral Green is open to the public, so do come down to watch the growing falcons for yourself at any time of day you like. Pop over to the front of the Cathedral and you can check out our live webcam monitor in the new display in the window of the Cathedral Cafe on Irongate (they do a good cuppa too!).
Be sure to have a look at the new display in the cathedral cafe window if you're in town

SCHOOLS: if there are any teachers reading this who might like either a visit to their school by the project or perhaps to come to Derby to see the birds 'for real' then do get in touch via .

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Fourth chick (and spaces left on a photography course this Sunday)

Followers on Twitter, Facebook and, of course, this Blog are reporting they saw a fourth chick around 11pm last night (Monday).
So far we've not captured a good screen shot, but no doubt we will soon. This image was captured by the Project Team this morning during a short change in incubation. The male later brought in some food, but flew off with it shortly afterwards because the incubating falcon showed little interest in it at that time.

Screen grab by Liz1155

Comments and Tweets.
We frequently moderate blog comments before they are published, so there may be a short delay before they appear. You can check out the most recently posted comments, as well as recent 'Tweets' sent from our Twitter account (@derbyperegrines) by looking at the right hand side bar of this Blog's homepage. To leave a comment, simply click on the word 'comments' at the bottom of the most recently published post.  Comments left by school teachers or school children are currently being inserted below the most recent post, as we think everyone will find it interesting to see how schools are using Derby's Peregrines as a fantastic learning resource.
You might ask why bother with Twitter and Facebook when we have such a successful blog? The answer is that people are increasingly getting their information on the move and in various forms. Whilst we can't be present on every social media platform, we do think that Facebook and Twitter are worthwhile and effective ways of reaching more people, too.

Luckily we managed to spot a comment left on an earlier posting from Alistair Henderson who said:
"While watching yesterday evening [13th May] I saw a small rodent being brought to and fed to the brood. Is it expected that rodents feature in the 'usual' diet of nestling peregrines or are times tough for the male while hunting? "

The answer is that mammals are only ever rarely caught. Aylesbury peregrines had a pipistrelle bat as a prey item, and in 2007 we captured  a video of our chicks being fed a rat. We don't think this means it's a tough time for peregrines - more a sign that they are opportunistic hunters, and may take whatever food they can.

UPDATE: Sunday 19th May, 10.30 am to 4 pm. DWT is running an 'In Flight' adult education photography course at Carsington Water in mid-Derbyshire, with a falconer present who will fly his birds. The cost is £50 and the tutor is Paul Shaw. Booking essential - phone the DWT office on 01773 881188 in office hours before 4.30 tomorrow (Friday). Note that it is not possible to book possible by ringing Carsington itself.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Number three cracks open - and an update

The third egg cracked open this morning (Sunday) about 9 am, spotted first by Helen, Luciana and Nikki. Egg shell was certainly apparent though we await a view of the chick itself. Screen grabs by Nikki and Helen are below showing the egg cracking and then the broken and empty egg shell.
(If you missed the egg-citement over Nos. 1 and 2, please scroll down to earlier posts!)

Here's a double video retrieved our from our recording equipment inside the Cathedral tower yesterday. The first half shows Saturday's two chicks being fed; the second half shows how the falcon nibbles away at the discarded shell, presumably returning lost calcium to her system. 
 UPDATE: Monday morning and still only three will the last one hatch? We'll have to wait and see. Incidentally, the eggs laid this year were the female's 28th, 29th, 30th and 31st in her lifetime. Of those 31, two failed to hatch in 2007 and so she's hatched 28 so far...with one yet to emerge this time around.

And, as if to celebrate the new birth, Derby's bells rang out last Sunday, captured here on video and sent to use via Twitter from 'Mroozed'

Unable to display content. Adobe Flash is required.

Recent Comments from schools:
We've logged on this morning and couldn't wait to see what has happened over the weekend.... 3 chicks!!! Come on number 4 we're waiting and wishing  (2M at Gorsefield Primary School, Radcliffe, Manchester)

We were very happy to sea more chicks haching. at dinner time we saw the first three chicks they were cudling up to each other whyle the feemale fed them. The feemale put little bits of meat in thire beeK.There little wings are very flapy. We think the other egg will hatch soon.The chicks were pushing in to the line to get there food. the peregrin has to sit on them because they onley have little fethers to keep them warm.  (Green Class, Brigg Infants, S Normanton, Derbyshire)

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Second chick on its way...and now arrived!

Saturday morning and we have two chicks!

Thanks to everyone for your comments and screen grabs this morning. The second chick was certainly out by 6.30 am this morning (thanks Christine) but exactly when it broke free only a check of the video recorder will reveal.

Chick - and chips
Last night, Nick M wrote:
It was 1am local time, and our second peregrine egg looked like it could hatch at any moment. This night-time picture was captured just as our female peregrine (the falcon) left her nest duties for a couple of minutes. Our first chick was clearly visible, as is a 'pipped' egg - meaning that a small hole can be seen where the chick inside has managed to start breaking open the egg. It can sometime remain in this state for quite a while, though it seemed likely that later today (Saturday 11th) we would see a second new face on Derby Cathedral's 480 year old stone tower.

And that's precisely what we found this morning - webcam watchers were sending in screen shots of two small, fluffy, white chicks. Both are now being very well cared for and fed as you would expect from our excellent and experienced parents.

The video below is actually two clips in one. The first half is from Saturday morning around at 6am, some three hours or so after the chick hatched. (we have not been able to determine exactly when it appeared). It shows a tender moment when both new chicks are being fed. The full sequence lasted for almost eight minutes. The second half is from just after the first chick arrived on Friday 10th May and the falcon is nibbling away at the discarded egg-shell.

Don't forget to check out our Flickr Group Pool. There you'll find a host of new screen shots that webcam watchers from around the world have posted. Shown below is one of my favourites from yesterday evening, showing a delicate feeding moment with the male (tiercel) watching from nearby. It was caught by Flickr user, Liz1155, but we are grateful to everyone for saving, sending or posting us your favourite moments so far.

We have loved seeing the schoolchildren's comments on our blog. Do keep them coming, as it's great to see young children sharing what they have seen with everyone else.

Single chick being fed on Friday evening.

Big thanks to everyone who sent in screen grabs and comments about seeing the second chick today - they include (with apologies for anyone we missed) - Deborah in Canada, Kate in Devon, Liz, Christine, Chris M, Sofia D, Joyce S, AnnieF, Gem S, Hilary M, Sue peregrino, Julie Layton, Caroline and Mary T.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Our first chick hatches

Half an eggshell, and chick heard calling at 9am
. But not yet seen!
Our first egg hatched out this morning. By 9 am eggshell was clearly visible on Stream 3 - see screen grab.

Reports on Facebook and comments on the blog (thanks to Christine, Nikki, Luciana and Chris M) the first of our four eggs has hatched (at just before 8am this morning - Friday 10th).

We asked for screen grabs, and here are just a few you sent in. We welcome images posted to our Flickr, or emailed to us at (Please save as jpegs -not .bmp files - and keep them 1Mb if you can.
BBC Radio Derby were first to get the news and carried a live interview about it on Ian Skye's programme at 09.05 today, with a further interview with the project team around 5pm this afternoon.
sight of the chick - screengrab by Fiona Mann

Red eggshell day? Grab by ChrisL

What Schools have said to us today:


Green Class saw a chick haching. it was exsiting. we felt amaysed and rillee happy. it was rigling around. we saw some of the emty shell. the chikc was a bit small and white. it had flufy littel fethers. (Brigg Infants, Derbyshire)

We saw the chick being fed at dinner time just as we were getting ready to go and eat our dinner! We think the chick looks cute and can't wait for the other eggs to hatch. How egg-citing it is! (From the children in 2R at Gorsefield Primary in Radcliffe, Manchester)

How one webcam watcher has been keeping up to date today!
Photo courtesy of Richard Mackney

Exciting times!
Nick B/Nick M (DWT)
Ps. Please scroll down to read about the faces on the cathedral tower, etc - ie if you are new to this blog!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

LIVE! LIVE! LIVE! - and now even more LIVE!

Grotesque - but wonderful!
Today we installed a window display in the Cathedral Centre Cafe. Financed by our Heritage Lottery Fund grant, it showcases the numerous faces and figures on the medieval tower of Derby Cathedral. Most figures were carved in stone nearly 500 years ago, but a few faces are newcomers that flew in much more recently.
New display and window graphics installed by the Peregrine Project 

It's quite possible that our peregrines are better known than the equally amazing stone carvings, so we wanted to redress that balance. There are 26 faces and figures dotted around the four faces of Derby Cathedral, including seven 'Green Men' on the west face, and a number of carved beasts - called 'grotesques' at the very top of the tower. (They're not gargoyles, because only gargoyles have water spouts running through their mouths to drain water like a gutter, and ours do not have this.)

If you're visiting or shopping in Derby, do come down and try and see how many carvings you can spot for yourself. The side of our window display shows the locations of all the stone figures, should you get want help. A changing photo-display shows many of these carvings, and we are grateful to a number of local photographers who contributed photos, following a recent appeal on our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

We also installed a monitor showing the live webcam from the peregrine nest platform, so passers-by on Irongate can now watch them any time, day or night. Our display is mounted within a full-size mock-up of the peregrine nest platform installed on the side of the Cathedral tower. So, if you want to get an idea of scale, do pop down, if you can, and take a look.
Peregrine webcam and photo display.

Four life-size dummy peregrine eggs are included in the display.
Our display will remain in place until late June when, with luck, our birds will have fledged. Though for now, of course, we still await hatching-day with ever-growing excitement (due this weekend).

Our thanks to Katapult for designing the graphics and window vinyls, and to MK Display Solutions, both of Derby, for delivering the printed graphics panels ahead of time.
Photography: Patrick Aherne, Joyce Sawford, Mick Futers all responded to our appeal for pictures of the carvings for the digital display frame.
And thanks to my family for coping with a full size peregrine platform on our living room floor for the last three or four weeks!
Nick M.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

LIVE! LIVE! LIVE! Plus an Update.....

With just one week to go before the hatching is due, the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project is pleased to announce its latest development. Our new camera (Stream 1) is now also available with fully live sound and vision! We are calling this Stream 4.
Now you can watch and listen live - See link to Stream 4

So now Derby's amazing peregrines can be watched and listened to 24 hours a day  - just in time to capture the excitement of next weekend's hatching day.  We know this is going to be popular, so we have arranged a contract allowing for up to 100 users to view at once during the nesting season. Our other three webcam streams will still be available all year round, of course. See our Webcam Tab, or the Quick Links on the right.

As well as hearing all the noises coming from our falcons as they change shift whilst incubating, or later on when they bring in food to the new chicks, you'll also have the opportunity to be utterly deafened every quarter hour when Derby Cathedral's bells ring out. And at 9am, noon and 6pm you'll also hear the carillon - a giant musical box - play tunes on the ten tower bells.
Appealing - now you'll hear Derby's loud bells on our new webcam feed.

To help us keep within our bandwidth allowance, after 8 minutes you will be redirected away from Stream 4, back to a peregrine page on Derby City Council's website. So, to watch again, simply hit the 'Back' button on your browser to view or listen for a further 8 minutes, and so on. You may also need to refresh the page (by pressing F5)  if the video doesn't start, or a warning notice appears. Some viewers on corporate systems report only seeing a black rectangle, and no video. We suggest trying a different browser if this happens to you, or speak to your network managers.

Many Apple users (with iOS) are finding PuffinBrowser ideal for watching our other streams which need Flash Player. So those of you with iPods and iPads should now have no excuse for not watching Derby's most iconic of birds on its nest. Do leave a comment if you have difficulty viewing any of our streams.

Very soon there will also be a chance for visitors to Derby to watch the cathedral peregrine webcams from street level, too. But we'll tell you more about that next week. Meanwhile here's some video footage of a recent changeover during incubation. Note the size difference between the larger female and the smaller male.

And here's a screen grab taken by Charlie W a couple of days ago showing all four eggs as seen from the new (Axis) camera.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to receive updates to this blog by email, just fill in your details in the box marked 'Subscribe via Email'. It's at the bottom of the right hand links column on our homepage.

Note by Nick B: all this new work (and this blog post) has been undertaken by Nick Moyes, working his socks off behind the scenes.

UPDATE: Hello to all our new friends - both adults and children - who came to our frantically busy stall at the annual Family Activities Open Day at Derby University today (attendance 2,500 people apparently and it sure felt like it!). Thanks also to Ruth and Neil Long who helped out magnificently, helping children to crayon peregrine masks and answer simple questions about peregrines.