Monday, 29 July 2013

Tantalisingly close....Plus Update on how to watch Urban Jungles on TV

BBC 1 East Midlands TV showed a programme called 'Urban Jungle' at 7 pm last night (1st August) which included sequences taken on the day the Derby Cathedral chicks were ringed (the abseil as well as the ringing itself). Other sequences were taken at Willington Power Station (where peregrines used to nest) and in Nottingham. 
UPDATE: The programme is now viewable on I-player and if you don't live in this region, the BBC has produced other regional Urban Jungle programmes to go out simultaneously. Just do a google search for "BBC 1 Urban Jungle" and you get to choose from all the various regional programmes.
The SW one features Nick Dixon (who's been a great help to us in Derby since 2005) plus footage of peregrines attacking a buzzard and the Lincoln one shows peregrines in Sheffield with Mike Dilger presenting. A feast of peregrines and other urban wildlife it too! But beware the programmes will disappear in six days time....


Tantalisingly close.......

Avid readers of this blog will already know that a few weeks ago, Nick Frazer, a bird watcher living in North Yorkshire, found a pair of peregrines nesting on a natural cliff. Although the site is quite well known locally we will not be mentioning exactly where it is simply because the site is remote and therefore not secure from interference.
If anyone reading this knows that part of the world and guesses where it may be, please do not mention any locations in your comments to this blog.
Mystery female on the cliff face - could it be 002?

Looking at the adult female bird, Nick could see an orange ring on its left leg and a friend went a stage further thinking that he could read the number 002. The ring was reported to the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), the body in charge of bird ringing in the UK. They keep all the records and were able to work out that this could well be a Derby Cathedral a chick that had been ringed here in the past and had successfully reached maturity, paired up with a male and started to breed.
If the number was proved to be 002 then the bird was reared as a chick here in 2007, one of only two female chicks reared that year (two eggs failed to hatch).

The first photo shows the bird on the cliff face and you can just see the colour ring.
A week or two later, I was in Yorkshire for a few days and diverted to the site to try to see the bird myself. Eventually, after a lot of searching, I located the female sitting on the clifftop. She was undisturbed by me and I could see her well through my telescope, sitting on what appeared to be a favourite look out position.
Show us your left leg please!
Unfortunately her left leg was obscured when I took photos through my scope. She looks a fine bird though, and was clearly a big female. Having taken several shots, I saw the bird shuffle and change position. Peering through the scope I could now clearly see an orange ring on her left leg but before I could get the camera in place, she lifted off and flew across to perch in a wood about a half a mile away.
My view of the ring wasn't good enough  to read any number, even with a zoom lens and there was no way I was going to get any nearer to her perch without disturbing her should she return.
Nick Frazer was on holiday then but when he returned he and a friend with a large telephoto lens returned to the site and saw the male with two juveniles, newly fledged. But the female remained elusive and wasn't seen to perch nearby.

                                                           Adult male with one juvenile

Further attempts are being made to get that vital photograph but for now we just have to wait and hope.
As the pair's youngsters begin to move away from the site so it may take a lot longer to get that much wanted close up photo but we are very grateful to our Yorkshire colleagues for their continuing attempts to see that all important number that would clinch it!
Nick B (DWT)

Ps. There is clearly still some action to be seen on the (remaining) web cams - with reports of juveniles and adults too (thanks to those who have sent in comments). My visits during the day have been fruitless so perhaps the birds mainly return to the tower in the evening and to roost.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Thanks all round - and news of a TV programme

Now is the time to thank everyone who has helped to make this another successful year for the peregrines themselves and indeed for the peregrine project which works away behind the scenes all year round.
First, a big THANK YOU to everyone who has donated to the project (and donations are still coming in). The total so far is £2145, £1500 of which will be used to 'match fund' the lottery grant - giving them the evidence that we are not relying on them 100% for income but continuing to raise money ourselves. (Incidentally, this figure compares very favourably with that raised by other peregrine projects).
The three egg stage seems along time ago now.....

Second, a big THANK YOU to everyone who has come to a Watch Point, followed the web cams and the blog and sent in comments.
We are fast approaching 300,000 'hits' since January (and 900 comments), which, considering how many other web cams there are now in the UK and how many years the project has been running, are great achievements.
Grotesque or what? 

Thirdly, a really BIG THANK YOU to all our splendid Watch Point volunteers. They have worked very hard this summer under the organising hand of Ian Layton.
That over 2000 people were counted looking through the telescopes is a tribute to their hard work and determination not to let anyone passing by do so without having a look.
And fourthly, a big THANK YOU to everyone who has helped us behind the scenes.This includes many Cathedral staff and volunteers (especially John A and Jackie but also Kim and Irene and the vergers), staff in the city council IT team and SERCO and staff at Cathedral Quarter.
We have also had tremendous support from some teachers who have been helping us develop education resources for schools, people with contacts to groups and organisations supporting folk with physical and mental disabilities and people in minority communities.
Juvvie by Whycliffe
As several people have been saying, the birds are still appearing on camera quite regulalry  - and giving people pleasure every time they do.
DO stay with us, logging on from time to time to see what we have to say and with luck to see one of our birds.
The chicks just out of  the bag and ready to be ringed 
NOTE: those living in the East Midlands BBC broadcasting area will soon be able to see the 30 minute programme called URBAN JUNGLE which will feature scenes from the day we ringed the chicks.
The programme is now confirmed to be broadcast at 7.00 pm on Thursday 1st August on BBC 1 East Midlands. Folk living beyond the region may be able to watch it on i-player though this is not certain at the time of writing.

The Project Team (Nick M, Ian L, Tony G and Nick B)

Ps. We hope to have news about the peregrine that bears an orange ring and is nesting in Yorkshire. Thanks to local birder Nick Frazer for organising some local long-lensers to go and have a crack at getting a shot of the ring close up! Fingers crossed....

pps. Link to a recent peregrine rescue in Sheffield is:

PPps. Please note that we have stopped one of the feeds from the new wide angled camera since the lens is very mucky now - so we might as well save some money!

Saturday, 6 July 2013

End of another good season

The final Watch Point (6th July) was held in hot, sunny weather with plenty of volunteers helping and a steady flow of visitors. Among the many visitors was a young Chinese couple who were in Derby to find somewhere to live (he will be working for Rolls Royce and seemed very interested in getting involved), a South African who was enjoying the 'cool weather' here and we also had a visit from a relatively  new Derbyshire Wildlife Trust trustee - good to meet you Sarah L!
The excellent photo below shows a food pass taken recently by a good friend of the project, 'Whycliffe'.
A food pass - photo copyright  Whycliffe

The birds (apart from the male) showed off well, with plenty of flying about during the morning. The juveniles have adopted a second home on the top of the blocks of flats over the river, where a pair of grey wagtails was discovered nesting in the river bank by Andy M.
A Watch Point earlier in the year 
Under Ian Layton's supervision (and his great ability to drag people over from the far corners of The Green), the Watch Points this year have run very well with some 2000 attendees (that's a ball park figure for now).
A massive 'thank you' both to him and especially to our band of trusty volunteers, too many to name but you know who you are! These three hour sessions are quite demanding and tiring, with often no breaks and no sitting down either.
As readers of this blog will know, Ian has been busy encouraging groups of people who wouldn't otherwise have encountered our birds to come and see them. Scroll down the blog and you'll see the very varied range of groups we've had come along.
The new feather banners, funded by our
lottery grant, worked well
Another big 'thank you' is due both to all our online viewers (many not able to get to Watch Points of course) and those of you who have donated this year. We'll tot up these donations and post a total here in a week or two. If you would like to donate, scroll down to find how to do it.
For anyone living in the BBC East Midlands TV area, the programme 'Urban Jungle' which includes sequences showing the ringing of the chicks, will be shown sometime later this month. As soon as we have a transmission date we will post it here....the BBC has promised to let us know as soon as they know.
We must also thank the cathedral staff for their support and forbearance. John Armitage, the cathedral volunteer responsible for visits, has been particularly helpful and supportive - so he deserves a special mention, as do all the vergers who have helped us in many ways too.

With luck, the juveniles will gain more confidence day by day and gradually learn to hunt for themselves. As you know, the next six months of their young lives are fraught with danger. They must catch enough food to live on, avoid flying into buildings, wires and other obstacles and keep themselves away from humans too (not everyone likes peregrines!). Whether they will all survive we will probably never know.
Watch out for the BBC Urban Jungle programme,
coming to the East Midlands  region soon