Tuesday, 20 December 2016

New platform and cameras installed

After weeks of planning and preparation, there's now a brand new peregrine nest platform on Derby Cathedral's tower. A team of volunteers worked for eight hours yesterday to carefully remove the old nest platform and install a new one ready for next year's breeding season.
New peregrine platform ready to be installed

It was a near-perfect day for the job, given the time of year - no wind, dry and not too cold! The day started at 9am with the new platform being assembled from its component parts out on the nave roof. At 10am the rest of the helpers arrived to assist us with the hauling and we joined together for a walk-though of the day's activities and a talk-through of the risk assessment and safety practices we needed to follow.

Massive thanks are due to Nick Evans who made the new platform, to all the helpers (Tim, Pam, Derek and Ellie - mostly from Derby's Oread Mountaineering Club). Nick Moyes masterminded the operation and the installation of new cameras, whilst Nick Brown crawled around inside, feeding through cables and carrying materials up and down the spiral staircase more times than he cares to remember.

Preparing to abseil down to the platform.
Nick Evans even had some festive tinsel on his helmet!
An extra long rope and pulley system were used to haul up the new peregrine nest platform from below, making it an effortless task for the abseil team to fit the new one into position and begin the work of screwing it on. Just as with the Nick Evans' original - and initially very temporary platform - none of the cathedral's ancient stonework was drilled or damaged in any way during the installation process.


Pre-planning is always the key to a successful and safe installation event.


The old platform comes down, guided by ropes to prevent rotation and snagging.
Once the new nest platform was securely fixed on the east face of the tower, two of the existing cameras that had previously been removed and refurbished were set back into position. As well as this, two completely new ones were fitted on, too, so it was a good day's work all round. It was getting dark just as the final cable connections were being made, and the two Nick's eventually abseiled back down to the nave roof, aided by the cathedral's floodlights. An hour later we had cleared up all our climbing equipment, carried down the old platform components and hastily confirmed that at least two of the cameras were fully operational. A third was clearly present on the computer network but its IP address could not being accessed at that time, whilst a fourth camera could not be found on the network at all. However, this was resolved a couple of days later when an incomplete network cable connection was discovered. All equipment appears now to be functioning correctly.


Nick's Moyes and Evans do a platform selfie
as they hang by their ropes!

Attaching the new platform
Nicks Moyes and Evans fix the new
platform in place.
Nick Evans, festively attired, removing the hauling tapes


Please note that, despite all this work yesterday, we will not be able to get pictures from these cameras out to you for some time yet. It it now all depends on how quickly the City Council and Connect Derby can work together to reconfigure our network connections to get our video signals out to the internet. These have been down since changes were made in late November. We may then find we still need to readjust final camera positions, as yesterday we could could only set them roughly into position, with no opportunity to view the pictures as we did so. With nine months of building work due to start on the nave roof of Derby Cathedral on 3rd January (which will completely cover it in scaffolding and sheeting), we will probably have to accept that any final adjustments or problems we encounter can only be resolved next summer when the covering comes down.

More on all this later.......

Meanwhile, here's the view the peregrines get from the tower top looking east towards Nottingham.
With the addition of the cathedral's floodlighting, the scene is both bright and has many moving lights too from the traffic below. This is the backdrop against which the birds do their night time hunting.
At this time of year (and with the winter solstice only two days away now), the nights are very long and the days short. No wonder the peregrines take to some 'easy-to-see' floodlit preying!
Night time peregrine eye's view looking East
from the top of the tower. New Premier Inn on
right, river with reflections just behind with series of square
lights in the footbridge that runs over it
And as few more photos somewhat belatedly:
Looking south down Irongate towards
the Market Place.


Derek and Nick E coil up the ropes after the two abseils.
Dead (uneaten) redwing found in one of the lead
troughs where it had been cached by the birds. The remains
of a woodcock and another redwing were also found.


The Peregrine Project Team

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

All change

As you will have noticed, our cameras have been off-line since November. This was caused by changes at Derby City Council which now prevent us using their IT networks. However, moves are underway to have things up and running again for the 2017 season.

We recently abseiled down and removed all our cameras. An extreme step, you may think, but all part of plans to make good the wear and tear on our ten-year old nest platform. One of our old analogue cameras will  be disposed of completely, whilst two others have been cleaned inside and out, re-sprayed and made ready for re-installation. We recently acquired some new cameras which we are making ready for installation.

We have received a kind offer from a long-standing supporter, Ashley Sims, to meet the cost of this work, which we'll tell you more about once it's all completed.

We hope to have everything sorted out in the next four weeks or so, but this is dependant upon on having a good 'weather window' for abseiling and the ability to schedule in some major work with the help of Derby Mountain Rescue Team. We shall still need to get our cameras configured to new networks, which we're hoping will also happen quite soon.

Nick Moyes and Nick Evans prepare to abseil down
from the top of the tower on 2nd December.

It's been ten years since Nick Evans constructed the first nest platform for us back in 2006. We've been keeping a careful watch on it over the last few years, and eventually realised it had got into quite poor shape.  Our intention is to sort these problems out before the start of next breeding season, and  in advance of some major re-roofing work which is about to begin next January at the Cathedral.

We'll tell you more when we have positive news about the next stages, so for now it's a case of "watch this space!" rather than "watch those webcams!"

The Project Team

PS: if the guys from datazonedirect are reading this - you've sent us the wrong length cables this time, guys! It'd really help if you can get replacements to us in the next couple of days.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

030 is back again at Rutland Water

While our cameras are offline (please read why on the previous post) here's some news about the bird with colour ring 030 on her leg.
This female was reared at the cathedral in 2015 and turned up at Rutland Water's Egleton Nature Reserve, some 60 kms ESE of Derby, in September of that year. Read the original story here
John Wright, a stalwart of the wonderful Rutland Osprey Project, contacted us and sent photos once he'd managed to read the ring number. He's recently been in touch again with further news of 030.
She stayed through the winter up to early May 2016 but then wasn't seen again - that is until this September:

John takes up the story:

"Your female peregrine from Derby, 030, is back wintering around Rutland Water/lagoon 4.
She is now in magnificent plumage, the only signs of immaturity being a few white and buffy spots on her crown and cheeks.

Just to remind you of the whole story from the beginning:

An adult female Peregrine with an orange/red ring was first seen around lagoon 4 (Egleton Reserve) in September (2016) though it wasn't until November that I managed to read the ring number. It was sitting in the usual spots as 030 did last winter and was assumed to be her but was too far away for the ring to be read by anyone. I was away from late August - mid October and when I returned she hadn't been seen for a few weeks.
She has now returned to Lagoon 4 where I took the attached photos on 5th November and also read her ring. She got a stick stuck in a talon (see photo below) while walking about in the Osprey nest and had a real job dislodging it. A bit embarrassing for a top predator!"


Our Peregrine (030) looks as if she's adding a stick to this osprey platform nest whereas
the truth is that the stick was accidentally caught up with her leg!
Photo: John Wright
"I have also attached photos of her from April 2016, chasing the Lagoon 4 male Osprey.
She became very elusive once the Ospreys settled down on the lagoon and I last saw her in early May".
030 chases one of Rutland Water's ospreys.....note the size difference.
Photo courtesy of John Wright
It will be interesting to hear if she stays around Rutland for the winter again.....maybe next summer she'll find a mate and leave Rutland for good?

Nick Brown for the Project Team


Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Disconnect first - then Connect Derby!

Connect Derby
Connect Derby logo

We would like to give advance notice of some interruptions to our webcam feeds over the coming months, as various changes are made behind the scenes.

Most noticeably, we expect our cameras to go offline later this week. Unfortunately we can't say just how long they will be down for. This break is necessary as we need to reconfigure our equipment and re-route our video signals through an alternative pathway. The reasons for this are rather technical, but it relates to UK government requirements for all equipment on - and people accessing - local council networks to meet certain stringent conditions in order not to compromise network security. We have been helped in this by colleagues at Derby City Council and the team from Connect Derby. I met with their friendly IT Analyst,Tim, yesterday and gave him a tour of the cathedral tower. He will be working to help us reconfigure our existing equipment as smoothly as possible over the next week or two. In fact, we're quite excited because we think that with their enthusiasm and business/innovation skills, we might be able to add extra functionality to the way our project is presented in future,

We often think it's nice to explain what goes on behind the scenes in our project, so we've offered Connect Derby a guest blog spot, should they wish to tell us about the great work they do in connecting local businesses in Derby to the ever-changing world of the internet. So watch this space.

Other possible changes that could affect us relate to forthcoming repair work on the cathedral itself, and whether we try to repair or replace our platform before or after this happens. We've been in discussion with Natural England about the implications of these activities, and are confident the scheduling won't adversely affect the breeding success of Derby's most iconic bird.

Of course, the adult peregrines don't move away in the autumn  or winter, so there should always be a good chance of seeing one or both of them if you're coming into Derby on a shopping trip or en route to work. Check the cathedral tower, but also check out nearby Jury's Inn, where our birds often like to sit and watch the ring-road traffic whizzing - or sometimes crawling - by.

Our apologies for any inconvenience these interruptions may cause.

Nick Moyes
Technical Advisor
Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Another one bites the (Derbyshire) dust

News has just emerged that a young peregrine, reared in Stoke on Trent this summer, was found close to a Derbyshire grouse shooting moorland in the Goyt Valley. It had been shot in its wing and subsequently died of its injuries....the latest in a series of incidents of wildlife crime on grouse moors in Derbyshire and elsewhere.

To read the full story go to:

https://raptorpersecutionscotland.wordpress.com/2016/09/13/peregrine-found-shot-next-to-grouse-moor-in-peak-district-national-park/ .
Photo of the bird shortly before it died.
This proves what we already guessed - that some of our young urban peregrines, once fledged, wander off and end up on moorlands where almost certainly they will 'disappear'.....since the game keepers will not tolerate any bird of prey on their shoots.
Such killing of raptors is illegal and constitutes 'wildlife crime'.....and it has been going on up in the moorlands of the Peak District National park and elsewhere in the UK for years.
So it is highly likely that some of the youngsters reared at Derby Cathedral end up being shot on the moors.....a real tragedy.

A national petition to ban driven grouse shooting has now reached 120,000 signatures which means that there will be a debate on this subject in the House of Commons sometime in the autumn.

A local and new petition is now open for people to sign and we urge you to do so if you are appallled by the news above.
Earlier this year, a man with a gun was filmed sitting near a decoy hen harrier on a Derbyshire moor owned by the National Trust and leased by them to a shooting tenant. The incident was too far off for any prosecution to be made but the National Trust is throwing the shooting tenant off - a move we applaud.
The petition now asks the Trust NOT to put another shooting tenant on this huge moor but to manage it for wildlife and restore its biodiversity. To read the background and find a link to the petition please see: www.nomoorshooting.blogspot.com .
And do please sign up if you will. We have 2000 signatures in a month since the petition started but we need many more......

The Project team

Sunday, 14 August 2016

The season draws to a close

Update (23/8/16) We had a break in service from our webcams, but these are now operating once again. Apologies for any disappointment caused.

Update 10 September: It seems that the bird seen and heard on St Luke's is a local falconer's bird and NOT one of ours. NB.

As we head for the middle of August it is to be expected that the four young birds will begin to drift away from the cathedral and start to live their independent lives. Web cam watchers report the occasional view of one youngster on the nest platform plus, of course the adults (mainly the male) who hang about all year.
One interesting report has come from someone who lives near St Luke's church. On more than one occasion he's heard the calls of peregrines coming from the church tower.
St Luke's church
This very tall tower looks ideal for peregrines to perch on. It's not that far from the cathedral and the suspicion is that at least one of the juvenile birds has made a temporary base there.
The only other tall structures we know the peregrines use, apart from the cathedral and Jurys Inn, is the police aerial mast in Chester Green though we have had no reports from there this year.
Police aerial mast
Only very occasionally have we seen an adult peregrine (or indeed a juvenile) perch on St Mary's Church just to the north of the cathedral. This Roman Catholic building is not nearly as tall as the cathedral tower but seems to be frowned on by our birds.
If you live in or visit Derby you might care to check out St Luke's in particular. So far, our own visits haven't produced any sightings.....let us know if you do see one there.
The Project Team



Saturday, 30 July 2016

Peregrines in Peril or in Paradise?

In towns and cities such as Derby, nesting peregrines are more or less safe from persecution...so they live in a sort of 'paradise'.
Not so elsewhere unfortunately.
If these falcons nest on or near a grouse shooting moor, almost all the predatory birds that venture onto the moor somehow mysteriously 'disappear'.
They are indeed 'Peregrines in Peril'! 
Methods used to remove birds of prey include shooting, trapping, poisoning, robbing the eggs or killing the chicks in the nest.
Peregrine with its leg trapped and broken by a
spring trap set at its nest in the West Midlands.
Photo RSPB
All these acts are illegal but because our moorlands are so remote, wildlife crime generally goes unnoticed and the culprits get off scott free. Even if they are caught, they only get cautions or small fines; only extremely rarely are they sent to prison.
Away from our uplands, pigeon fanciers also take the law into their own hands and quietly get rid of peregrines nesting in the vicinity. Low cliffs and old quarry faces where the falcons tend to nest can easily be scaled and traps set or the nest contents removed - especially under the cover of darkness.
They may also be poisoned.

Derbyshire successes and failures
In Derbyshire this year, initial results from the monitoring of rural peregrine nests has come up with these results:

Of a total of 19 nest sites surveyed:
  • 5 succeeded to rear young but usually less than 4 per nest.
  • 14 failed. These are essentially rural sites with no protection by either cameras or wardens.
    Some of these sites failed twice - ie the birds laid again after losing their first clutch of eggs but the second clutch 'disappeared' too. 
(We am indebted to the Derbyshire Raptor Groups  and the DOS (county bird club) for this information).


Quarry (not in Derbyshire) where peregrines nest
but with no protection......
As we know from Derby, where young have been raised every year since 2006, peregrines make great parents, sitting on their eggs through rain and snow and shielding their chicks from excessive sun (not that we've had much of that this year!).
Such a high 'failure' rate away from towns can only mean one thing - illegal persecution is widespread and commonplace.

Raptor persecution on Derbyshire's moorland.

On the grouse moors, detecting wildlife crime is extremely difficult. It either relies on some walker or bird watcher accidentally stumbling across a carcass or a trap.
In Derbyshire earlier this summer it was a pair of bird watchers who spotted something odd through their telescope on the grouse moor where they were walking. They managed to get a video of an armed man sitting in the heather waiting. Nearby was a model of a male hen harrier which has been placed as if it was perching on the heather, clearly aimed at luring any passing harrier close enough so it could be shot.
Man with gun waiting near (grey) model of male hen harrier
on a Derbyshire moor owned by the National Trust
This happened on National Trust land - land that the Trust had let to a grouse-shooting tenant.
The armed man was too far off to be recognisable and, despite making enquiries, the police did not have sufficient evidence to bring anyone to court. Maybe next time.
To its credit, the National Trust has since terminated the tenant's lease and has said it will advertise for a new tenant next year. There are hopes it will not take on another shooting tenant, but will decide instead to manage the moor for both wildlife and people, restoring what is a damaged, burnt habitat to something much better and richer in wildlife. Fingers crossed!

So, how can we privileged web cam watchers help end end wildlife crime on the moors?
Well, on the week end of 6/7th August, 'Hen Harrier Day' events are being held across the UK.
On Saturday 6th at Rainham Marshes RSPB reserve NE of London, Chris Packham and Mark Avery are the speakers.
Our own Derbyshire Hen Harrier Day event takes place at 11am on Sunday 7th in Edale, with hundreds of people expected to turn up in support. Speakers include representatives of the National Trust, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, the new Police and Crime Commissioner and Natalie Bennett of the Green Party.
For details of all the events (and maybe there's one near you?) go here.
Do please consider turning up at one of them if you possibly can. 
As 'veterans' of the first two Hen Harrier Days, we can assure you there's a great atmosphere and sense of common purpose. See this video made at Hen Harrier Day in 2014 in the pouring rain when an astonishing 570 people turned up in North Derbyshire!

Male hen harrier - what a wonderful bird!
In addition, there is currently a petition calling for the banning of driven grouse shooting. It's an e-petition to the government and requires 100,000 signatures in order for there to be a debate in the House of Commons. So far 67,000 people have signed. Please note however that neither the RSPB or the Wildlife Trusts as yet support this petition or this approach....so you will have to make up your own minds about whether to sign or not.
The e-petition is here and for more information about the issues see a video by Chris Packham here and a blog here and another from DWT here explaining its 2015 position.

The Project Team










Moorland Vision website and petition: http://nomoorshooting.blogspot.co.uk/





Links


Moorland Vision
Hen Harrier Day in the Peak

Monday, 11 July 2016

What now? and further videos from Wendy Bartter

Update July 14th: Wendy Bartter has just sent this video showing three juveniles on the nest platform/scrape yesterday. Thanks again Wendy!
Update 21st July: another video from Wendy, this one taken on 19th July.
Apologies for the double appearance of this blog post. If I try to delete it I will lose all the comments so for now  I'll just leave then both up.
28th July and a further video by Wendy showing the adult male feeding.

What can you watch now that our juveniles are getting less frequently visible from the web cams?
Wimbledon and the football are over too.....so what's to do (apart from the dreaded housework)?
Well, as several commentators have mentioned, there are web cams on many other nests of other species - ospreys in particular - for whom the season is not yet over.
The Wildlife Trusts have many web cams on ospreys, puffins, gannets and owls so try the link here to
find links to them all.
Osprey chick at ringing
Photo Roy Dennis
Here in Derby it has been a very successful season with four young fledged, lots of visitors coming to the watch points and over 330,000 hits ot the blog and webcams.
So if you've enjoyed following our birds this summer, please consider sending us a donation.
The donation tab at the top of the blog takes you to a page which explains the various ways you can transfer money to DWT specifically for this project - it's very easy and quick!
(If you have already donated you should have had a personal 'thank you' email but if you haven't by any chance then please contact us at peregrines@derbyshirewt.co.uk ).
With our peregrines being so safe and well protected here in the city, perhaps we should spend time thinking about those that choose to nest on our moorlands where grouse shooting takes place and where their lives a re constantly in danger from illegal persecution.
You might like to support Hen Harrier Day events which are taking place all over the UK mostly on Sunday August 7th. These are designed to draw attention to the plight of hen harriers and indeed any bird of prey that ventures onto a grouse moor including peregrines, kites, eagles, buzzards etc. Illegal persecution is rife and very few survive to breed.....
The Derbyshire hen harrier day event takes place in the north of the county at Edale....see here with speakers from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, the Green Party etc. We are expecting hundreds of folk to turn up.
For details of other HHD events (including one with Chris Packham at Rainham Marshes Reserve near London on 6th) see here.
Chris Packham speaking at the first Hen Harrier Day in 2014 held in North Derbyshire
Your local wildlife trust will have a range of wildlife walks and other activities you could attend throughout the summer. Visit the website of your local county trust for details. Those of the Derbyshire Trust can be seen here.
Join up and support us!

To join the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust please go here. To join your local trust elsewhere visit the national website for all the 49 trusts here.
Otherwise, may we dare suggest you try to tear yourselves away from your screens and get outside (if the weather is suitable) and enjoy what wildlife is around you in your garden, local park or nature reserve. There's so much to be seen and enjoyed in summer - flowers, butterflies, dragonflies and much more - so why not get close to nature if you can?
A hobby falcon - painting by Dan Powell
These close relatives of the peregrine breed late and still
have young in the nest......
If you have an inspiring encounter with nature we'd be happy (delighted even) to post it on this blog. Email us at peregrines@derbyshirewt.co.uk .
While these four young falcons will disperse away from the cathedral in the coming weeks, our adult birds will remain around the cathedral all year, ensuring no other peregrines take over. Unlike almost every other peregrine project, our blog remains open and active (if somewhat less so) through the autumn and winter so do keep commenting and letting us know what you are up to!
With thanks and best wishes to everyone who has been following us this summer.

The Peregrine Project Team

What now? and a further video

Update July 14th: Wendy Bartter has just sent this video showing three juveniles on the nest platform/scrape yesterday. Thanks again Wendy!
Apologies for the couble appearance of this blog post. If I delete one of the two I'll lose all the comments so for now I'll leave both up. The other post has more videos linked to it. NB.
What can you watch now that our juveniles are getting less frequently visible from the web cams?
Wimbledon and the football are over too.....so what's to do (apart from the dreaded housework)?
Well, as several commentators have mentioned, there are web cams on many other nests of other species - ospreys in particular - for whom the season is not yet over.
The Wildlife Trusts have many web cams on ospreys, puffins, gannets and owls so try the link here to
find links to them all.
Osprey chick at ringing
Photo Roy Dennis
Here in Derby it has been a very successful season with four young fledged, lots of visitors coming to the watch points and over 330,000 hits ot the blog and webcams.
So if you've enjoyed following our birds this summer, please consider sending us a donation.
The donation tab at the top of the blog takes you to a page which explains the various ways you can transfer money to DWT specifically for this project - it's very easy and quick!
(If you have already donated you should have had a personal 'thank you' email but if you haven't by any chance then please contact us at peregrines@derbyshirewt.co.uk ).
With our peregrines being so safe and well protected here in the city, perhaps we should spend time thinking about those that choose to nest on our moorlands where grouse shooting takes place and where their lives a re constantly in danger from illegal persecution.
You might like to support Hen Harrier Day events which are taking place all over the UK mostly on Sunday August 7th. These are designed to draw attention to the plight of hen harriers and indeed any bird of prey that ventures onto a grouse moor including peregrines, kites, eagles, buzzards etc. Illegal persecution is rife and very few survive to breed.....
The Derbyshire hen harrier day event takes place in the north of the county at Edale....see here with speakers from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, the Green Party etc. We are expecting hundreds of folk to turn up.
For details of other HHD events (including one with Chris Packham at Rainham Marshes Reserve near London on 6th) see here.
Chris Packham speaking at the first Hen Harrier Day in 2014 held in North Derbyshire
Your local wildlife trust will have a range of wildlife walks and other activities you could attend throughout the summer. Visit the website of your local county trust for details. Those of the Derbyshire Trust can be seen here.
Join up and support us!

To join the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust please go here. To join your local trust elsewhere visit the national website for all the 49 trusts here.
Otherwise, may we dare suggest you try to tear yourselves away from your screens and get outside (if the weather is suitable) and enjoy what wildlife is around you in your garden, local park or nature reserve. There's so much to be seen and enjoyed in summer - flowers, butterflies, dragonflies and much more - so why not get close to nature if you can?
A hobby falcon - painting by Dan Powell
These close relatives of the peregrine breed late and still
have young in the nest......
If you have an inspiring encounter with nature we'd be happy (delighted even) to post it on this blog. Email us at peregrines@derbyshirewt.co.uk .
While these four young falcons will disperse away from the cathedral in the coming weeks, our adult birds will remain around the cathedral all year, ensuring no other peregrines take over. Unlike almost every other peregrine project, our blog remains open and active (if somewhat less so) through the autumn and winter so do keep commenting and letting us know what you are up to!
With thanks and best wishes to everyone who has been following us this summer.

The Peregrine Project Team

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Final Watch Points and still plenty to see.....

Update 10th July: the final Watch Point morning started in torrential rain but our determined volunteers hung on and by lunchtime the sun was out. Jane Tagg, one of our trusty volunteer band reported that the birds were indeed on show and that the juveniles were very noisy. The watch point continued until about 2.30 pm. Huge thanks to Jane, Antony, Sue, Helen and Mark for their dedication to the cause.

Update 7th July: at least two juveniles have been seen from the web cams in recent days. Wendy Bartter has sent this video taken yesterday. The final Watch Point is THIS SATURDAY (9th).
With luck there should be some excellent action to be seen.


The Watch Point on 2nd July was conducted in fine if rather blowy conditions. Our volunteers introduced over 100 people to the falcons and the project.
Much of the time all six peregrines were in view.
For a considerable time all six birds were in view on the cathedral together - something that has very rarely happened in previous years.
Three juveniles were on the ledge above the nest and one was in the nest platform. The male squeezed into a tiny crevice at the top of the louvred window above the nest and the female sat in her 'normal' post fledging perch just below the nest. Apparently earlier in the morning there had been much flying and chasing about.....delighting the folk watching below!
Can you find the three juveniles in this shot by Joyce Sawford?
They're all there.....

Thanks are due to our great team of volunteers for running the show (Joyce and Tony, Andy, Hilary, Jane W and Jane T) ably supported by Marc from DWT.

Only a couple of streets away, the rare white letter hairstreak butterfly was to be seen flying above its favourite elm tree. Well worth having a look for if you are in Derby in the next couple of weeks or so. The elm itself is on King Street (A6 northbound) where it crosses above the inner ring road about 150 yards beyond the Flowerpot pub. Parking is available in the Chapel Street multistorey CP.

The elm looking north as you stand on the bridge over the
Inner ring road. Photo: Ken Orpe.


White letter hairstreak by Colin Bowler

The final Saturday Watch Point is next Saturday 9th July so if you've not been yet, and even if you have, do come along and enjoy watching these magnificent birds before the juveniles begin to disperse.
If you need a coffee or lunch the Cathedral cafe on Irongate will be happy to oblige (try their excellent Bakewell tart!). And if it should be fine and not too windy, do have a look for the hairstreak!

Please note there is NO Watch Point on Wednesday 6th.

The Project Team

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Watch Point Saturday 25th June and cancellation of 29th Watch Point

PLEASE NOTE THE WATCH POINT TODAY (Weds 29th) has been cancelled due to heavy rain. Sorry for the late notice!

It seems to have been a very eventful day down in Derby yesterday.
One of our volunteers, Helen Naylor, wrote:
"Despite the rain it was great to see all six birds for most of the time at today's watch point. The juveniles are all flying really strongly now and landing well. They look very confident." (And Joyce Sawford reports that all six birds were again visible this morning, 26th).

DWT's Marc Whitlock, who with Emma Wood, has been working alongside our splendid volunteers this summer, penned this report when he returned home:

25th June Watchpoint

A day when stepping from your door
You wonder what season to dress for.
Dark clouds gathered overhead
Filling all below with dread.
A retreat (fastest ever seen)
Under the trees on Cathedral Green.
But were we down or feeling tearful
Training scopes on cowering tiercels?
Heavens no! Out came the sun
To the delight of everyone!
Folk came again from all around,
One hundred strong came down and found
Six falcons perched way up high
On Jury’s Inn on the letter ‘Y’.
One youngster, in a gutter, on the tower
Avoiding yet another shower.
Practice flights between these perches,
Swivelling scopes making searches.
From the tower over our local
Flew able flyers, often vocal.
Mum gave lessons in the sky
With deft manoeuvres as they fly,
Honing skills in passing prey
Was spectators’ highlight of the day.

Marc W

Thanks Marc and thank you to everyone who has visited a watch point and made a donation.

If you've enjoyed our web cams but haven't donated yet, please consider doing so. It's very easy.
Click on the donate tab at the top of the blog.
Thank you

The project team

Ps. To see photos of our birds please visit the Derby Peregrines Flickr site here.

Saturday, 18 June 2016

All fledged...and the trials of the last one to go


As you may have seen from the previous post, all four youngsters have  now fledged.
The last one to go ( a big female) left this morning, watched by everyone at the Watch Point.
Wendy Bartter's video is here.
Here are some photos taken by Joyce Sawford, one of our trusty band of volunteers:

Landed in a sycamore tree
Mobbed by a mistle thrush....no peace for the wicked!

A bit less hassle here on another church near
the cathedral
Now this is better and higher....but I certainly
need a lie down after all that!
There are more great photos (by Cliff P and Ian B) on the flickr site here.

Just a further little plea for donations before you all disappear and start watching football (ha ha)....
Big thanks to everyone who has donated this week....
The Project team

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Fledging gets underway and a request for donations

Update Saturday 3pm: all four have now fledged. The last one is now on a roof top near the cathedral and she has flown quite well to get there. She should be OK now. The Watch Point folk actually saw the last bird leave the platform and eventually located it quite low down on a building.
From there it flew to the roof top on which it seemed quite relaxed, despite the loud band playing at the back of the green where the watch point is held (down by the river). There was some gathering there this afternoon. We will upload some photos when we get them later this evening.
Thanks to everyone who helped today - a team effort! Cliff, who lives nearby, will make a further check this evening.
NB

Update Friday:
the second one has fledged this morning, captured on Wendy Bartter's video here (about 2 mins. in). Thanks Wendy!
Please see our comment to this post (by clicking on 'comments' at the bottom) to read why we can't be down there checking 24/7 and why it isn't really necessary since 85% of our fledgings happen with no problems at all. Usually it is a member of the public who finds and reports a grounded bird. As you can imagine in a busy city centre, there are so many places a bird can land and even when it's up high, much of the time the bird is invisible from the ground however many streets you walk down to look upwards. Over the years we've spend many many hours searching, usually in vain, so we've developed a system that seems to work and to ensure that no bird comes to harm.
We'll do our best to report back on what we discover asap but inevitably there will be delays.
Thanks for your patience.
Cliff Pearson, who has helped us many times over the years to find fledged birds, has reported mid evening Friday that he can see both fledged juveniles on the tower as well as the two in the platform...so all's well, for now anyway. Thanks Cliff!
The Watch Point tomorrow should ahve better weather....we hope!
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Early morning today (Thursday 16th) the first one of our juveniles fledged from the platform.
Whether it was pushed or just fell off backwards we don't quite know but it was discovered later on the nave roof, immediately below the nest, none the worse for its fall.

Sliding down the slippery nave roof.....

Thanks to all the commentators who have been watching today plus those on the ground.
The photo below shows it on the balustrade:
Where on earth am I? Photo: Helen Naylor
With the weather set to improve as we head towards the weekend we can expect more fledging shortly. Let's hope the remaining three show a bit more finesse!

The next Watch Point on Saturday (10am - 2pm) could be quite exciting so do come and see if you can experience fledging happening as you stand watching.There's sure to be some fun and games.....

Donate to our Project
Unprompted, several of you have sent us donations this week - many thanks to everyone who did!
We are now appealing for more s
o if you can spare us some cash, please click on the 'donate' tab above. It is really simple to make a donation and now, with no lottery money to underpin our work, we need every penny we can get.
Thank you.

Nick B (DWT)

Monday, 13 June 2016

Not just peregrines on the cathedral and an Update

Update Thursday: the first bird to fledge apparently 'fell backwards' from the platform early this morning (thanks Garry!). It turned out it was on the nave roof below, so it's quite safe for the time being anyway.
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Update Tuesday 15th June: no fledging yet and the weather remains very poor which will deter them (unless one gets a push....!).
The Watch Point this morning was steady.....with rain threatening but staying away mostly. Thanks to Steve, Jane and Paul for running it for us. Paul reported that the male brought in prey about 3pm but that the female promptly took it off him and disappeared. Hopefully, after some plucking, she fed the chicks.....
NB did an interview for Radio Derby - listen here. It comes about one hour 15 minutes into the programme. 
Thanks to everyone who has been commenting, especially those saying there are still four  - which is always reassuring to know and saves us looking ourselves (all your comments appear among our emails so we keep an eye on them directly). 
Plans are in place should any of the youngsters come to ground. Since 2006 only six have done so - so let's hope this year they all get airborne successfully!
Hello to New Yorkers Sandee and also Samantha (and her class). Great that you are watching our birds! Oh, and hello to Puffin Class too!
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While we have obviously focused our attention on the peregrines, other birds have been nesting near by.
Take for example this nest of mistle thrushes on the stonework surrounding a window on the south side of the cathedral. You can just make out the nest two thirds of the way up the right hand side of the window.


There were four chicks which have flown today and are now in the adjacent trees I'm told.


Gary Roots took this photo of one of the parent birds nearby in the rain today. Like the peregrines, mistle thrushes make great parents, fearlessly chasing off any potential threats to their young.
A rather wet adult mistle thrush with food for its young.....by Gary Roots
Other birds that nest on the cathedral in most years include wood pigeons, stock doves and feral pigeons.
Since all these birds stay close to the building they are generally not in danger from the peregrines.
One spring, many years ago now, a pair of ravens arrived at the cathedral and began stealing the peregrines cached food. They even started to place a few sticks on a ledge to start a nest but the falcons soon put a stop to that!
Perhaps there are nests of birds near you, something for you to watch once these juvenile peregrines fly the nest? And if you have a birthday coming up, why not invest in some binoculars and see what birds you can see ('for real' this time) in your garden and your local patch.........
Nick B (DWT)



Sunday, 12 June 2016

Fledging time approaches

Our four chicks are now fully feathered, with only a few specks of fluff remaining.
So we can expect them to prepare themselves for fledging by wing flapping and getting on the edge of the platform to feel the air and get their bearings.
While it is possible that one of them might accidentally get pushed off and be forced to fly early, the wing flapping stage can (and usually does) last for several days.
It will also happen that one or more juvenile will disappear from the platform, only to re-appear again some time later.
They begin to climb up at the back of the platform to positions invisible to our cameras.
Already several observers have struggled to see all four of them and have thought one must have fledged only for it to reappear minutes later.
Since 2006, we have had seven or eight of the juveniles come to ground on their maiden flight.

This male came down in 2011. he was much easier to catch
and handle than any of the females!

Alert watchers or passers-by have contacted us and we had managed to catch the fallen birds, put them in a large cardboard box (within which they settle down and stop flapping) and take them back to the top of the tower for a second attempt. These 'second goes' have so far always been successful.
This morning I took a 'rescue' box, gardening gloves plus cloth (to throw over a fallen bird) down to the cathedral ready in case one does come to ground.
Two years ago none did. Last year only one did and here she is:


This big female came down in 2015.....quite a handful!

It is usually the heavier females that find it hard to maintain height on their first flights and end up on the ground, from which they can't get airborne again.
So, if you actually see a juvenile take to the air, please leave a comment on the blog. If you can see only three or fewer, keep watching because they may reappear from their hiding places!
Every year we expect to get many false alarms.....and I'm sure this year will be no exception.
As soon as we get news of one of the juveniles really fledging, we'll post the news here.
Latest video
Wendy Bartter has kindly sent this speeded up video made today of the youngsters, for which, many thanks Wendy. (I see a grand prix was taking place on the streets below!)
Nick B (DWT)

Report on Watch Point 11th June:
After a fairly uneventful start yesterday's watch point proved to be quite exciting with lots of action from both the juvenile and adult birds throughout the latter part of the morning and early afternoon. The young birds could be seen vigorously flapping their wings, and peering over the edge of the platform. The white downy feathers that were present last week are now almost completely gone and their beautiful juvenile plumage could be clearly seen through the telescopes. On numerous occasions at least one of the juveniles spent time perched confidently on the edge of the platform.

Part way through the morning a small flock of around four or five gulls (possibly lesser black backed gulls) drifted overhead causing the juveniles to set up an alarm call, and bringing the female quickly back to the tower. Despite being smaller than the gulls she put up quite a fight, immediately flying straight towards one of them of and bringing her talons in to contact with it. The gull was almost brought down but fortunately it managed to make a lucky escape. Quite a sight right above the watch point! 
The male bird arrived later on and after sitting on the tower for a while he treated us to some great fly pasts. A possible third peregrine was also spotted high above in the clouds. Both adult birds again provided us with lovely views whilst perched on the nearby hotel lettering. Helen Naylor. Watch Point volunteer.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

100 attend David Lindo event

About 100 people came to the cathedral this evening to hear David Lindo in a lively Q&A session with Brian Ashley (of the Arts Council).



Earlier, David called at the all-day Watch Point for a photocall with our marvellous volunteers (in red) and staff (in blue).
From left: Steve, Joyce, Marc, David L, Emma, Tony and Paul
It was a lovely sunny day and the adult peregrines put on a great food passing display while David was there though the female dropped the prey and had to dive down to re-gather it!
Meanwhile the four chicks continue to grow and now have very little down left. They are not ready to fledge yet....give them at least another week or maybe ten days before that begins to happen (we think!).
Wendy Bartter captured this vidoe clip this morning...with some panting going on as you will see here .

The project team


Monday, 6 June 2016

Wednesday 8th June special talk, watch points - and beyond

On Wednesday this week our Watch Point, prior to the evening talk by The Urban Birder, David Lindo, will run from 11am right through to about 6pm.
David's talk in the cathedral begins at 6.30 and tickets are still available via the Derby Book Festival website (please see previous post by scrolling down).
David Lindo (right) with our Nick Moyes in 2010
when David visited our project

Ticket holders have been invited to arrive early both to see a small display in the cathedral and to visit the Watch Point in small batches to see the birds 'for real'.
We hope you can either come to the Watch Point during the day or, if you are a ticket holder, come around 5pm - 5.30pm to have an escorted visit (please sign up in the cathedral first though).
The weather should hold so we are looking forward to a lovely evening (fingers crossed!).

More on David Lindo (also see his website here)
David Lindo was brought up in London but somehow managed to get interested in bird watching. His local 'patch' was and still is Wormwood Shrubs...not the prison you understand but the wild open area close by. This green oasis among all the buildings has attracted all sorts of remarkable birds, both residents and especially migrants. To a degree, it mimics Derby's own Sanctuary Reserve at Pride Park. This urban nature reserve is owned by the city council....and a long campaign was waged over its development in 2013/14.
David has visited cities all over the world looking for birds and other wildlife that lives in them. He's definitely one of the world's experts of Urban Wildlife - so the evening should be very interesting.

Future Watch Points (WP) and their timings

Some minor changes to what we advertised in the earlier blog are as follows:

Saturday WPs: start at 10am and go on until at least 1.30/2 pm depending on demand. They are every Saturday now until and including July 9th.

Wednesday WPs (in June only) are from 11am to 2pm.each week.

There will be NO Wednesday WPs in July.

The project team (Nick M, Emma W, Marc W and Nick B)


Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Watch Point events on Cathedral Green and two reports



Please Note: we are aware of connection issues which are affecting our live cameras. These are beyond our control, but rest assured they are being investigated by Derby City Council's network engineers as a matter of priority since other services are also being affected.

Upcoming Watch Points:
The next Watch Popint will be on Wednesday 8th June and will start at 10 am and run straight through until just before David Lindo's talk at 6.30pm (have you booked your ticket yet?).
Before and after the talk we will have a display and videos of some highlight moments showing in the cathedral . Do come and say hello before or after David's talk entitled 'Tale from Urban Jungles'!

For details of the talk (which will include slides about our Derby peregrines) and to book tickets, see here.

Report on Watch Point 4th June
A near perfect day for a first watch point of the season (fairly calm with bright but not too sunny skies) resulted in steady views of the adult birds.
Nice to meet up again with some old friends and greet some new people. If you are new to our website and visited us today (along with approx. 130 other people) we offer you a warm welcome and hope you enjoyed seeing these magnificent birds.
We had a steady stream of visitors from as far afield as Eritrea and Austria along with many local people.
The chicks are still rather small to get really good views of but we did get some tempting glimpses of them moving around. They are now losing their fluffy white down and the feathers are showing below. This gives them a very scruffy appearance at the moment.
The adults performed a food pass at about 12.45 right above our heads. It’s a good job they are very skilled at this! We held our breath in case the prey landed on or near us but of course we should not have worried  - the parents have impressive skills.
The falcon was present for most of the time, either sitting on the platform or on the nearby Jury’s Inn. The male brought in the large prey item and was met and relieved of it by mum.
We were all surprised a short time later to see the male seeing a buzzard off the territory which had obviously strayed a little too close for his liking. The buzzard put up no resistance and left, an argument he had no wish to pursue.
We closed the watch point at approx. 1.45
(We were pleased that people could see us via the web cams Karen - we did wave a few times.....).
Volunteers Chris and Andy M on behalf of the Watchpoint team.

Every summer, once the chicks are big enough to become visible from the ground, the Wildlife Trust organises a series of Watch Points on Cathedral Green - the grassy area immediately at the back of the cathedral on Full Street.
This year Emma Wood from DWT is the organiser, ably assisted by Marc Whitlock.
The first Watch Point will take place on Saturday 28th May between 10 am and (roughly) 1.30 pm depending on the weather and how many people are still around by that time.
Report on Watch Point 4th June
Another very busy and successful watch point today. There was a constant stream of visitors throughout the morning, including many families. It was good to welcome back some familiar faces from previous watch points, as well as lots of newcomers. A special hello to the home education group who attended today. They were clearly very knowledgeable about the falcons and it was great to know that they had made such fantastic use of our online resources. We would love to see their finished drawings and work!
Although the chicks spent quite a lot of time at the back of the nest platform, there were some good views of them wing flapping and stretching. They seem to have grown a lot since last week's watch point and have lost much of their white downy feathers. Both adult birds were around, and at one point they could be seen on the nearby hotel sitting next to each other on the lettering, which made for some interesting photo opportunities. Even at that distance it was easy to see the difference in size between them. The birds were also seen in flight on several occasions and the female's loud calls attracted lots of attention from passers by and our watch point visitors.

The volunteer team

There will then be Watch Points every Wednesday and Saturday up to and including 9th July.

For more details please click on the Watch Point tab above.
Please note that these events have no protection from the elements so if it is raining hard with no sign of stopping, the Watch Point that day won't happen.

If you live near Derby please do come along and introduce yourselves to Emma or Marc and to our wonderful team of volunteer helpers....and see our birds 'for real', flying about and perching on parts of the cathedral you can't see online.
The team will have telescopes at the ready giving you close up views. It is a quite different experience from watching online and well-worth making the trip to Derby for.
Watch Points are free and open-ended - so just turn up when you want.


The cathedral cafe is open opposite the front (West) end of the cathedral (on Irongate) and they do excellent lunches and brilliant Bakewell tarts...so why not drop in after you've seen the peregrines? The Silk Mill pub (also close by and a good friend of the Peregrine Project) also does light lunches and has an exciting range of beers!

David Lindo's talk on Wednesday 8th June
On Wednesday 8th, in the early evening (6.30 start) the self-styled 'Urban Birder' David Lindo, will be giving a talk in Derby Cathedral as part of Derby Book Festival. 
He calls it 'Tales from Urban Jungles' and it will include a section on Derby and our peregrines which David visited a few years ago.
Beforehand, our team will run a special Watch Point for anyone to visit before the talk begins.
To buy tickets for the talk (the Watch Point is free to ticket holders) visit the Festival website here .
Nick B and the Project Team

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Full brood at last and an Update

Update 12th May: after days of rain and an east wind blowing that rain directly into the nest, it's good to see how well the parent birds keep the chicks dry. Peregrines have been nesting on exposed, wild cliff ledges for millions of years and have evolved to protect their chicks and keep the rain off them so we shouldn't worry about the chicks survivability. As many commentators have said, peregrines make excellent parents and unless there is something genetically wrong with one of the chicks, or it gets some infection or disease, they normally will raise all four chicks to fledging.
The main mortality for these young birds comes after they leave the nest. At this stage there are many risks the novice juveniles have to face and it is not surprising that some don't make it to adulthood.
When you think about it, our adult pair only has to produce two offspring which go on to breed themselves to keep the population stable. Currently, urban peregrines are increasing across the UK so clearly pairs are producing more than two successful offspring during their lifetimes. The situation is quite different in some parts of the uplands of the UK such as the Peak District where persecution of many species of raptor, illegal as it is, continues unabated.
The project team

After a short delay, the last egg hatched last night (May 6th) about 8 pm.
Many thanks to all our dedicated commentators who kept vigil and reported what they saw.

Wendy Bartter captured this video clip, see here .

And Kate in Devon took this screenshot showing the egg shell:


Screenshot by Kate at 8.14pm last night
shows the eggshell just after the last chick emerged
A screenshot by Ann Foster showing all four chicks (that's food under those yellow feet!):


Nick B (DWT)