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


Roger said...

Congratulations and well done to all the team.

Helen said...

Many thanks to everyone involved for doing such a great job. Fantastic!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks to everyone. I missed birds so much!

Heather said...

So pleased to hear that everything went smoothly installing the new platform, amazing the 'temporary' one has lasted ten years. Congratulations to all the team for such an amazing job, cerainly had a fine day for it and just in time before Storm Barbara strikes. Hope our peregrines appreciate their new home - wonder if the building work with all the scaffolding etc will upset them in any way. They do, however, seem to take most things in their stride so let's hope we have yet another successful breading season in 2017.

Wishing all the Team and the many armchair viewers a very Happy Christmas.

Peregrine Project Member (Nick M.) said...

Thanks all. It took a lot of planning and behind-the-scenes work to get to this point. Almost like a re-run of the initial 2006 installation.

To answer Heather's point, yes, we did foresee the potential for disturbance whilst roofing works are completed, and liaised closely with the Cathedral and Natural England last summer when this work was being planned so as to ensure any such risk is minimised or removed. So, the scaffolding with its covering will be going up prior to egg-laying i.e. by the end of the first week of March. We have liaised with Natural England officers and advised that we believe the noise of building work from underneath the roof coverings will not affect them unduly, providing people cannot be directly seen by the falcons. We have a good working relationship with the cathedral and have previously worked with the builders, who will be aware of the need to keep voices down to a minimum when under the covers - but we accept that no major roofing repair can be done in silence. The covers will remain on the roof until well after the peregrines have fledged.

Our pair are now getting on in years, and we have assumed they will indeed breed again next season. Should they fail to do so, all this planning and scheduling will not have been necessary. But everyone has worked hard to get the best possible outcome for all parties (peregrines included) and to work within the laws of the land.

Wishing you all a very pleasant Christmas, wherever you are in the world.

Lynda said...

Well done to every-one and some interesting pictures, especially the night view.

Project Team said...

Thanks for all your kind comments. A few more photos added and the view east from the top after dark enhanced somewhat....
The Project Team

Joyce S said...

Well done to all of you!

Heather said...

Thanks Nick for your very informative comments regarding the building works to the roof. Good to hear that those involved are being so considerate to keep noise levels down to a minimum.

Disurbing news re the dead peregrine falcon found in Dumfries & Galloway which has tested positive for the H5N8 bird flu virus. Seems to be in several parts of the country including latest in Leicestershire and Somerset where 2 dead wigeons were found.

kate said...

Fantastic updates as always . Thank you o much Team, can't wait for New Year web cams, you really are all so appreciated.
Pleas God you have a peaceful Christmas and Happy New Year

Wendy Bartter said...

Nothing short of amazing what you dedicated team have achieved, thank you so much for your efforts & fingers firmly crossed for another successful season in spite of all the disruption!

Enjoy your Christmas's, wishing you all a happy & healthy 2017!

superbrad said...

Super descriptive and informative article well worth reading !!!
Congratulations to all involved with this project from conception to completion.
Well done and what a Christmas present for the resident Peregrine's.

Also I would like to say congratulations and thanks to all on the behalf of the many anonomous viewers and followers.

Fingers crossed for another sucessfull season.

Respect Ian "aka superbrad"

Peregrine Project Member (Nick M.) said...

Thanks Ian, and everyone. Check out our subsequent blog post for a sneak preview from one of our new cameras.