Monday, 20 February 2017

Roof matters (part 3) and an Update

UPDATE 23rd February: the nave roof is now completely shrouded in its white plastic cover. So the workmen below the nest, who'll be there for the next five months replacing the old lead roof, will now be invisible to our peregrines on their nest platform above.
For anyone not looking at the comments to this blog we advise you to do so, since the excellent Wendy Bartter is making lots of video clips of our birds when they appear on the nest and posting them on You Tube. The links to each video is in her comments.
Three of her clips are embedded below,  but many more really interesting ones can be found in her comments. Just click on the  'comments' button at the foot of each blog post.

Work is proceeding apace to cover over Derby Cathedral's nave roof. The specialist scaffolders, (Tamworth Scaffolding) appear to be well ahead of schedule, which is great news.

We've been keeping an eye on progress and hoping their activities below the peregrines' nest platform would not put them off from breeding again this year. As the video below shows only too well, this is clearly not an issue. Watch this speeded up video from Feb 17th, showing strips of the weatherproof covering starting to be hauled into position like some giant roller-blind. At 1 min 20 sec our falcon flies in and looks down on the workers below. She stays for over 50 minutes whilst a number of people are walking about below, and is clearly quite relaxed about their presence.The same thing happens again later that afternoon.

Another sequence, also brilliantly captured by webcam watcher Wendy Bartter, shows clearly that courtship on the nest is still going well. At 2am on Feb 18th,  Wendy captured this sequence of 'ee-chupping'. The smaller tiercel (male) flies in first, and moves over to the nest scrape. At 2 min 30 sec the larger falcon (female) flies in from where they ee-chupp away to one another. At 3 min 30 sec into the clip he then flies off, leaving her alone on the platform.

We've finally managed to repair our damaged internet aerial cable and have managed to recrimp a couple of brand new specialised RP-TNC plugs onto our thick, LMR400 high frequency cable.
So, it's now ready for it being relocated on the outer edge of all the scaffolding, although we've just learnt that we will probably have to permanently relocate it within the tower itself. Whether we can beam our signals out through the fine leaded glass windows in the Clock Room where our control equipment is now located remains to be seen. But it's inevitable that our camera feeds will go down for a brief period whilst the builders try to rig up a suitable alternative location. So once again, do bear with is. Normal service will, as always, be resumed as soon as possible!

Friday, 3 February 2017

Roof matters (part 2)

Image by Tamworth Scaffolding
As expected, the scaffolders are now active on the nave roof of Derby Cathedral. This week they will continue fitting the long metal beams across it to form a central apex over which a strong, weatherproof plastic 'shroud' will then be stretched. Once it is, our peregrines will then not be able to see any movement of the builders working on the roof below them. Apparently, the work is ahead of schedule, which is good news.

Let's hope the birds are not phased by this activity and still visit their nest after 4pm (when work generally stops) and at weekends. If you see a bird on the platform at any time during the weekday, do please let us know by leaving a comment here on our blog, or sending a tweet to @derbyperegrines

For those of you who are aware of the law which states that disturbing a peregrine falcon on its nest is a serious offence, we can assure you that we have worked closely with the Natural England's wildlife advisors. Their advice has always been to ensure that roof work started well before the breeding season so that, if they did end up being disturbed by the activity below them, then they would simply give nesting a break for that year, and no offence would be caused because there would be no nesting activity to disturb. The Cathedral staff and builders have worked hard to schedule this work at the optimum time, and so it's been very pleasing so far to see our birds still happy to return to the nest ledge over the weekend of 4th/5th February. See here.

The end of our directional Yagi aerial can just be seen in the
bottom of the picture as a grey cylinder.
  Will it be able to stay in contact with The Silk Mill as work continues?
The one technical  problem we will soon be facing is the fact that our internet connection relies on a highly directional aerial to send our signals wirelessly to the Silk Mill opposite. (From there, a laser beam sends our signals onwards to Derby Council House and then out to the big, wide interwebby world.)  We expect the forthcoming metal beams to be blocking these signals, so are now looking to temporarily extend our aerial cable by 15metres (50ft) and place it at the edge of the scaffolding. And this has also been posing us a small challenge. Read more on this here

The Project Team

Here's another video captured by Wendy Bartter on Saturday morning showing that, clearly, our falcon has not been put off nest-scraping as a prelude to breeding this season.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Ee-chupp 2017 and an update

It's wonderful to see and hear our two adult peregrine falcons in their annual courtship routine in advance of this coming nesting season.  They will both fly to the nest site, face one another, with the much larger female calling loudly in an "ee-chupp, ee-chupp" manner. This may go on for a minute or more, and eventually the smaller male will eventually fly off, to human eyes seeming rather intimidated by her over-bearing presence. There she may remain at the nest site, for quite some time afterwards, giving us confidence that the building work below them has not put off this year's attempt to breed.

Once again Wendy Bartter has captured this lovely footage from our live webcam whilst watching from home at 5pm yesterday in fading daylight. You see them both arrive and then, 3mins 30secs into the video the tiercel (i.e. the male peregrine) flies off, leaving her alone and silent on the platform except for the ringing of the 5 o'clock cathedral bells.

This clip gives us a chance not only to compare the sizes of the two birds, but also to show how the very wide angle of our camera lens can itself lead to confusion. Close to the lens, she looks enormous; farther away she seems so much smaller - and this often causes us difficulties in determining whether it's the male or female when we just see the one bird in view.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Recent Activity

Whilst progress is still being made behind the scenes to bring you three new camera  feeds from Derby Cathedral, it's brilliant that webcam watcher, Wendy Barter, has been capturing moments from our one working web camera and posting them on YouTube.

The camera was refitted to our brand new platform, installed just before Christmas, as described here.
Screenshot by Kate showing the new gravel/slate and
the pale woodwork at the top of the scaffolding
which will soon hold the shroud which will cover the roof

We have additional new cameras which we will be putting online very shortly.

The clip below was captured early this morning, and looks like our adult male chilling out on the new nest site. Ignore the speeding traffic below - Wendy has speeded this up from real time.
Note also how the bird coughs up a pellet during the video.....we think this is the first time we've seen this on a video.