Monday, 23 March 2015

What is where?

Following questions and discussion on the blog, this post aims to explain where everything is on the cathedral tower...especially for newcomers and people who don't know Derby Cathedral.
View of the East face of the cathedral tower
As you can see, the  tower camera, (or 'pudding cam' as it has been called) is sited looking horizontally across the stone ledge well above the nest, with a view of Jurys Inn in the background. The three 'bumps' along that ledge are actually the 'rear ends' of three mythical beasts or 'grotesques' which the 16th century stone masons carved and fitted when the tower was being built. each grotesque has its head at the bottom and its bottom at the top! Those 'bottoms' are rounded and make ideal perching places for the peregrines. The right hand one is arrowed in the photo. The other two appear as black lumps to its left. If they had been carved with holes through their mouths to drain rain water from the roof, then they would be called gargoyles...but because the water is drained by a couple of lead pipes (in one of which, the left one, sits the pud cam) they are strictly 'grotesques'.
Am I a dog or what?
The large 'window' is actually filled with louvred wooden slats rather than glass, with wood behind to prevent any access by pigeons or indeed peregrines! The nest platform was screwed into the woodwork, carefully avoiding drilling or making any marks on the stonework on this Grade 1 Listed Building!
Looking down on the nest platform in winter

This photo, taken by Nick Moyes one December - and well before the nest clean-up, shows how the nest platform fits snugly around the stonework of the cathedral.

If you want to try a bird's eye view, try this aerial map, which allows you to view the cathedral from any direction. (Note that nearby Jury's Inn was still under construction when this picture was taken, and the re-laying out of Cathedral Green was also in progress.)

We hope this allows web cam viewers to understand the layout...let us know if not!

Nick B (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Ship shape and Derby fashion

As you can see, the nest has been cleaned and the cameras checked for the start of what we hope will be a successful tenth breeding season for our peregrine pair. Thanks to Nick Moyes, assisted by Ian Layton who we now know will be back with us for his third summer as Engagement Officer (part time) running the Watch Points among other things.
We are confident that these are the very same birds that originally colonised the tower back in 2004/2004.
Nick Moyes has abseiled down the tower to the nest platform
many times since it was installed in 2006
So the next question is: when will we get our first egg?
The Nottingham pair have just laid theirs but a pair in London were the first to lay an egg in the UK, doing so on 7th March - which is really early!
Four clutches of peregrine eggs
Last year our first egg was laid on 29th March. The earliest ever at Derby was in 2010 (23rd March) and the latest was in 2013 (on 4th April - the year of the late snowfall!).
Eggs are then laid at about two day intervals but not incubated until the third or (more usually) the fourth egg such that they all hatch about the same time.
Nick B (DWT)

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Calling all teachers!

Last year Ian Layton, our HLF-funded People and Peregrines Engagement Officer, with the help of a small group of dedicated teachers, prepared a number of Peregrine Resource Boxes for use by schools in the county and city.
These boxes contain a whole host of things to help you use these magnificent birds, the web cams and the blog in your curricular work. And they are entirely FREE to loan!
Contents of a resources box displayed
If your school is one run by Derbyshire County Council, then Georgina Greaves at the council is the person to contact if you want to loan a box. Boxes are delivered to your school via the normal channels. Georgina can be contacted by email at or on 01629 533439.
An imaginative menu for a peregrine!

Four red eggs drawn by a child at an infant school.....
If your school is in Derby City, please contact and we will arrange for you to have the single box that serves the city.
Nick B (DWT)
Ps. Ian will be starting work with us again within the next few weeks. Hurrah!! We also plan to put some of these school resources online, too, for anyone to use.


Sunday, 15 February 2015


As the nesting season approaches, we once again see typical courtship behaviour on the peregrine falcons' nest platform. Thanks to an anonymous commenter, who very helpfully left a note to say they had observed interesting behaviour at 13.55 on 12/2/2015, we were able to retrieve from our camera the short video clip below. This is quite typical of their courtship routine, and suggests we are yet again on track for a successful nesting season.

The second clip was captured just 20 minutes after sunrise on 17th February 2015. The much larger female is in the nest scrape on the right hand side, although this wide-angle perspective does make any object not immedately under the lens look so much smaller than it really is.

Please leave a comment on this blog if you observe activity worthy of sharing. Date and exact time are really important to help us retrieve the relevant video clip.

PS:. And a big welcome to any newcomers to this blog and to the web cams, especially if you were at the talk in Loughborough last Friday (attended by over 100 folk). The smudge on the camera lens will be cleaned off by Nick Moyes when he abseils down to the nest to clean it up and check and clean the cameras, sometime in the next 2-3 weeks.
Pps. Nick has put over 50 video clips on You Tube since he set up the cameras in 2007. They show all aspects of the peregrines' lives including bringing prey back, courtship (as above), egg laying, hatching etc.
To find them, use the QuickLink at the right side of our homepage. Or  put VC57UK into a search once you are on YouTube. If you want one topic, such as egg laying, the put 'Derby peregrines egg laying' into the search box.