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: .
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: .
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 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 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:


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 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 ).
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 .
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