Thursday, 28 May 2015

Watch Points begin on Saturday

If you are new to this blog - Welcome! If want to find out more about the peregrines and their three chicks please scroll down to previous posts where you'll find video clips and news about them.
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This Saturday (30th May) sees the start of a series of public Watch Point events on the green behind the cathedral, organised by Ian Layton, our Engagement Officer.
There will be further Watch Points every Saturday up to and including 4th July.
They begin at 10 am and finish around 1.30pm but, as usual, will be dependent on the weather. If it is really very wet - they won't happen. Otherwise they will!
From the Green you get an excellent view of the nest (circled)
So do come along and see the chicks and adults 'for real', especially if you have only watched them on screen. It's a whole different experience! And you should see other birds too if you are lucky as they fly over the city or nest nearby. If you have binoculars bring them. If you don't - fear not - the views through the telescopes are brilliant!
Given some sunshine, the Green is a pleasant place
to stand and watch the birds
They are entirely free though should you wish to put something in a donations box we won't stop you!
The Watch Points are run by our faithful band of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust volunteers who will be on hand to answer your every question and make sure the telescopes are pointing in the right direction.
Hope to see you soon!

Watch Points for local businesses
This year, with help from Cathedral Quarter, an organisation that promotes this part of the city and which is a partner in our project, we are inviting staff from local businesses to see the birds from The Green. These mid-week (usually Wednesday lunchtime) Watch Points will have to be pre-booked so if you run or work for a local business, please get in touch with Ian via peregrines@derbyshirewt.co.uk .

Nick B (DWT)

Monday, 25 May 2015

With this ring.......

The ringing of the three chicks took place on Sunday evening (24th May) between 6 and 7 pm. The rain forecast for earlier in the day didn't materialise so the stonework and the roof of the nave were dry and Martin, our abseiler, made it down to the nest in double quick time.
Look closely and you can just see Martin and his red helmet
at the nest. Photo taken by Roger Lawson on the nave roof below.
The female was flying around above the tower screaming at him, the male (as usual), nowhere to be seen!:
"What's happening to my chicks?" Photo: Roger Lawson
The chicks were lowered in a rucksack down to the nave roof where Ant, our licenced bird ringer, was waiting for them.
They were taken inside the tower to a table where they could be ringed safely.
Each bird had a uniquely numbered British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) metal ring put on its right leg and a plastic coloured ring put on its left leg.
Ant rings one of the protesting chicks. Photo R Lawson
All three had obviously just had a very good meal, judging by the size of their extended crops!
That is a very full crop indeed! See the colour ring on the left leg
of this female chick. Photo Roger Lawson
As web cam watchers know, there were two big and heavy (female) chicks (now with colour rings numbered 030 and 031 on their left legs and a much smaller (male) chick with 032 on his left leg.
Meanwhile Martin was hanging about at the nest, cleaning the camera lenses and collecting prey remains ( a song thrush was about all that he could find). 
Soon the three chicks were back in the rucksack and being hoisted aloft. Martin put them back on the platform and lowered himself to the nave roof below. The ropes were lowered down and by 7pm we were away. The female was soon back and everything returned to normal.
Huge thanks to Martin, Ant and to Roger for their superb work. A very slick operation indeed this year!
Nick B (DWT)

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Extending our 'Reach'.....

The ringing of the three chicks took place last night (Sunday 24th May) and everything went very smoothly. Big thanks to Martin our abseiler and Ant our licenced ringer and also to Roger who gave us access to the various rooms in the tower and took photos for us.
The chicks now have a uniquely numbered BTO ring on their right legs and an orange/red ring with a short three digit number on their left legs (030, 031 and 032). The falcon was screaming at them as she flew overhead but, once the chicks were put back in the nest, she soon came back and everything returned to normal. Fuller details and photos to follow, hopefully sometime tomorrow. The egg was recovered and will be sent for analysis. It looked as if the chick had formed inside the egg but had been unable to break out from the shell. 
There seem to be some issues with the web cams and these may not be resolved until council IT staff are back at work tomorrow Tuesday. We apologise for this. NB._
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If you are new to this blog and want to see the videos showing our three chicks and read about them, then please scroll down this blog to the previous blog posts.
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Extending our 'reach'......
As part of the grant we have received from the Heritage Lottery Fund, we are employing Ian Layton again this summer both to run the Watch Points for us and to try to extend awareness and appreciation of the peregrines to people who we might not normally reach.
These include people from ethnic minority groups in Derby city and people with disabilities.
As part of this work, Ian organised a session about Derbyshire's wildlife at the Derby Refugee Centre earlier this week, aided by a small group of volunteers. A wide ranging discussion followed.
Ian wrote:
"On Tuesday a group of five of our volunteers and I went along to the Bosnia-Herzegovina Community Centre in Derby to talk to the local Refugee Community.
Hannah who supports the group had done a great job of publicising our visit and we had a good crowd of 25 people from many parts of the world including Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Eritrea, Albania, Libya, Pakistan and Ethiopia. Talks like this are always interesting as we never quite know what to expect – will the group be confident enough in English to chat with us? – will they have had any schooling before finding themselves in the UK? – what are their cultural views on wildlife let alone conservation? Well this group was a peach! There were at least two surgeons in the group – and perhaps most interestingly a young Eritrean man with a background in fishery stock conservation in the Red Sea – and enough folks were confident enough to chat with us and ask a whole range of questions.
Ian gives his presentation. Photo Joyce Sawford
We began by introducing people to the idea that Derbyshire is more than simply the city of Derby – and explained that there are many and varied landscapes and habitats across the county. We then looked at the different species to be seen – both the commonplace and the beautiful, rare and precious. The Cathedral peregrines certainly featured in the presentation!
Folks seemed to really warm to our badgers, to be highly amused that our most venomous snake tends to kill one person every century, and loved the critically endangered hazel dormouse that has been reintroduced to a secret site in the county.
We then went on to explain the threats our wildlife face from people – through persecution, changes in farming and through the introduction of invasive species – before explaining what Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project and others do help wildlife overcome these dangers – and perhaps most crucially – explained how the Refugee Community could really help us in our work.
It is really heart-warming that the refugee group are now piloting the Derby Wildlife Spotters Sheet that we plan to use at this year's Watch Points in an effort to get people to follow up the “wow factor” of the peregrines into real action to support our wildlife – AND – that we have seven people coming along to the  events at Sinfin and Peartree Libraries next week to help us better engage with the language and culture of Derby’s ethnic minority communities. A huge thanks to – Yahya, Malik, Michele, Abthalek, Saeed, Omar and Jourda – and we look forward to working alongside you all next week! – and of course an equally huge thanks to the five Project volunteers (Sue, Joe, Hilary, Paul and Joyce) who came along on the day and who are putting in the extra efforts needed to include the Refugee Community in our Project".
The seven volunteers assemble. Photo Joyce Sawford


Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Three Out Of Four Ain't Bad

(Update: After a crack was seen in the 4th egg this evening May 13th, webcam watchers were wondering if it has finally hatched, but this now seems unlikely. For up to date news, check out the 'comments' link at the bottom of this page)

In the hope of encouraging that last egg to hatch, I'm going to state that it's unlikely now to hatch at all! Statements like these always seems to come back to haunt me but, whilst five days from our other chicks hatching is a long while, there's still a little hope, although its rapidly diminishing. The clip below shows our male peregrine (tiercel) bringing food in to the nest this morning, which the female (falcon) duly feeds to the hungry and rapidly growing chicks.
Following these are some screen grabs kindly posted to Flickr by our webcam watchers.

This lunchtime I held a Skype call with a group of 6 to 7 year old children from Green Class at Brigg Infants School, and they asked some amazing questions. One of them (Ben) started off the session by asked how long peregrines live for. Although I could say the average life span of a peregrine is around 8 to 10 years, some individual birds are known to have lived for up to 17 years, whereas around half of all chicks rarely make it to one year old. After our classroom chat I went away and checked our own statistics, finding that the last year in which not all of the laid eggs had hatched out was back in 2007, when only two of the clutch of four eggs actually hatched out. So the stats are on our side, even if the clock isn't!