Monday, 10 December 2007
Meanwhile we will remove and rebuild the control unit which allows us to remotely focus and zoom one of our cameras. This was lashed-up for us last summer by John Salloway, who has kindly agreed to box it up to make it more rugged, too. To give you an idea of how close we can go, here's a picture captured during the summer of one of our ringed chicks. Click the image to enlarge.
Monday, 26 November 2007
Friday, 23 November 2007
Where would the birds be if the box were removed? - well, they would still be on the Cathedral, it's as simple as that. They chose the Cathedral as their favourite site in Derby, England, from which to hunt and on which to roost - just as other peregrines have probably done on and off here for hundreds of years.
Why do they return to the nest platform each day? Probably to assure themselves that it's still OK, and to reinforce their possession of it against any competition that might come through. We know that they have been undertaking occasional nest-scraping actions at least since mid-October, and in certain light the depression in the gravel on the left side of the platform is very clear to see. The picture on the left was taken on November 13th at 8.30GMT, just about 1.5hrs after dawn broke. The male on the right remained static, with head bowed, for about five minutes, and the female on the left didn't move much either. The picture below was taken on 18th November after the first snowfall of winter in Derby - the nest scrape is highlighted well under the infra-red light.
I didn't see them nest-scraping whenever I watched. Do the birds do this at a particular time, say in the morning or at night? Is this the job for the male or female?
I'm not sure there's a particular time that they do this. It's quite a rare event to see this time of year, and with the 15 second change of images it could easily be missed. You can see a video clip here As stated above, the most reliable time to see the birds is shortly after dawn, so try watching around 7am-8am local time. From our experience in 2007, we'd say that it's the adult male who does most of the nest-scraping.
Would the parents recognise the juveniles from this season if they returned? Well, based on the evidence we saw earlier in the year, we think they would. Visit our blog entries for March 21st and 6th April and you'll see two of our YouTube videos showing one of the previous year's chicks on the nest platform. Not only were the parents not bothered by their offspring's presence, at one point the adult male seemed quite intimidated by the young bird. I'm sure the juveniles were only tolerated because they were recognised as being the young of these particular birds. Elsewhere the young of other peregrines have been known to stay around and help feed the new season's chicks.
Now that the babes are ringed and fledged..have there been any sightings? And if so is there a place where they are logged and can be viewed?
The last known sighting of one of the peregrine chicks from 2007 was about 10 miles away, where a colour-ringed peregrine was seen in early October. It wasn't possible to tell if it was oo1 or 002. We will, of course bring you news of the juveniles as soon as we hear it. As far as I'm aware though, it's not currently possible to look up bird ringing results online - but I'll amend this if I'm proved wrong.
Nadine in Australia emailed us to say that the night-light on the left hand side is not working and hoped that we would get it fixed as our night time is her daytime, and is the only period when she can watch for the peregrines. The problem is partly due to the fact that this camera has sagged slightly over the last few months. It now points down and "sees" more of the floodlighting on the cathedral tower, and is fooled into thinking that it's still daytime, so it turns off the infra-red illumination. When we next abseil down we'll try and make all the necessary adjustments, but in the meantime we've remotely fiddled with the camera iris, and it seems to have done the trick. The night-time IR illuminator now works more often than not.
Why does the camera picture freeze up ocassionally? This is usually a problem with the video server inside Derby Cathedral, or our link to Streamdays. Once we're aware of a problem we can normally re-boot our equipment remotely, but sometimes we have to climb the spiral staircase and start the equipment manually. A break in signal in mid-November was caused by the accidental disconection of the pwoer supply to some receiving equipment inside The Silk Mill Museum, through which our signals pass. Thanks to the guys from Capita IT Services for remedying that one.
Friday, 2 November 2007
I'm afraid we've been hit recently with a huge number of automated comments left on archived posts. These posting themselves look innocuous, but there is a risk that anyone clicking on the hyperlink of the persons name will be taken to inappropriate or virus-laden websites. We do our best to remove these postings when they appear. Please don't click on any links you may find.
Sunday, 28 October 2007
Thursday, 25 October 2007
Saturday, 20 October 2007
Although we know our Peregrines will feature on BBC TV next Wednesday evening in "The Nature of Britain", viewers will only see this if they receive their regional broadcast from the East Midlands transmitter. However, we have since learnt that the associated programme that follows on immediately afterward on BBC Four at 10pm on 24th October will include stories of urban wildlife from around the UK, including Derby's peregrine falcons. Its called "The Nature of Britain - a User's Guide", and is presented by Chris Packham. You can find out more about some of the places in Derbyshire that are featured in this new TV series by following this link on the BBC Derby website.
The BBC came to collect back their video recorder last week, and what service it has given us during our first season online! Whilst the live cameras gave us an up-to-date idea of what is happening at the nest at any moment, our recorder with built-in hard drive was recording all the action for us to review and burn to disk. By the end of the season we had over 130 precious moments captured forever, some of which you can see by following these links to video clips.
A review of the last four days of recording in October clearly shows our adult female returning to the nest platform every morning, just as dawn breaks. I would guess that this is reinforcing her and her partner's claim to this particular ledge. On October 9th we captured out last video clip. It showed the female picking up small stones and actively nest-scraping for a few moments, not so much in preparation for next season, but perhaps a simple expression of her innate nest-building programming. But it's a good sign for next season. We plan to purchase our own video recorder for next season.
Behind the scenes we are working on developing an hourly image archive for the webcams. Once operational, this should let users to look back on on past moments, and should be a great tool for school groups who might want to select images for study. More on this later.
Into The Light
Many of us will have seen the excellent photos, like the one above, taken by Jon Salloway. Now, one of Jon's best pictures of a peregrine graces the front cover of a new book of poetry which has just been published in Derby. Called "Into The Light" this is a compilation of recent work by a Derby group of poetry-writers. Open the booklet, and inside is the superb poem by Ray Woodland about our peregrines which we've featured here before. One of the group members, Fay Saxton, has asked me to tell you that the group, known as "pm Poets", meets regularly at Derby Central Library and always welcomes new members. The compilation is now available for £2.00 plus 50p. p & p. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your copy."
The video stream froze at 13:51 on Oct 20th - we'll get this fixed as soon as we're able.
Monday, 1 October 2007
Here are all the YouTube videos from the 2007 season that we've posted on our blog during the year:
- Erecting the nest platform in 2006 filmed: April 2006
- Clip 1 First camera pictures Part 1 of 2 filmed: 21 Feb 2007
- Clip 2 First camera pictures Part 2 of 2 filmed: 21 Feb 2007
- Clip 3 A Bit of a Scrape filmed: 8 March 2007
- Clip 4 No Food For Junior filmed: 19th March 2007
- Clip 5 A Tasty Morsel filmed: 22nd March 2007
- Clip 6 The First Egg filmed: 3 April 2007
- Clip 7 The one day old chicks are fed filmed: 11 May 2007
- Clip 8 Rat on the Menu! filmed: 3 June 2007
- Clip 9 Let's Poo on Mum! filmed: 5 June 2007
- Clip 10 Peregrine Watch Point Activity filmed: 10 June 2007
- Clip 11 First Juvenile Fledges filmed: 23 June 2007
- Clip 12 Fledge from the Ledge filmed: 25 June 2007
- Clip 13 Sniper filmed: 15 July 2007
- Clip 14 Death Wish Pigeon filmed 1 Sep 2007
To play the video, find the image in each diary entry containing the triangular "play" icon. Click this to play video.
Follow this link for technical information on the webcameras and platform at Derby Cathedral.
Sunday, 30 September 2007
During the two days of strong easterly winds, the birds had moved to the west face of the tower to get some shelter. I could tell this because there was obvious prey remains both on the gargoyle above the main (west) entrance to the cathedral and on the stone flags below. Lots of feathers, even some way from the base of the tower, indicated the prey to have been a golden plover.
Saturday, 15 September 2007
Saturday, 8 September 2007
I was monitoring the live video feed in my office, and was surprised to suddenly hear "ee-chupp, ee-chupp" noises over the loudspeaker. Looking round to check my laptop, I saw both the male and female on the same part of the platform (where they laid their eggs earlier this summer), and there was our adult male, standing absolutely still, head bowed, with the female ee-chupping away at him. This was a familiar sight and sound during their courtship phase in March (which you can watch again here), but it was a surprise to hear it again. I presume, therefore, that this ee-chupp sound together with head-bowing activity is more of a greeting and show of "respect" by the male to the female than purely a courtship display, which I had not unreasonably assumed. Typically, the DVD recorder was connected to the other camera at the time, so we can't bring you any footage of this interesting moment - and I was not able to catch any still frames from the computer in time, as they soon ceased. But interesting for all that.
On a different not, let's hope today's abseil event at Derby Cathedral is going well. Hopefully, there should be some good pictures to bring you later this weekend.
Thursday, 6 September 2007
Although the adult peregrines are still using the nest ledge as a roost spot, there has been little sign of our two young birds recently. They were last reported a couple of weeks ago, but we have no cause to be concerned for their welfare; they may simply have moved off to find new hunting grounds of their own.
Our cameras and recording equipment inside the cathedral tower are still functioning, despite a recent break in the webcam service. This was caused by engineers cutting the electricity supply for routine maintenance in Derby Cathedral, but this was easily fixed after a climb up the spiral stone staircase inside the tower.
On checking the video recordings, we found this clip which shows a pigeon taking what may seem like a risky walk around our peregrine's nest ledge. Ironically, the bird was probably at less risk here than high in the skies above Derby. Peregrines would be unlikely to attempt to catch a bird so close to a cliff or building - they could easily injure themselves.
Meanwhile, if you want a distraction you could look at the southwards migration of an osprey which was satellite tagged in N Scotland in July and is now on its long journey to West Africa, although currently stopping off in South West Scotland. The link is http://www.roydennis.org/osprey_migration2007.htm
Tuesday, 4 September 2007
See you there!!!
This photo is taken from a Dutch website which is very useful for identifying feathers of all sorts of birds, as is the book called Tracks and Signs of the Birds of Britain and Europe by Brown, Ferguson, Lawrence and Lees (a Helm Identification Guide).
P. s. A short piece about the ringed Swedish tern appears in Birdwatch magazine this month.
Wednesday, 29 August 2007
When I was a very novice bird watcher back in the 1960s, when DDT and dieldrin were doing their best to wipe them out completely, there were no peregrines in England at all. To locate one, you had to travel to somewhere like the west coast of Ireland or NW Scotland. I saw my first peregrine on Cape Clear, a remote island off the SW tip of Eire, way back in 1962. (That tells you just how long in the tooth I am!)
Sunday, 19 August 2007
May we repeat an alert made in the last entry to the effect that this blog has suddenly started suffering attacks of automated spamming. Fairly inoccuous looking comments are starting to be left to numerous archived entries. These contain hyperlinks to inappropriate websites. We will review the situation and hope that Blogger itself may be able to prevent this. It may not last but, should it get too bad, we may be forced to reinstate comment moderation, which would be a shame. We hope you will understand.
Wednesday, 15 August 2007
DWT now has 46 nature reserves, 30+ paid staff, 12,000 members and one education centre.
With an annual turnover of about £1.5 million, the trust has to be run as a small (not for profit) company. We are independent of government and get most of our external funding from the lottery, landfill tax, charitable trusts, donations and the occasional legacy......but it is an uphill struggle each year to make ends meet, as you might imagine.
Three front-line teams (conservation, education and reserves) are backed up by admin. and marketing teams. The peregrine work falls within the education ('people and wildlife') team's work though most of our time is devoted to working with children, mainly in schools and at our centre but also informally in holiday time.
To read more about the Trust (including how to join - and before the subs go up!) go to http://www.derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk/
Ps. For those of you who live abroad, Derbyshire is situated right in the middle of the UK, about as far away from the sea as you can get! The north of the county falls within the Peak District National Park and includes high moorland and limestone dales which are rich in wildflowers. Further south, the county is a mixture of attractive, undulating farmland, somewhat less attractive open-cast (and previously) deep coal mining areas and towns and one major city (Derby). Just south of Derby, the valley of the River Trent runs across the county, with associated gravel workings and reservoirs, were the peregrines hunt for waders and duck.
Further post-script: Today saw our first concerted attack by spammers on this blog, with inappropriate advertising left in the comment on some of our archived posts. We'll leave it a while to see how it goes, or if Blogger can resolve it, but it may be necessary to reinstate comment moderation should it get bad. Sorry. (May we warn you NOT TO CLICK on the names of any suspicious-looking names, as this could take you to inappropriate or malicious websites.)
Monday, 13 August 2007
If it was the latter, then there were reports of this species at Carsington Water (a reservoir some 10 miles NW of Derby) on three July dates and further north in the county also.....the biggest group was nine but it shows that this species was about at water bodies locally in the last couple of months. Equally possible is that the godwit was taken as it over-flew the city at night during this period .....reports of the peregrines' nocturnal activity suggest they are already into night hunting!
A primary wing feather was among the debris Tony and I collected on the roof on 31st July....along with the arctic tern and whimbrel remains. And Ed Drewitt has just ID'ed another feather I had sent him as that of a knot, another species of wading bird!
BTW, the Swedish arctic tern story gets an article on Birdguide's Webzine and will be a news item in next month's Birdwatch magazine.
Ps In the winter I found a bar tailed godwit corpse at the cathedral....so now we have both of the European godwits on the prey list. What next?
Pps The excellent photo of a black tailed godwit is by Nick Franklin to whom many thanks.
Sunday, 12 August 2007
"Derby Museums and Art Gallery is a service consisting of three separate museums, all situated very close to the city centre. And all are free.
The Museum and Art Gallery contains fine collections and fascinating displays covering archaeology, porcelain, geology, wildlife and military history (the latter is currently being redisplayed). It is also home to the world-renowned Joseph Wright of Derby collection of paintings, including The Orrery. As with all of our museums, there is a lively programme of special exhibitions and activities.
The Silk Mill, Derby’s Museum of Industry and History, stands on the site of the world’s first factory – the silk mill of John and Thomas Lombe, now part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. We have displays on Derbyshire’s industries and working life, including railway engineering, power for industry and, of course, our famous Rolls-Royce aero-engines. Right now we are working on plans and seeking ideas on how we should develop this museum over the next few years.
Pickford’s House is a museum of Georgian Life and Historic Costume. It is an elegant Georgian townhouse built in 1770, and designed by the prominent local architect Joseph Pickford as both a family home and business premises. You can see historic furnished rooms, changing displays of costume, and a permanent display of toy theatres.
We've all been thrilled to be a partner in the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project. Our service is all about making links between people and their heritage, culture and environment. So what could be more suited to this ambition than a webcam, allowing people all over the world to see how Derby encourages wildlife and supports public understanding? Interest has been huge, and our staff have worked very hard to help set up the webcam and support this blog. We've enjoyed meeting all the visitors who came to our museums as a result of their interest in the falcons, and the discussions on the blog have been fascinating. It’s been a pleasure to have launched the project with our partners the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and Derby Cathedral, but I must also record our thanks to our colleagues in Derby City Council’s Corporate IT department and to Capita for ensuring the cameras were configured and presented so effectively on our website. It’s been a tremendously exciting experience for us all.
We hope the peregrine project will entice some of you to visit us. You can find our addresses and directions on the left hand menu of our Museums' web-pages.
Anneke Bambery, Head of Museums"
Thursday, 9 August 2007
Well, the answer was that a specialist company had been called in to inspect and remove any loose stonework from the four faces of the mediaeval tower. And it must have been one of their operatives. Sorry we didn't warn you.
The Cathedral authorities had agreed to delay the operation whilst the peregrine falcons were nesting, but needed to get the work done well in advance of the sponsored public abseil from the top of the tower next month. Is anyone here going to take part, I wonder? Had we remembered that they were scheduled to drop in, we might have got the men to clean off the spiders' webs from the lens of our main camera, and do a bit of tidying up, too. They will be back again tomorrow, but are probably unlikely to re-appear in view.
Post-script: Our webcams may go offline during Tuesday 14th August whilst work is carried out on the laser-link that carries our webcam data from The Silk Mill to The Assembly Rooms, and thence the big wide world. Apologies for any disruption.
By the way, a nice article appeared in the Derby Evening Telegraph today about the peregrine webcams.
Tuesday, 7 August 2007
The oldest arctic tern we have is a bird of 29 years and 10 months, though there are Danish and German birds both of 30 years 10 months old and yes, that American bird has reached 34 years of age!"
Friday, 3 August 2007
It was ringed as a chick on 10th June 2002 on an island off the SW of Sweden (Skane province). So by my calculation, it will have made ten migration trips between Sweden and its Antarctic wintering grounds during the intervening five years, just failing to reach its nesting grounds on its fifth northwards migration of course. That's one heck of a lot of miles! (Arctics have probably the longest migration of any bird travelling right down to the Antarctic Ocean.....anyone like to work out about how many miles that might be?)
Hopefully it had raised enough young of its own during that time such that at least one is surviving and replacing the lost bird, thus keeping the population stable.
Ps. Without checking, I seem to recall that the oldest arctic tern aged by its ring was about 30 years old, so that is an even more astonishing mileage. Remarkable birds indeed!
Pps. I should perhaps have pointed out that the red colouration showing on the photo of the tern's leg and foot is not blood. The legs and beak of arctic terns are blood red in colour and this is the remains of that pigmentation.
Wednesday, 1 August 2007
Monday, 30 July 2007
Sunday, 29 July 2007
Thursday, 26 July 2007
My second photo shows the view to the North, with the (much lower) catholic church tower visible in the middle distance. For some reason we have never seen peregrines on that tower even though it is certainly taller than the Silk Mill tower, or the nearby flats which they have perched on recently.
Next, a photo looking vertically down on the South side, with the male peregrine standing on the top of one of the stone beast's behinds! This picture was taken by the cathedral architect early in 2005. He was inspecting the roof when he looked over and saw this bird which he felt sure wasn't a pigeon! It is the first photo ever taken of our cathedral peregrines. You can see a passerby on the pavement (sidewalk) 200 feet (70 metres) below!
Incidentally, these head-down beasts, which we have been calling gargoyles are, I am recently informed, actually 'grotesques'.
Gargoyles, usually just the heads of some
mythical human or beast, always have
drainage pipes running through them
with the water flowing out through their mouths.
The Derby mythical beasts, carved by the
mediaeval stone masons back in the 16th century, are purely decorative, the lead roof drainage channels being sited to either side of them.
This photo is by John Salloway and shows the male dozing in the sun. Your guess what the animal is!
Wednesday, 25 July 2007
So that you can see the Cathedral's interior, local photographer Andy Savage has provided us with a link to one of his 360 degree images taken inside Derby Cathedral. You can click and drag your mouse across the image to make it scroll around inside, or hit Shift or Control to zoom in and out. There's an alternate version available here for anyone have difficulties viewing it. For an exterior shots, see this blog entry for July 5th
Sunday, 22 July 2007
I’ve taken the liberty of adding this picture to the end of the Nick B’s latest entry, rather than pushing it out of the way with a completely new entry. Nick M.
Saturday, 21 July 2007
And the lack of insects due to prolonged periods of rain, threatens the survival of the young of small, insectivorous birds such as warblers and flycatchers.
In our own garden and to our great delight, a pair of spotted flycatchers recently adopted a purpose-built nest box on the house right outside the kitchen window. Judging by the late laying date, this pair must have nested elsewhere in May/June and now be trying again, perhaps having failed first time round.
My photos show the nest box tucked under the gutter....a tad smaller and easier to construct than the peregrine platform - and somewhat easier to put up as well....plus one of an adult spotted flycatcher (photographer unknown). The lowest photo, taken through the window, shows an adult peering out of the box while brooding its chick.
The two eggs hatched some ten days ago but the availability of flying insects since has been severely restricted by days of rain and cool temperatures and we fear for the one surviving chick which is still quite un-feathered even now.
Spotted flycatchers spend the winter in Sub-Saharan Africa. Their numbers in the UK have fallen drastically in the last decade, possibly due to less favourable conditions in their wintering quarters.
So, for that reason alone, we are particularly keen that this pair rear their single chick. However, today's poor wet weather following on from yesterday's doesn't bode well I'm afraid. Our fingers are firmly crossed.......
Incidentally, spotted flycatchers have a charisma all their own, obviously quite different from that of falcons. Dull brown in plumage and with a monosyllabic 'song', what they lack in these respects they more than make up for by their graceful flycatching behaviour and their very confiding habits. Succeed or fail, they'll soon be gone and I for one will sorely miss them, just as we all miss seeing our young peregrines.....