Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project - Overview

Derby lies in the centre of England, and the ancient tower of its cathedral dates back over 450 years. Records suggest that peregrine falcons have roosted and hunted from the tower at many times over the centuries. But then in the mid 20th century their numbers crashed suddenly, and they were virtually wiped out from many Adult peregrine in the skies over Derby. photo J Salloway.parts of Britain. A pesticide called DDT was found to be at fault, causing thinning of their egg-shells which then cracked during incubation. Only after DDT was banned, and peregrines given legal protection, did their numbers slowly start to recover. They began to return to their former haunts. In 2006 a pair started to show signs of wanting to breed on Derby Cathedral. A small wooden ledge was installed to help them, and three young birds were successfully raised. The following year (2007) we put up two webcameras and began this blog; the interest created surprised everyone. Two chicks that hatched out were watched live by many thousands around the world until the moment of fledging in June 2007.

And now, in 2008, it's all begining again. . .

What's happening now?
If all goes well the next breeding season should start around Feb/March 2008. Each day they often return to their nest ledge, just after dawn - so a visit between 7am-9am local time may reveal one of the parents. Notice that the nest scrape on the left hand side is already being well-maintained in readiness for next season. If you're lucky you may see the birds courtship and nest-scraping activities.

If you visit Derby in person, do look up at the gargoyles and highest ledges of the Cathedral tower where they roost, feed, or just remain on lookout to repel any intruding peregrines. They are often here for hours at a time. They do occasionally visit the nest platform to store prey, feed or just perch, and will then be visible on the web cams ….so it's always worth a look.

Last summer was the second breeding season on our specially constructed nest ledge. In October 2007 one of our colour-ringed juveniles was seen hunting over Attenborough Nature Reserve in Nottingham.

Webcam Services
Our webcameras first went live in April 2007. (our thanks to Streamdays for their excellent hosting service) During 2007 we had 238,735 unique "hits". Follow these links to Webcam 1 and Webcam 2

Follow this link for an Overview of the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project. Our plans for the 2008 season include a third camera and a webcam image archive, giving the ability to store one image every hour, 365 days a year. Meanwhile, if you see anything of interest from the ground (or find any prey items) you can contact the project team. Click the "About Us" Tab or contact Derbyshire Wildlife Trust 01773 881188 (DWT in office hours) or email enquiries@derbyshirewt.co.uk

Follow this link to see stunning video highlights from 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.

You can also look back or search any past archived messages, either by clicking on the relevant month on the "Diary Archive" on the left side of this blog, or use the search facility to look for keywords at the top left corner of this page.
Peregrines on TV
Viewers in the East Midlands of Britain saw film of Derby Cathedral's Peregrines as part of a major new BBC TV series on "The Nature of Britain", presented by Alan Titchmarsh. This episode featured a number of sites in Derby as part of an "Urban Britain" programme. Follow this link to watch the full 10 minute clip. You can also see it being shown in the wildlife galleries at Derby Museum & Art Gallery.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Regarding the heat possibly affecting the chicks;the Chichester site nest box has a cover? any value to put one on ours?

Dennis,local lad