Tuesday, 3 February 2009

But February made me shiver . . .

It's been one of the coldest winters in Britain for many years, and the snow fell in earnest across most of England yesterday. It seemed the whole country ground to a halt for a few hours. (We're simply not used to temperatures as low as minus three Celsius, or snow as deep as ten centimetres!)

video

Up on the tower of Derby Cathedral our peregrine falcons' nest platform soon filled up, and the lens of our tower top camera was also buried in the white stuff. (If you've ever wondered why it's been dubbed "pudding cam" click here) But as is the way nowadays in lowland Britain, we rarely have to wait long before the snow and ice began to melt away. To peregrines, which are birds of mountains and cliffs, the cold and snow is hardly an inconvenience, and certainly something they can cope with well.

Dawn broke clear and beautiful this morning. And just as they now do on most mornings, one of our adult peregrines soon arrived on the nest platform at sunrise to reinforce its claim to this site. (07:30 local time) The misleading rufous red colouration you see on its lowermost feathers is due to the rays of the sun striking the east-facing side of Derby cathedral's tower. Click the play button to view the video above.

Nipping up the tower this lunchtime to check our video recording equipment, I was surprised to be greeted to a grey blur in the feed from "pudding cam", high up on the top. It made me wonder whether the bird was getting some benefit from the tiny amount of heat that this camera must generate - or perhaps it was simply trying to say "hi" to all our ardent webcam viewers out there. Perhaps some of you saw it peering out of your computer screens.

Update: Thanks to regular blog visitor, Lynne, who left a comment to say she'd seen some unusual activity on February 4th. We duly checked our video recording equipment for the date and time she'd said and retrieved the clip below of an adult peregrine pulling this prey item out from the snow on the nest platform, with its mate on the ledge below.

video


Nick Moyes
Derby Museums & Art Gallery

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24 comments:

Karen Anne said...

Is that minus three Celsius or Fahrenheit?

If it's Celsius, for us U.S. folks, I think that's uh 32 degrees minus 1.8*3 = 32-5.4 = 26 or so Fahrenheit. And 4 inches of snow :-)

I had no idea it hardly snowed in the UK. You folks seem further north than we are in New England, there must be warm ocean currents or something mucking things up.

Super nice video, thanks.

(I am trying not to mention that last winter parts of Northern New England got between 100-180 inches of snow total. We were only at about 40 inches total where I live.)

Anonymous said...

pax Canada 12.28am
one falcon on nest ledge, one on the pudding cam, something is wacky with the weather, here in Vancouver we rarely get huge dumps of snow but Dec. Jan has been the exception worst snowfall since 1968

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

Only minus 3 Centigrade, Karen Anne.
We get the warm Gulf Stream flowing NE through the Atlantic towards us, keeping us mild and damp for much of the time. Southern England generally has far less harsh winters than Northern England and Scotland, but it seems to me that we still get it easy compared to other countries at similar latitudes to ourselves. So when we do get cold spells we aren't as well prepared as those who experience it every year, as you obviously do.

LYNNE said...

Peregrine on Nest Camera...with a dead bird! Eating it with gusto! Amazing!

Second Peregrin Visable also just belwo the ledge!

11.58am

LYNNE said...

I don't know if its possible to check back to see just what the Peregrine brought back to the nest...but it was absolutely amazing!

Anonymous said...

Birdie on snowy platform at 0840. Jennie of HK.

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

Thanky you, Jennie and Lynne, for your feedback on separate sightings you had witnessed over the webcam. I found them both on our HDD recorder and have put up the one Lynne was watching for everyone else to see.
Nick M.

Anonymous said...

pax Canada 8.56am
falcon on nest ledge

LYNNE said...

Pergrine on Nest Platform..trying to scrape away the Snow.

9.49am

Ash said...

It must be approaching the time when our derring-do climbers start about thinking of clearing the platform in readiness for the new season ( says an old man tucked up warmly at home). Having been convinced by Nick the other day that I really do NEED a telescope to appreciate our birds, I have been shopping in preparation for some wonderful sights ahead

Anonymous said...

This morning's coffee was disturbed by extended calls from a peregrine flying around the tower, screaming and diving down towards the tower roof. It was marvellous to watch, but I couldn’t see any obvious cause for such alarm.

A short while later, however, I had a quick look round the cathedral and although couldn’t see the peregrines on any of their usual perches I did see a possible explanation in the form of two large black birds (ravens, perhaps?) sitting on top of the tower, next to the north-west pinnacle. As I watched they flew down to a rooftop off to the west. Looks like Mr and Mrs P will have to work hard at protecting their nest site again this year.

Roger.

Karen Anne said...

Peregrine on the pudding cam ledge.

Anonymous said...

pax 9.07am
falcon on the scrape and one on the pudding cam

LYNNE said...

Peregrine on Nest Scrape Platform

10.37

LYNNE said...

Peregrine on Nest Scrape Platform

9.26

LYNNE said...

Peregrine on Nest Scrape Platform.

10.04am

Karen Anne said...

peregrine snoozing on the edge of the nestbox.

Nick Brown (DWT) said...

Roger: re. your observation of large black birds on 8th; most likely to have been a pair of ravens since a similar event happened last spring. The ravens even started to try to nest build on the tower but fortunately gave up after placing only a very few sticks on the south side of the tower.
Nick B (DWT)

Anonymous said...

Pax 12.24am
falcon on the scrape and one on the pudding cam

Karen Anne said...

Peregrine on the nestbox edge and one in the pudding cam area.

Debbie said...

I have just been watching one of the Peregrine's (possible the female as counld not see the white beauty spot) scraping in the nest at 11.55am. Started on the right side and then moved over to the left. Now preening on the edge of the box.

Anonymous said...

pax 9.24am Canada
falcon on the pudding cam and one
on the nest

bob said...

I think 1 of the birds is sitting on the pudding cam.
Cheers Bob Willis

2300hrs, 17/2/09

Debbie said...

At 12.20 both Peregrine's were at the nest box. The male to the left and the female to the right side of the box (size difference very obvious when they are together). They spent 8 minutes head bowing and then the male left. The female then went to the left side of the box and started scraping.