Friday, 20 February 2009

Get a grip!

Nick evans fits a grip strip to the front of the peregrine nest platform What a way to spend a day's holiday.

Four Nicks (Brown, Dixon, Evans & Moyes) gathered together at Derby Cathedral yesterday to check out the peregrine nest platform and perform essential maintenance tasks. Nick Dixon - one of Britain's leading experts on peregrines on artificial structures and urban areas - was making a visit to look at our setup here at Derby, England, and it was a pleasure to meet him in person and to gain from his experience and scientific knowledge. In fact it was to Nick D. that we turned back in late 2005 for specialist advice when peregrines first arrived and appeared to be trying to set up home here.
View of Derby Cathedral tower from the nave roof. Click to enlarge

On the agenda was an abseil down the tower to check the condition of the platform which we confirmed was still in an almost pristine state. The cameras needed to be cleaned and adjusted, but our main task was to add a "grip strip" to the front ledge of the platform for this year's young birds to get a hold of when exercising their wings prior to fledging.

Three out of four juveniles came down on their maiden flight last year and had to be rescued. A local bird of prey breeder suggested they were probably not getting enough grip on the vertical edge of the platform, especially when it was crowded with youngsters. We had looked at the feet of young peregrine specimens in our Museums' natural history collections and calculated they would best grip onto a rail about 2.5 - 3cm diameter. So Nick E. (who originally constructed the platform back in 2006) kindly abseiled down to make the modifications. The photo of the tower taken from the nave roof gives you a good idea of the position of the platform and our abseil. We felt it best to turn off the internet feed for much of the day as prolonged close-up views of our heads, shoes or elbows is hardly edifying. The short clip below may give a better idea of position we were working in as we glued and nailed the "grip strip" into place. The diagonal rope was needed to hold us close to the platform because the louvred tower window is inset by nearly a metre. This makes working from an abseil rope very precarious without it. Thanks to Nick B. who supported us behind the scenes, moving gravel, buying forgotten items and making a generally excellent gopher.

Less than 24 hours later we had clear evidence that our peregrines were unaffected by all this activity so close to the start of their courtship, as both birds were seen on the platform, including the female who was busy scraping a nest hollow, as we see here.


Anonymous said...

Hello from Dayton Ohio! It's nice to see the Derby nest getting spruced up this year. All the cams are especially fun to watch, especially the "pudding" cam. Very cool!
You may remember our male, "Mercury", who raised 3 young alone after the loss of his mate 2 seasons ago...sadly, we lost him last season but 2 new falcons popped up immediately. They chose a new nest, raised 2 males tho we lost one in the early days of fledging. We still have two adult peregrines and now a family of bald eagles has taken a nesting spot in an urban park about 6 miles up river from the falcon nest...should be exciting to watch, presuming all the territory issues can be settled soon.
Spring can't be too far away (it will only seem like that) when all the falcons are getting ready to nest, yay!
Hope everyone is doing well, it's always a pleasure to read and watch this website.

Nick Brown said...

Nice to see one peregrine back up top this morning after yesterday's work. These are disturbance-proof birds and the work yesterday will not stop their progress towarsd egg laying.
Nick Dixon gave Nick M and me a great deal of advice and encouragement back in 2006 when the project was starting and it was great to meet him for the first time and spend time gleaning further advice.
Nick M master-minded the refurbishment work so a big thanks to him.
Nick B (DWT)

LYNNE said...

2 PEREGRINES! One on each side of the nesting box!


John B (not the sloop) said...

Yahoo! Here we are back again for another season...

Someone is looking nicely settled in the spruced-up nest tray I see.

Ash said...

Whilst the modifications were taking place, was there any evidence of the falcons trying to deter the invaders?

Froona said...

Hope everybody is doing fine!
We did catch you yesterday working at the renovations of the nestbox!

Today the images are a lot clearer thanks to the cleaning of the lenses. All set for a wonderful new season! Looking forward to it.

Our own project in De Mortel will be live 24/7 for the next 5 months. So very very proud of this! But I will be watching Derby of course, and a lot of other cams as well ( I hope ....
How did both peregrines react on you renovating their nursery by the way??


Karen Anne said...


I am sorry to hear that Mercury has been lost, what a great Dad he was. What happened to him?

Derby guys,

Actually, I think it would be fun to watch the nest box work, even if it is odd glimpses of heads and feet :-) I'll bet your faithful audience would be glued to their screens.

Karen Anne said...

p.s. I can see that there is some video, apparently in the blog, but when I click on it, it disappears?

Karen Anne said...

Ah, I can see the video with Internet Explorer. It must be something about my version of Firefox that is the problem.

Nick Brown said...

Hi Froona: While the two Nick's were down at the nest platform, there were no peregrines at the tower or around it. However there was one spotted by Nick Dixon on the tall police aerial in Chester Green, some half a mile to the NE.
Nick B (DWT)
Ps Nice to hear from you Jan in Daytona. Sorry about Mercury....his genes live on of course!

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

Thanks everyone for your comments about the refurbishment, and for reporting sightings soon afterwards.
I can confirm that the female was on the platform when we arrived at the Cathedral in the morning, but had left by the time we got up on the tower roof and were ready to abseil. Because we hadn't frightened them off, there was no alarm call, and no harrying from the birds as far as I could tell. Though once back inside the we did hear an adult call via our speaker in the tower.

It would be a completely different matter had they been incubating eggs, or had chicks. When the ringers go down, all hell seems to break loose over the skies of Derby City, but within an hour they've settled back down to normal routine as usual.

Karen Anne - I also have problems viewing some images in Firefox, but not in Internet Explorer 8. I'll check Blogger Help and see if there's something more I can find out about. It's as if certain images and clips are blocked, but not others, but this also happens at work where I have a heavily filtered corporate system using IE6.

Jan - thank you for the update on Dayton's birds.

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

Using Firefox

If videos don't display in Firefox you probably need to update your browser. I've just removed my old version 1 copy (which just showed a blank square where the video was placed) and installed version 3.0.6

You will also have to allow Firefox to install a "plug-in" for Flash player. Once downloaded and installed, you should be able to view any video we post.

Hope this helps
Nick M.

Anonymous said...

Pax Canada 6.50pm
falcon on the pudding cam, haning a snack I think

Anonymous said...

Pax Canada 12.33am
falcon on the gravel

LYNNE said...

2 Peragrines present. 1 on Pudding Cam and 1 on Nest Platform.


Anonymous said...

Pax Canada 11.50pm
falcon on the scrape and one on the pudding cam

LYNNE said...

Peregrine on Right Hand Side of Nest Box


Karen Anne said...

Peregrine at the pudding cam.

Thanks, Nick M. I do have Flash installed, but I am running an old Firefox, 2.

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

That's your answer - Karen Anne.
I hardly ever use Firefox, but it didn't take me long to deinstall it and go to the firefox website and install an updated version.
I didn't have any "bookmarks" in my version of FF, so you might just like to see if you can save yours somewehere before you deinstall it. Actually I'd guess that FF version 3 will simply upgrade over your existing set-up, without losing any bookmarks, but better safe than sorry.
Nick M.

LYNNE said...

Peregrine on Right Hand Side of Nest Box Ledge.