Saturday, 11 April 2009

Peregrine writer and artists

Image of female peregrine Tuesday 14 April 10:30amPLEASE NOTE: Tuesday night update: Our web cams pages are still down, but our IT Support company is dealing with the issue. Thanks to "Pax Canada" for reminding us that you can always check the webpages oif our hosting company, Streamdays, to see the images, though only refreshed at infrequent intervals.
Webcam feed1
Webcam feed2

Here's a picture taken on Tuesday morning, showing Mum still on her eggs. (It was captured via a private link direct to our video server inside Derby Cathedral's tower)

(modified Monday 13th April)

Here in the UK, the peregrine 'bible' is undoubtedly the monograph entitled simply The Peregrine Falcon by Derek Ratcliffe, published in 1980 by T and AD Poyser. The paintings and line drawings are by Donald Watson, a very fine Scottish wildlife artist who, like Derek, sadly died a few years ago.

Derek was a leading ecologist in the UK and he tramped the scottish hills and other peregrine nesting habitats for many years gathering data about his favourite bird.

The book, which runs to over 300 pages, is packed with information about peregrines though it was written before they began to nest on artifical structures such as cathedrals and pylons in the UK. It explains how DDT and other pesticides thinned the egg shells of peregrines such that they smashed before hatching. This lead to the catastrophic decline in this species and many other 'top predators' in the 1950s and 60s.

The book is out of print in the UK (but reprinted by Princetown University in 1993 I am told (thanks to blog comments - and available via amazon or alibris). No doubt copies can also be borrowed from libraries.

Ratcliffe's book is a scientific one though very well written and accessible to the amateur. Perhaps one of the finest pieces of natural history writing is The Peregrine by J A Baker, first published in 1967 and then again by Penguin Books in 1976 and reprinted in 1984. The author uses lyrical prose to relate the lives of peregrines wintering in Essex.

The linocut to the left is by UK artist Robert Gillmor, taken from his excellent book called Cutting Away, published a couple of years ago.

Possibly the best know UK artist who painted peregrines among many other birds was Charles Tunnicliffe, who lived on Anglesey of the North Wesh coast and studied the sea cliff nesting peregrines at South Stack.

This fine painting (right) is taken from the cover of The Peregrine Sketchbook by C F Tunnicliffe, published by Excellent Press in 1996.

Nick Brown (DWT)


Terri said...

Thank you Nick for keeping us entertained while the cameras are offline. Great job.
It's such a shame that Derek Ratcliffe's book is out of print - I was just about to put it on my Christmas list! Maybe we should start up some sort of petition to persuade the publishers to do a limited print run for us newly fledged peregrine fans...

Terri said...

Actually just picked up a new copy off Amazon fairly cheaply :)

Karen Anne said...

There are several copies of Derek Ratcliffe's book on alibris (search for Derek Ratcliffe rather than The Peregrine Falcon, as the latter turns up many other books.

It looks from their list like Princeton University Press republished it in 1993, but it doesn't say if that is an updated edition.

Karen Anne said...

I read further about the Princeton edition, yes, it is an updated version.

Colin said...

I am not to good with computers and doubt I will ever be. But have set up an independant blog and if I can a spare a bit of to keep it running. I will tried to keep it updated with captive bred Peregrines as well as their wild counter parts.

Anonymous said...

pax Canada
checked my local library, but no luck.
looking forward to tuesday and having the birds back.

Roger (Austria) said...

Colin - I tried to leave a comment under the photos of the wood pigeon exchange .. but failed. A text box opened and allowed me to do lots of typing - but then failed when I tried to send it. Do I need to sign up first? (I was using the Firefox browser with high security settings). Looking foreward very much to more of your superb work.

Colin said...

Sorry Roger not sure how it all works hopefully one of my sons will tell me how it works.

Karen Anne said...

pax, libraries can get pretty much any book on interlibrary loan.

Karen Anne said...

Roger, I managed to post a test comment on Colin's blog, and I am using Firefox. What was the failure symptom you saw? Did you maybe not type the word verification thing right?

Roger (AT) said...

Thanks to Colin and Karen Anne, I have succeeded in leaving a post on Colin's Blog. There were 2 tricks. a) I signed up to get a Google account first.
b) My Firefox security settings were stopping the word verification appearing. So I used IE for that job! (I use IE for this blog also - same reason).

@ Colin - you have created a rod for your own back! Let's see some photos! Their quality and beauty is outstanding and your admirers are waiting!

@ Karen Anne - many thanks for taking the trouble to make a test post.

Karen Anne said...

Hi, Roger,

What security settings do you have that make the verification words not appear? Cross fingers so far I have never had my pc infected with my presumably lower settings.

I don't like to use IE because it seems to have security holes you could drive a truck thru.

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

1) The 2nd edition of Ratcliffe's book contains much more up-to-date information. It can be bought on ebay for between £20-£30.

2) Froona: The following was posted by Ingrid, a moderator on the Schlechtvalken Forum website.

"Dear forum friends,

One week ago we received the news of Froona's death. We were shocked and filled with deep sadness.
The way this great sense of loss and the grief has been shared on all the forums, both here and all over the world, was beautiful and impressive.
Together we mourned, together we remembered, together we looked back in gratefulness and love on the time Froona shared our lives.
Her passion for the Peregrine Falcons and in particular Pa and S2, has made a lasting and deep impact on all of us.

Froona's spirit is free now, free from the bonds of a failing body, one with the infinite Universe.

There is no ending, no beginning
All is only changing

The sadness will linger on for a long time but gradually the joy for having known her will overcome.
In future we will often draw gratefully from her enormous knowledge about Peregrine Falcons, so wholeheartedly shared by her through her beautiful website.

And now it is time for us to move on, get back to our daily lives, get back to enjoying the webcams, where new life is emerging in abundance.
I have therefor replaced the picture on top of our forum.
The words say: "A new life begins"
With this I mean to close a week of sorrow, tears and mourning and point the way forward. It also fits the spirit of Easter. All will be renewed.

I want to wish you a good Easter weekend, with peace in your heart.

You can read the original here:

Anonymous said...

pax Canada
thought the site might be up and running

Anonymous said...

It's Tuesday morning, I have to go back to work and aaaaaaaarh! still no webcam. I can hardly bear the suspense. Hope to "see" you when I get home at teatime!! It was really nice to get the final update about Froona though (is REALLY only a week since Froona died - it feels like much longer) They were nice words. Still no peregrine in Aylesbury (OK, so we've had it now) but my brother told me he saw a harris hawk polishing off a pigeon (we have loads of those darn things). We assume it's from a professional company (not that the bird would know, of course!)

Nick Brown (DWT) said...

Sue: if a harris hawk is being used regularly to deter/catch pigeons, its presence might deter any peregrines from attempting to nest on the building....I've no evidence for that....just a hunch!
I do know that many peregrine nest boxes have been put up on buildings in the hope that peregrines would use them but with no success. Platforms or boxes need to be sited very close to where peregrines regularly perch for there to be any real hope of them taking up residence.
Nick B (DWT)

Ruth Z said...

Hey! We're getting pics again!

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

That's strange, Ruth. As far as can see the two public webcam pages are still down this afternoon, though I'm lucky enough to be able to see live pictures here in my office.
What address were you looking at, and is it still functioning?
Nick M.

Karen Anne said...

Thanks for posting Ingrid's thoughts about Froona. It is hard to believe it is only a week, and stranger still to realize that she was very sick for some time and yet managed to keep up with all that work for peregrines, often without any of what must have been her discomfort showing in her blog posts.

I hope very much that good homes are found for Froona's cats. There are posts about that on the other forums, but I am not sure who is doing what.

Anonymous said...

pax Canada 10.23am
Nick you can get access through streamdays, but dont think it is up to date.

Anonymous said...

Really glad to hear all is still well at the nest up there in derby - but am missing the webcam image very much. Any estimates as to when it may come back?
Thanks Nick Brown for responding about my harris hawk issue - I have your email address and will reply more fully to you that way.

Ruth Z said...

Nick, I'm using the link at the top left of this page - "web camera, nest platform view", and I have a perfect shot of the female on the nest. The date/time stamp is updating and the falcon is moving, so I guess it's pretty much real-time.

Roger (AT) said...

Look on the bright side ... It is much better that the server change comes now, and not at the end of the month. If the interuption happened during hatching I can imagine The Sun headline: "IT Server Techie found tarred and feathered in Derby". I hope they fix the issues soon - peregrines are addictive!

Kishore said...

I can see the birds - click on Webcam 1 or Webcam 2 on this page. The refresh rate is infrequent tho - but its a start.

Colin said...

I tend to look and check the web cam. It helps me no end. When it comes to getting photo's is the tiercel on watch, have they eaten.
If anything exciting is happening I can be there in minutes.

Anonymous said...

Everything seems to be in business (thank goodness) - have had tremendous withdrawal symptoms since the web-site has been down.

Anonymous said...

For those who like Tunnicliffe artwork the gallery at Anglesey has a permanent display of his work