Saturday, 17 October 2009

Various updates

A couple of days ago, a birdwatcher reported seeing three peregrines on the top of the police HQ aerial, barely half a mile from the cathedral. The adults are on and off the tower as usual at this time of the year, just keeping an eye on things as it were.
We continue to monitor the prey species being taken. Corncrakes have appeared in the diet recently. These birds, while scarce in the UK, are not quite so uncommon in Eastern Europe where old-style farming is still practiced - eg in countries such as Poland and Estonia. These are migrants and when there's anticyclonic weather, the easterly winds blow them and many other eastern birds to our shores.

Corncrakes, like water rails, little grebes, quail and various waders such as woodcock are all night migrants and so are rarely if ever seen by birdwatchers as they migrate. By day, they hide away in fields, marshes or woods, keeping a very low profile.

Ed Drewitt tells me that peregrines in Warsaw take many corncrakes in the autumn, which is not perhaps surprising, given this predator's habit of nocturnal feeding.
Other species taken recently in Derby have included the usual golden plover and teal, both of which winter near Derby - plus at least one skylark. The plover may be in flocks several hundred strong, the teal - a small duck - winter in smaller numbers at most reservoirs, lakes and gravel pits in the nearby valley of the river
We have recently made contact with someone who works for Coors Brewery in Burton on Trent and who keeps an eye on the peregrines that nest high on the company's tower which dominates the town's skyline. We hope to learn more about these neighbouring birds.

Meanwhile, here are two further photos of Cathy (010) taken when Nick Moyes and I went to see her and Colin a few weeks ago. We watched her come to Colin's fist, flying quite strongly across the ground. The injured wing though is clearly not producing the full thrust that she would need to fly properly.

Nick B (DWT)

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Gio said...

Thank you for the info and photos of Cathy, Nick.
Never tired while watching at her. :)

Would be thrilled to learn more about the peregrines nesting on the company's tower in Burton on Trent.
I spend at least a week every Summer there (at Needwoodside) and just heard a pair probably was nesting somewhere in the city.
Thank you, that's a special good news to me! :))

Anonymous said...

How do you identify the pray remains that you find, and how do you find them in the first place, eg the corncrake you mentioned do you have people that collect things for you. Is there any news on the leg and ring that was found that nick moyes mentioned, is this a new prey item. Is the corncrake a new prey item. Thanks Martin Derby.

Ann ( Canada ) said...

Lovely pictures of Cathy, I really enjoyed seeing her. A great thrill for me. She is going to be just fine in such capable hands. I have noticed one of the young ones on the scrape a lot just lately. I believe it was the same youngster I saw perched up above the Falcon the day is first visited the Cathedral. Wish I could be there more often. Derby is looking great some nice improvements. Thanks for the latest info folks.

Nick Brown (DWT) said...

Martin: prey remains are collected on a roughly weekly basis from around the base of the's a strange occupation looking for them. If you were as old as me you'd probably remember down and outs going round the streets of cities with one foot in the gutter looking for cigarette ends - well, I feel a bit like that while I'm searching - even though I've never smoked in my life! I find really bloody bits, heads, legs, wings, many feathers and sometimes whole carcasses - though that's rare nowadays.
Some are easy to identify but the difficult ones I send to Ed Drewitt in Bristol. He's built up a huge knowledge of feathers as well as a massive collection so he can check any feather I send against his reference set.
If others find remains below the cathedral I do ask them to take them to Derby Museum so that we can identify and log them.
There are websites and books which show bird feathers and bones but to be quite sure, I'm in the habit of posting my finds off to Ed.
We also get prey remains from the nest tray once a year and we clear the nave roof below the nest also.
The corncrake story is a complex one and I'm not able to go into the details at the moment....maybe later on, we'll see how things develop.
This is the first year we've identified this species at Derby though it has been found elsewhere before. Nationally, there are some 130 species on the urban peregrine prey list so far - so they eat a vast range of prey, spreading out the impact of their eating habits very widely and by so doing, not threatening any one species.
the prey is all birds apart from the very very occasional mammal such as rat, suirrel and bat.
Meanwhile, we continue to collect what data we can on our Derby birds.
Nick B (DWT)

Nick Brown (DWT) said...

Gio: More on the Burton birds when I have more details/photos.

Nick B (DWT) said...

Ann: Derby has had a lot of development in the last few years but some of it has been quite environmentally controversial, destroying what we call over here 'brownfield' or old industrial sites which often had become very rich in wildlife once the industry and people moved out.
Where supermarkets now stand there were once ponds with little grebes, newts and frogs and colourful and interesting vegetation humming with bees and butterflies.
Making cities look better usually comes as an environmental price! And sadly, few if any of the new buildings in Derby have been designed to incorporate significant low energy or green features......
Nick B (DWT)

Gio said...

Thank you Nick! ;) :D

Karen Anne said...

Thank you for the pictures of Cathy, and thanks again to Colin for his care of her. She looks wonderful.

I am sorry to hear about the 'brownfield' development. The U.S. is no better, although I do read a lot about buildings here now having energy saving features or solar panels, if for no other reason than that it saves a lot of money long term in energy expenses for the owners. Maybe our climates are more severe than the U.K.'s, so we use more energy for heating and cooling, I dunno.

I've managed to cut my electricity bill by 30% just by replacing all my light bulbs with compact fluorescents, switching to warm from hot water on the washing machine, not using the heated dry cycle on the dishwasher, and not having lights on unless I'm in the room. Kind of like free money.

Helen said...

Just been watching the webcams and noticed a lovely peregrine shadow on the stonework of the tower! Can't see the actual bird ...... so I guess it must be sitting just out of shot of the camera. Although there is also an adult sitting on the scrape below.
@Ann (Canada) I think the juvenile that seems to have been around a lot recently may be 008? (The bird that lost it's orange leg ring). Some fantastic views of it lately on the webcams. It was very quick to take advantage of some of the leftover prey that one of the adult birds brought in last weekend. No wonder it doesn't seem in any hurry to leave!

Ann ( Canada ) said...

Nick you are so right. Always a price to pay in some way or another. Sometimes progress feels like one step forward two steps back. I am surprised England still has as much countryside left. Did you know that you can fit G.B.6 X into Quebec? and still have land left over? That is just one of our Provinces. Yet it has more than double the population of the whole of Canada. That boggles my mind. I think you are doing very well considering. We have a long road ahead sorry to say, to make improvements as far as our wild life is concerned. Not sure if it just isn't too late. However I am not ready to give up yet. Hope your not. Every little helps. It's hard to get people to understand that. Sometimes when you are older it's easier to see how much we have wasted over the years. Maybe the up coming generations might finally see that. We can only hope and continue to do our part.How ever small it may seem.

Pax Canada said...

The nest box is indeed small, have they given any thought to building a new one, or would the falcons reject it? Our falcons are very lucky to have such spacious quarters:)
Two on the tower cam right now.

Anonymous said...

I was lucky enough to see a corncrake on Iona last summer (I went on a day trip from the Isle of Mull). It happened to break cover as our party was walking along the road. I had no idea they sometimes flew over the English mainland!
Kate (Derby)