Friday, 31 December 2010

A Happy (and successful) New Year!

2010 was the fifth year our peregrine pair have nested successfully on the cathedral's lofty tower....though it wasn't without it's difficulties as you may well recall.

The Project started back in 2005 when the adult pair displayed over and around the cathedral but were unable to nest, there being not a single flat ledge on the tower on which an egg could be laid.

In spring 2006, a wooden nest platform was installed on the east side of the tower. Nick Moyes from Derby Museum and his mountaineering friend Nick Evans (who constructed the platform for us at cost) abseiled down and fixed the structure in place. Due to bad weather this didn't take place until early April and we felt sure that we were far too late for that season.

However, within a week the male had landed on the tray and found it to his liking. Within three weeks the female was laying eggs on the gravel lining though, from the ground below and in the absence of any cameras, we could only guess at the laying dates and the number of eggs. Six weeks or so later and we began to see tiny white heads appear above the lip of the platform....'we have chicks!'

In July three chicks fledged successfully, though one of them, a female, had to be rescued from the ground below and taken back to the top of the tower.

The story of our birds made headlines in the local media with stories on the front page of the local paper and on the regional television news.

As news spread, people flocked to see the young birds as they developed their flying skills. Spurred on by this success we 'hatched' plans to put up cameras before the 2007 season. A wonderful anonymous donation of £5000 enabled us to get everything in place and by the end of March we watched in anticipation as the first egg was laid. The project blog gave the latest news and video clips allowed people around the world to observe the birds court, lay eggs and eventually to rear their young.
And so the project has continued ever since. We still have the same pair of adults and so far they have fledged 17 young from 19 eggs.
As the days begin to lengthen, we expect to see the first signs of courtship before too long. The birds have bred earlier each year and in 2011, if all goes to plan, we can expect eggs well before the end of March.

What has been gratifying to those of us who run the project has been the amazing way that people have been drawn to the peregrines and the project. To date there have been over 1,800,000 hits to the webcams emanating from well over 60 countries around the world, testifying to the power of the internet as a mechanism to bring wildlife right into people's homes, their offices and, most importantly, into their hearts. Despite this, by far the majority of viewers come from two cities: Derby and London (the latter simply because of the huge population compared to Derby).

Many of these people have generously supported the project over these five years and we are extremely grateful to you all for your donations and your messages of support. Photographers have allowed us to use their superb images for free and the cathedral staff and clergy have given us all the help we could possibly have asked for.

Currently we are trying to work out what new innovations we might be able to bring to the 2011 this space!

Meanwhile, a Happy New Year to everyone who has tuned in to watch Derby's 'world-famous' peregrines during these five eventful years. Stay with us for 2011.....and spread the word even wider if you can.

Best wishes from the project team.

Nick M, Tony G and Nick B.

(Note to self: Don't publish this line until NM advises that his stats are online)
Nick Moyes tells me he intends to publish an article about webstats and on his new blog sometime in the New Year at


Stuart said...

Happy New Year! Looking forward to a successful breeding season in 2011.

Jane said...

Happy New Year to all the team! Will the scrape be tidied up again this year before our birds, hopefully, decide Derby is a brilliant place to bring up another family?

AnnieF. said...

One peregrine inspecting the scrape, another on the tower.

Craig said...

Yes a new year is upon us and soon, for the Peregrines, a new breeding year.

I was wondering if anyone will be giving the cameras or the scrape a clean, remove some of the mess, clean the lens (nice splodge on camera 1) and the plant growing on tower cam?

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

A Happy New Year to everyone.

Yes, I'll be planning to abseil down sometime before March to clean the camera lenses and check the conditoin of the wooden platform, as we do each year.

I've just purchased a special climbing device which should make it easier to unlock myself from the rope once the hour-long maintenance task is completed. The last few times it was quite a struggle to free myself! We'll be waiting for good, dry weather, of course.

Craig said...

"We'll be waiting for good, dry weather, of course."

In March... Risky.

AnnieF. said...

There's a peregrine on the scrape ledge, looking around.

AnnieF. said...

One peregrine on the tower.

Nick Brown (DWT) said...

Both adults standing on the grotesques above the nest platform this morning, enjoying - if that's the right word - the early morning sun.
Despite the freezing conditions, a song thrush was singing from alders beside the River Derwent on Cathedral Green....spring can't be that far away can it?
Nick B

Helen said...

Peregrine with prey on the tower cam at around 9.46pm this evening.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year to all...Mrs P been on the nest ledge for quite a while, waiting for Mr P I think x
Mo Cole Belper

Anonymous said...

Happy New year everyone. Looking forward hopefully to a successful year for the peregrines.

Mary T, Belper.
(forgotten password, will have to create another)

Mike G. said...

What a pleasure it is for us of the older generation to be able to view everything daily via your wonderful web cams, especially in the breeding season !!
My 79 year old wife is registered disabled & we live on the outskirts of Manchester, so we cannot get about as much as we would like.
Our sincere thanks to all your dedicated staff & long may your work continue !!!

Mo Cole said...

8.30am and Mr and Mrs P have just brought prey to the tower (pigion i think) enjoy....Mo Cole Belper

Craig said...

08.41 Both Peregrines on the Tower. Looks like the Falcon has food. Tiercel is watching her, or waiting for the scraps. looks rather good on camera. You have the falcon with her back to you and the Tiercel behind with his head over her back. Small head big body!

Can't tell what the pray is. Could be a pigeon, she's certainly taking her time with it.

Craig said...

09.13 Missed the majority of it but it appears that the Falcon has flown away with breakfast and the Tiercel, has come over to pick at some scraps.

09.16 He's flew back to other other perch.

They look in good spirits and health, hard to see those talons though.

Green Class said...

We can see two pergrin. one pergrin is eating a bird it's taking a long time to eat it.And the other bird is wating for his tern.Now the bird with the meet has flown away and the other bird didn't get any brekfast! The bird with the meet had very stripy legs like a zebra ! And when the pergrin was eating it's food it was holding on to the pray so it's food didn't move.We don't no if it was famayl or mail.

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

Our thanks to everyone for taking the trouble to leave comments and feedback during 2010. Over 2,500 comments were made last year, and Mike G's and Green Class' comments probably reflect the fantastic age range and interests of our local, regional and even world-wide audiences.

@Green Class Thanks for your lovely description, children, of what you saw on the webcameras. We know your teacher likes watching them with you, and we hope you will carry on making more observations like these and posting them here. We also find it hard sometimes to tell which is the male and which is the female - so don't worry! When they're close together it isn't so difficult, but when they are on their own it can be very tricky.
Do keep watching at school or at home during 2011, and keep an eye out for signs of birds starting to nest around your school or home, too.

Nick Moyes
Derby Museum and Art Gallery

Craig said...

"Do keep watching at school or at home during 2011, and keep an eye out for signs of birds starting to nest around your school or home, too."

No mention of at work? That rules me out then for the vast majority of the day.

Phoebe said...

HI and a Happy New Year to all.

There is a peregrine on the stonework at the top eating prey, it's not the prey that was stashed in the scrape as that is still there. I wonder if it was caught tonight...

Mo Cole said...

Don't know what is in the nest but it looks very ghostly whooooo.. Mo Cole Belper x

superbrad (Ian) said...

Hi all
I called in today at about 8:30 am both birds on the tower one on the left water spout and one top left aperture of the window arch
Feather flying as the one on the water spout was having its breakfast .
Took several photos over a 20 min period 6 have been uploaded to the Group Pool
There are more shots on the web for you to enjoy
They are not the best shots in the world as they are taken in rather poor light
You will find them at the link below :----

I find the best way to view the shots is to start the slide show with the button above the first picture.
and use the butons to navigate through the slide show

Regards Ian

Jane said...

It's very quiet here at the moment. Has anyone seen both birds recently? Over the last couple of days, I have seen one on the scrape and on separate occasions, one has been on the tower, often staying for a long time. It would be lovely to see them both together. Roll on the spring!

Jane said...

Finally, they have arrived together! Both birds are on the tower, with prey. Must be supper time!

Steph (Canada) said...

Happy New Year from Canada.....better late than never!!

Just read the posting from Green Class and it is brilliant!! Like Nick, I hope you continue posting your observations so that people in other time zones (like me who is 5 hours behind your time) know what was going on during the daytime hours.

Looking forward to 2011.

AnnieF. said...

One peregrine on the tower.

Kitty said...

It looks a bit cold and frosty on the webcam.

AnnieF. said...

Both peregrines in the nestbox; I think it's the tiercel lhs, having a close inspection, and the falcon on t'other.

Kitty said...

There is something blowing on to the camera.

Kitty said...

I can see a large peregrine on the edge of the box.

Anonymous said...

getting eggsiting lol , i see the notts uni ones have got the first egg

steve godfrey said...

its getting eggs iting lol , the Notts uni ones have their first egg