Saturday, 12 February 2011

Valentines Day Treat

Nick M. from Derby Museums taking time off work to ensure
the peregrine platform is in good order for the breeding season.
On Valentine's Day we're giving our peregrine falcons a treat. That is, we're hoping to ready their nest site for this year's breeding season.

Providing the weather holds, we intend to abseil down Derby Cathedral's tower and do some routine nest maintenance next Monday. This will involve confirming that the platform is still in good condition and soundly fixed. The camera lenses need a good clean (and a few arachnids need evicting, too). The microphone that has been dangling down all last season in the top left of  camera 2's picture needs re-fixing, and the worst of the gunk on the ledge may be removed.

As usual, a risk assessment has been done and the police informed. Assuming the weather stays mild and dry, we'll probably be on the nest platform by mid-morning. We normally turn off the webcams during this period so we don't cause alarm to unsuspecting webcam watchers who might think the nest is being raided or otherwise interfered with. Nicks B. M. and E. plan to be there to carry out the tasks, and we'll have the cameras back online just as soon as possible.

We have already seen both adult birds on the nest platform "eee-chupping" to one another - a definite prelude to mating and egg-laying. Once they start to nest, it is a criminal offence in the UK to disturb a pair of peregrine falcons. So this task has to be completed before the first week of March, or we'd be in trouble.

Some of you may remember the heartache we all experienced last season when two young chicks died
in the nest. Despite strenuous efforts by the Project Team to seek best practice advice and to gain official approval, we were refused permission to abseil down to remove the dead or dying chicks. Nature simply had to take its course. This reflects just how strongly the law wishes to protect these birds. It may seem that peregrines in cities are doing well, but even in Derby only around 50% of all eggs laid have ever manage to produce offspring that reached a year old. Elsewhere the situation is more dire - especially in parts of northern Derbyshire, where extreme persecution is still rife.

Nick M.
Derby Museum and Art Gallery

25 comments:

Jane (Belper) said...

Hope the weather is kind on Monday. It will be wonderful to have a clear view once again and I'm sure the birds will appreciate having their tray spruced up! Mind how you go on the end of that rope! Your efforts are greatly appreciated and I thank you all for giving me (and countless others)the opportunity to watch and share in, what would otherwise be, the unseen world that is the life of Derby's very own peregrine falcons. Here's hoping for another successful season.

Mo Cole said...

I agree with you Jane. We are part of the countless others that appreciate this wonderful show for free.... These guys do a sterling job and like you we are looking forward to seeing Mr and Mrs P and their new family (better get my spring cleaning done early) Good luck and take care..xx Mo and Pete Cole

Gio said...

I hate to read "extreme persecution is still rife".. :((
The same in Austria and part of Germany.
Anyway good luck for the incoming season.
We always follow the Cathedral pair. :)

KerrySuffolk said...

Mel, thank you very much for the link.

Looking forward to the new season! Good luck to the platform cleaning team, wishing you warm weather and calm skies!

Mary T said...

Just checked the weather forecast for Derby tomorrow and it's for sunny intervals and not too cold. Good luck for the sprucing up of the tray (it looks a bit messy, to say the least!).
Here's hoping for a successful season and best wishes to all the team for such sterling work - it's much appreciated.

Erica said...

Best of luck for Monday.

KerrySuffolk said...

Looks like you are going to be just in time for the spring clean! The falcon? looks like she is doing her own spring cleaning in the scrape this afternoon!

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

Thanks for your comments, everyone.
The weather this morning is looking good. We'll be off in an hour or so to spruce up the cameras.

Meanwhile one of the adult birds was on the platform this morning, appearing to be calling repeatedly, but without making a sound. I can only presume it was trying to cough up a pellet of indigestible remains - something I've not witnessed before.

Mo Cole.. Belper said...

Morning....9.45am 14th Feb...Mr and Mrs P are in residence sorry guys you will have to wait a while to do the cleaning xx

Phoebe said...

It looks like the peregrines are waiting for the team to arrive, they are both on watch, one on the top and one in the scrape. Maybe Mrs P is going to give instructions to you.

Good luck team, and thank you for all your hard work :)

KerrySuffolk said...

Just spotted a pair of feet on the tower!!!!!! Hope all goes well!

KerrySuffolk said...

Lesser bearded museum worker just seen at nest ledge, ? Nick M.

KerrySuffolk said...

Two large "birds" at the nest platform now, a handsome pair! Seem to have got masses of stuff with them, are they nesting?

AnnieF. said...

Wow! Fantastic view of an intrepid Valentine's Day cleaner there! Hope it's not too cold & windy. Can you identify that dead bird?
Take care!

Pam said...

Just logged on and there's a man in the nestbox ...

KerrySuffolk said...

Looks like there might be some rude words being said on the nest platform!

KerrySuffolk said...

Well done guys. Enjoy a nice hot cuppa when you get down. No way you would get me up there dangling off a rope and working at the same time!

Mo Cole... Belper said...

Well done guys a good 2 hours work (do you do domestic spring cleaning ?) Mr and Mrs P will be delighted with their new home, now looking forward to the next 4 months xx Mo Cole

Terry, Herts UK said...

Thanks for leaving the cams on this time during your Spring clean. Interesting to watch & the cam pictures are much more clear.

Fingers crossed for a good breeding season ahead; hopefully a bit less traumatic than the last one !

Green class said...

We are waching the people cleanig the birdcam and camres we hope the birds love there nise new clean home. The femele bird whill ley her eggs nisey and cleany in the box when she has them. The people have finished and it looks nise and realy clean and they have put the prey back on the platform!.

AnnieF. said...

Well done lads, it looks brilliant! Care to come round & clean up my kitchen? (I've just been baking & there are bits of pastry around the floor & flour on several surfaces...)
Joking apart, I watched you both anxiously as you hung there Lord knows how many feet up, & am very relieved indeed that you're safe & sound. I hope the peregrines will be grateful, especially as you've left their stash there.

Mary T said...

Well done chaps for such a fantastic job. You are very brave! I was watching from below and it looked very scary to me. Looking forward to getting a better view of things now.

Best wishes.

Nick B (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust) said...

Thanks for all your comments today and to Mary T who actually came down to watch (hope you didn't get too cold Mary!) along with a few others.
Everything went well. A BBC Radio Derby interviewer arrived and we did two interviews with him which will go out on Alena Naylor's programme between 10 and 1pm tomorrow (it's listen againable I believe).
Nicks M and E abseiled down, took away the grot and put fresh gravel on the tray and cleaner the lenses.
A school party came up to the top of the tower to have a look round.
All in all, a successful day I think.
New post in the offing shortly....
Nick B (the gopher!)

Project Member (Derby Museum) said...

Ah, just back from the Cathedral and had to chuckle, not only at everyone's comments, but also at our forgetfulness at not disconnecting the webcam feed, like we normally do!

Thanks to Green Class for your comments. Yes, we put a lapwing back that was already on the ledge, but we removed a lot of other birdy bits, including a small duck called a teal.

It was terribly heavy hauling up a big rucksack full of new, clean gravel. I'll put a "postscript" on our blog later on to tell everyone about all the describe all the jobs we did today. And if anyone knows who that was down at the bottom of Amen Alley with a big camera and tripod filming us as we abseiled down, do please tell us.

Meanwhile, I'm off to make the most of the rest of my day's annual leave! A cup of tea is called for. Big thanks to Nick E. and to Nick B. for their help today, too. (and for the well-earned drink in the pub afterwards)

Kate said...

Really looking forward to the new season Nick and team. Well done for all your brill work! I oe have numerous cameras around my garden and two on kestrel boxes... fingers crossed. I also have a live stream now on my website. I wonder if some peregrines would be interested in nesting on Lichfield Cathedral??