|Derby Cathedral viewed from Amen Alley|
Then early in 2005 the cathedral architect took the first ever photo of our male bird when he leaned over the top of the tower and spotted a "strange looking pigeon"! Soon after, a couple of us went to the top, found prey remains and saw the birds too. In spring, we observed display but, with nowhere suitably flat to nest, the female bird disappeared around mid-March, only to return again in the autumn.
In the winter of 2005 a partnership between Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Derby Museum and The Cathedral was formed. Our plan was to take our time and work out how and where we might fix a metal nest platform, should that ever be allowed. But then in March 2006 our birds showed really serious signs of courtship and nest scraping. They had chosen the largest alcove available, but to still clearly far too small to be successful. So we hurriedly agreed to build and fix a wooden nest platform to the tower. We were encouraged with help and advice from urban peregrine expert, Nick Dixon, and the support of Tony Grantham, the Cathedral's Head Verger, and an anonymous donation of £5000.
Having gained the Cathedral's full support and necessary permissions, a nest platform was built by Nick Evans and installed by him and the museum’s Nick Moyes. Amazingly, within a fortnight the female was incubating her first clutch of eggs on the gravel bed set down inside the platform.
|Colin Pass's photo shows one web camera plus adult |
and juvenile on the edge of the platform.
It caused considerable interest, and thousands of people flocked to Cathedral Green over that summer to see them. A series of Watch Points with telescopes was quickly organised by Nick B to meet the interest. By July three young had fledged, although one youngster had to be rescued from the road below. Spurred on by the huge interest shown (and by our frustrations at not being able to see into the nest from below) Nick M decided to try and set up two web cams in 2007 and started blogging about his attempts. This went rather well so in 2008 he wired up a further web cam to give a view out along the top ledges above the nest. We were approached by local entrepreneur, Ashley Sims, who wanted to make a DVD about our birds. That went rather well, too.
Our blog also give us the chance to ask for donations to the project – £2500 came in last year, mostly from you - our amazing band of addicted webcam watchers.
In 2007 Alan Titchmarsh's Nature of Britain series featured our brand new webcams in its regional broadcasts, as did BBC TV’s Springwatch. Then last year Autumnwatch 2010 showed our ‘world first’ video clip showing the birds bringing back live prey at night. Recently, the project gave advice to BBC Radio 4’s writers for an ongoing but exciting storyline about peregrines in The Archers (we're sworn to secrecy, but listen here at 8 mins 15 seconds).
So, a big celebratory thank you to absolutely everyone who has supported this project over these five great years - to webcam watchers, blog commentators, corporate and private donors, Watch Point volunteers, tourists and visitors, superb local photographers and the many supportive people in Derby City Council, at DWT and at the Cathedral. Although we've attracted people from right around the world, ours really has been a local project that has mostly captured the interest and imagination of many local people. . .
Whether you are reading this in Derby or in Darjeeling, thanks for your interest, comments and for your generous donations. Here's to the next five years!
Nick B on behalf of the project team (Nick Moyes, Tony Grantham and Nick Brown)
As a sad postscript to this story, Nick Moyes was recently and very suddenly made redundant after more than 25 years in his natural history post at Derby Museum. You can read more on that story here.
I am hopeful that both Nick M and the museum will wish to continue their close and invaluable association with the project, and that a way can be found for this to happen. If it does not, it is likely that this blog will not continue in as active a way as it has to date. We'll keep you posted.
For the latest news about what's happened this year, please see the previous blog post below.
This Thursday 28th April 2011, 10am to 3pm at
Free of charge but advance booking is essential. For more information and to book, ring 01332 641901.