It was a lovely winter's day, sun shining, snow melted on the streets and the cathedral tower looking at its very best.
With Matt Croney, a senior manager at DWT who is currently responsible for our project, we took Ian up the tower to the top. En route we stopped off in the ringing room to show Ian and Matt where the equipment is that takes the images from the web cams and sends them off via a very complicated route to the outside world. In that room there's a TV monitor so we could watch the live web cams only a few yards away from the nest.
While we were there we looked out of a small window down on to the wooden steps below us that take people out onto the nave roof. There on the bottom platform was the corpse of a bar tailed godwit, almost complete. The peregrines must have accidentally dropped it from the platform above or perhaps from the grotesques directly above the platform. The bird has a long slightly upcurved beak and bars on its tail, features that separate it from the rather similar black tailed godwit.
Bar tails are birds of the coast and estuary, rarely seen inland. This one probably was flying across the Midlands on its way between feeding areas on the East Coast and the Dee estuary or perhaps the Lancashire coast when one of our birds grabbed it out of the night sky - at least, that's our theory!
When we reached the top of the tower, the adult birds that had earlier been sitting on Jurys Inn, enjoying the sunshine no doubt, had both gone though we located one on the top of the police aerial about 600 metres away.
The views from the top were magnificent.
We could see Crich Stand to the north, away up the Derwent Valley and the River Derwent below us, snaking past the newly refurbished City Council House down into the Trent Valley where it joins the River Trent which flows towards Nottingham in the East.
On the tops of the grotesques were the remains of various other winter prey - two golden plovers on one, the head of a teal on another and a woodcock on a third.
We spent the rest of the day in the warm Cathedral Centre, beginning to give Ian the background to the project and the remit for his work. Tony Grantham, ex Head Verger and now a keen volunteer for our project, dropped by to say 'hello' and we began to introduce Ian to the current vergers and other cathedral personnel.
There'll be future posts about what Ian will be doing in more detail but for now, we all wish him well. He's got a lot to achieve in the six months ahead but we're sure he'll get all the support he needs.
Nicks Moyes and Brown
Update1: the project was invited to have a stand at a Heritage Lottery Fund meeting today at The Roundhouse in Derby. It was attended by the people who make the decisions on grant bids in all the various regions of the UK.....so some important and powerful people were there. We spoke to some of them who'd come from all over the UK and tried to explain just how exciting this project has been and what it hopes to achieve with the new HLF grant. One committee member from Devon had independently found and watched the project's video clips on You Tube (accessed via the blog) and spoke very highly of them - and the fact they were out there for anyone and everyone to see! (All Nick M's work of course).
Most of us have been seeing marks in the snow on our nest ledge, but the birds themselves have not been too evident. This screengrab below was captured by HelenSara and posted to our Flickr pool. It shows both adults on the platform, one preparing a meal. Apologies for the black hole in the top right corner. Our third camera (towercam) is currently sitting in my garage, with its replacement on the kitchen table, neatly mounted on a new wooden support, and almost ready to go back in its place when the weather improves.