Wednesday, 5 June 2013

An exciting day for some visitors to our project

This Tuesday we had another group of children visit the cathedral for both an illustrated talk by Ian (with a member of the staff signing for the children) and to look through the telescopes. They were from Woodlands School's Hearing Impaired Unit. The chicks didn't show very well but the adults did - and the rain held off with even a brief glimpse of the sun! (Thanks again to our trusty band of volunteers who helped us out).
Woodlands School group at the Watch Point
St. Benedict's School visit. Last Wednesday, Ian Layton, our HLF-funded Engagement Officer, had arranged for a small group of children with either sight or mobility issues from St. Benedict's School in the city to come to the Cathedral to experience not only our peregrines but also some imported birds which they could hold and touch, given that most would be unable to see the peregrines.
The visit, funded by our lottery grant, was a great success and the children thoroughly enjoyed the experience. A falconry centre in Nottinghamshire brought a range of their birds of prey for the children to hold and to touch - a brilliant experience for those with little or no sight, in particular.
Both the birds and the children behaved exceptionally well - and thanks also to our great volunteers who helped out (Nikki, Steve, Howie and Pam) and to John Armitage from the cathedral.
Ian Layton wrote:
"The group arrived about two minutes after the falcons had flown off to Jury’s Inn – leaving us with precious little to see or hear. But just after our introductions, the female flew back to the Cathedral tower calling loudly and making plenty of noise! Perfect timing!!

We had set up a couple of scopes through which those youngsters with some sight could see the birds and the female helpfully sat on the lip of the platform for ten minutes whilst everyone had a good look. Whilst this was happening we explained a little about the birds - their life cycle, adaptations, diet etc .

Following this we went across into the Cathedral where the group were introduced to a number of imprinted (raised in captivity) birds of prey. All the young people were carefully encouraged to hold a bird on a gauntlet and – guided by the falconers – were enabled to feel the talons and feathers of an Eagle Owl, a Barn Owl and a Ferruginous Hawk as they held them on their arm. Whilst the group were having the closest experience of wildlife many of them had ever had. The youngsters were also able to touch ‘009’ – the young Derby peregrine killed in 2009 by flying into a building which has since been stuffed.

The session concluded with a bird song recognition quiz – ranging from Cuckoos, through Skylarks to – of course – peregrines.To round off, we made the point that today was really more than just about falcons, hawks and owls – it was to help people learn to care about wildlife and to realise about the pressures many species are experiencing.

As they left, they were talking about placing a barn owl box in their school grounds and about developing more wildlife education in school.

This afternoon I’ve received two emails from school – the first stating that one of the young men had returned saying it was “the best thing he’d ever done” – and the second from the head of the department asking whether the hawks and owls would be available for a wildlife event to be held in August. All in all, a very positive day!"


Watching a peregrine on the Jurys Inn sign with volunteer Howie Hall on hand

Josh just manages to see the peregrine's nest

Shannon touches a (very tame) eagle owl

Josh with a barn owl on his wrist

James about to hold the eagle owl

59 comments:

Louise said...

what a great experience for the children :)

Caroline said...

What a brilliant day for everyone - WELL DONE DERBY!

Sue Peregrino said...

My favourite Project does it again in reaching out to people who might have been missed before to say "hey, look at this, it's wonderful and I want to share it with you!" People can't care about the natural world unless there's someone there to show them and I'm sure you've now recruited a whole lot more people to be Wildlife Champions. I hope lots of you Derby folk come to the Watchpoint on Saturday because even I will be there, helping the Watchpoint team. I shall be once again making the long trip up from Bucks ("because you're worth it" as I think the slogan goes ) :)

Green Class said...

We saw some spots on the little chicks.In a fuw weeks the chicks will fly.The chicks are changing because thay getting bigger.Thay ceep hiding in the corner.The adult has yellow feet and the chicks have cremy feet.

Sue Peregrino said...

Yum, looks like it's supper time.

Sue Peregrino said...

We had a great open Watchpoint on the Green today when we enjoyed meeting about 300 visitors. The weather wasn't anywhere nice as the weatherman promised, what happened to the "scorcher" they said was on the way? I saw loads of birds other than the peregrines, but lots of them seemed to be made of yellow plastic, coul this have been anything to do with the Duck Race I ask myself?
We were honoured to have a visit from the legendary Nick Brown who said that he might be able to give us some exciting news about 002, a female fledged from Derby on 25/6/2007 .... watch this space.

Anonymous said...

FROM OMAR I SAW THE CHICS LYING With there head on the nest and they where flaping there wings and then the male kame to lookafter the chics I THINK HE BRANG A FRESH Pigeon racllif mancheter.

Caroline said...

Great to read about yesterday's Watchpoint -thanks Sue! Nick & Nick - looks like Steam 1 froze about 5pm? Falcon busy feeding the chicks on Stream 2 though - they're so speckled now they blend into the background. How sleek they are becoming!

christine said...

Does ne one no wether the nottingham chicks Have fledged yet! Can't see ne of them! From Christine

nick said...

Hi Omar: glad you are watching our chicks and observing their rapid development. With luck they will be taking their first flights within about three weeks - so they will be growing their proper feathers amazingly quickly now!
All the best
Nick

Sue Peregrino said...

Good grief, that platform is now several thousand percent worse than a teenagers bedroom! Do the chicks grow at that massively fast rate just so they can get away from the mess I wonder? The chicks are now between 29 and 32 days old (I think) so it won't be many more days before they go. I can't recall the stats from Derby fledges before but I think it's normally around 42 days? Did I meet you on Cathedral Green Christine? The Nottingham NTU site blog isn't very up to date with latest news, I wonder if you scroll down the comments you'll deduce something - or maybe leave that question yourself. The hatch was on 29th April so fledge should be anytime now?? The chicks do tend to gallop up and down those parapets and zoom round the corner so they can be elusive.

christine said...

Yes it was me sue! Very nice 2 meet you. I saw 2 of notts chicks this morning! Not sure about the other 2! Its fledge time this week for them I think!

christine said...

All notts juveniles fledged sucessfully! Just spoke 2 someone at Trent university!

Caroline said...

Good luck getting everything back online team - and thanks very much for your time! Just shows how much we take being able to see the falcons for granted - I watch them on my screen while working and it isn't the same not being able to clock on in the morning!

Peregrine Project Member (Nick M.) said...

Thanks Caroline. I'm up inside Derby Cathedral tower right now, and have got all but Stream 3 working again. It was a pleasure to bump into two groups of children from Oakwood School doing a tour of the tower, and to be able to talk to them about the work and achievements of our project. (I also shared some rather secret news with them which Nick B will probably be revealing here soon.)

2R Gorsefield Primary said...

We are waiting excitedly to see the chicks take their first flight. Tanya, from 2R at Gorsefield Primary, would like to know how long after their first flight will it be before they can hunt for themselves? Thank you!

Nick B (DWT) said...

Hi Tanya: thanks for your question which is actually quite difficult to answer.
The parents certainly teach the fledged youngsters the basics of hunting. They do this by catching and then dropping prey in front of the young and in mid-air.
The young have to grab the falling prey and gradually learn to do this skillfully, even turning on their backs to grab the falling food.
Quite when they can hunt entirely by themselves is not well known. The books say 'in a few weeks' the young begin to attack prey themselves - so perhaps by August?
So that's the best answer I can give you Tanya.
Keep those questions coming!
nick

Sue Peregrino said...

Hi Christine, it was lovely to meet you too. Glad to hear Notts have fledged fine. It's nerve racking stuff at Aylesbury, our singleton monster at 36 days is hopping about something alarming. I don't know if it'll hold on for as much as 42 days before flying. I hope to make another watchpoint or two up in Derby, it seems to be becoming my second home these days. I'm spending as much time there as Aylesbury which you can take as a great big compliment to your project! I think I may know the "exciting news" that Nick M referred to .... and with massive difficulty I'm keeping mum! Hurry up and tell the world Nick B before I burst.
Well done on the fixing the cams work Nick M, 3 of the 4 are busy preening, doubtless getting that itchy old down off! Now they're all yelling, I guess they've caught sight of a hoped for meal!

Anonymous said...

Hi Elissia here,
How long until the younger chicks start learning to hunt? Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Great to see the cameras working again. We are so lucky to see these beautiful birds so close up. All very exciting and can't wait to hear Nick's exciting news!

Mary T (Belper)

Nick B (DWT) said...

Hi Elissa: it will be another 10 days or so before the chicks start to fly from the nest and then maybe another month before they are skilled enough in the air to start chasing prey themselves.....so that takes us to the end of July, more or less. I doubt that any chick will catch its own prey successfully until well into August.

Nick

Nick B (DWT) said...

The 'exciting news' Nick M referred to is that we think that one of our chicks from a past year is now breeding successfully elsewhere in the UK. As yet the number (or letter) on the (orange) ring hasn't been seen - let alone photographed - conclusively and we are not yet clear whether the nest site is secret or in the public domain. So we await further news from the local bird watchers and nest guarders.
It may be next week before we can go public with any (confirmed) news - so please bear with us while we await a definitive photo and clearance to tell everyone if indeed this is one of our birds!
Nick B (DWT)
Ps. The nest is not easy to see into apparently but it seems very likely that there are some chicks in it!

Anonymous said...

Some questions from children at Gorsefield School in Bury:
Rebecca wants to know if Peregrine Falcons ever catch rabbits?
The Group wants to know if you know the age of mum and dad?
Niamh wants to know if the birds can "talk" to each other so when they screech they understand each other?
Thank you

Nick B (DWT) said...

Hi Gorsefield! here are some answers to your questions:
No, our birds don't catch rabbits Rebecca. Almost all their food is birds and these are caught in the air as they fly along. Only once did we see on the cameras a mammal being brought in. It was a rat! Now even here in Derby we don't have flying rats - so we think this rat may have been caught while a peregrine was having its wash by a river somewhere. Perhaps a rat also came for a drink, got too close and the peregrine just reached out with its talons and grabbed it. That's our theory anyway!
As to the age of the parents: well, they were both present at the cathedral in 2005 and were certainly two years old then, maybe more. That would make them now at least ten years old wouldn't it?
Wild peregrines can live several years more we think - so with luck these two in Derby will continue to breed at the cathedral for awhile yet....let's hope so anyway!
Niamh Hi: that's an interesting question you ask about how the birds communicate with each other.
The sounds they make do express what they are feeling - so they have different calls for different things. For example. their alarm call is quite different from the quiet calls they make to each other in courtship display early in the season.
Obviously they do not have the complex 'language' that we humans use but they seem to manage very well don't they?
Also they use 'body language' to communicate to each other. So the smaller male can be very submissive to the female and when he is, he crouches low to the ground.
We don't understand everything about these amazing birds - but the cameras do help us to see what is going on.
Hope that helps!

Nick B (DWT)


Anonymous said...

Thank you Nick B! Elissia.

Joy said...

Not seen the parent birds for a few days now!

Caroline said...

Fingers crossed for confirmation that the Derby pair may have become grandparents aged 10! How exciting.

I watched the male/father turn up about about 3.30pm but without food. All the hungry chicks started shrieking and chasing him; at one stage he almost fell off the edge. Rather funny. He hopped onto the platform and stuffed an old bone down one open beak and then seemed to back off and wonder what to do. Clearly their cries made him want to feed them but... He disappeared and the fab four did a lot of wing-stretching but they're all still dozing now almost 2 hours later.

Sue Peregrino said...

Joy, not sure where you're based, but if you live near to Derby you can go and watch "for real" on Cathedral Green. I was there today and can tell you the adult birds were not on the platform, but were not far away. The female spent a lot of time sitting on the "left hand side waterspout" and the male was on the stonework a bit lower down. Every now and then, one of other of the adults would go off on a hunting foray and we did see at least one piece of "dinner" brought home and fed to the fast growing young.
We had lots of lovely schoolchildren visitors today when we did a short watchpoint in conjunction with an invitation event for the boys at Woodlands Hearing Impaired Group. Come on boys, send lots of difficult questions for Nick Brown to answer! I thought your sign interpreters were fantastic and I learned lots of things about hearing and hearing impairment. I am proud to say I now know the sign for "nictitating membrane"!

Caroline said...

Sounds like you all had a fantastic day at the Watchpoint. Sue, and I look forward to the boys' questions.

After being chased by hungry chicks earlier this afternoon, the male turned up empty-handed again about 8.30pm. However, the female appeared at the same time up on the tower with small prey which she plucked. When she dropped it into the nest, the big female chick raced in - wow, they can run fast when they want to - and grabbed it! She got into a corner with her back to her brothers so they couldn't get the food although one tried and failed. Even the tiercel/father seemed to try at one stage because he returned and went straight into her corner. But she didn't give way (and is about his size now?). Wonder if the parents went off hunting again? I suppose the chicks calls every time they come near must stimulate then to hunt more. Fascinating how they seem to "know" what stage the chicks are at (i.e. no need to feed them pieces of meat any more) and to go hunting more.

Jean said...

Can I see a leg with a ring on it, left over from some prey? If so you will no doubt be able to tell exactly what they were eating that time.

Oak class, Holmesdale Infant School said...

We haven posted in a while because we've had some technical problems!! We can still watch the webcams but we cant post at the moment, so our teacher is posting this from home...
We have been watching the chicks grow up. They have got quite a few grown-up feathers now and are looking a bit scruffy. They are much bigger now and we have noticed that their mum leaves them on their more now... this afternoon they were all asleep!

When they grow up will the mum abandon them?

Caroline said...

I clocked on at lunchtime today and the falcon had a large prey and was surrounded by 4 orderly chicks which she was feeding. Perhaps only small prey get left for the chicks to fight over and then figure out how to eat on their own. Has anyone else noticed how often the tiercel seems to visit the nest with nothing? One wonders what for since the chicks just hassle him. He quite often goes to the corners so is he being lazy and looking for scraps?

Sue Peregrino said...

I tend to agree with you Caroline that the adult male appears to be a touch on the useless side as a provider. As a team, the pair are clearly very effective and successful so he can't be so useless. As the smaller bird, perhaps he's not able to tackle the larger prey that the female can. Maybe he's being a bit sneaky and catching stuff for himself and consuming it away from the platform .... but why would he keep turning up at the platform with nothing? We need Mr Brown to help us out with some theories.

Caroline said...

I wondered if nature makes sure that both parents are somehow drawn to the chicks and so the male almost can't help himself from coming to the nest even though he doesn't have a catch. Sue's theory that the female does more of the hunting seems a good one. The female certainly brought in a big lunch yesterday and plucked something else sizeable on the tower at dusk last night and then fed the chicks one by one. The fab four were stuffed yesterday compared to the day before when they were pecking at leftover scraps in the nest after a 6hr gap. They are getting sleeker and sleeker. Let's enjoy them while we can because they'll be gone soon!

Caroline said...

P.S. I've just loaded some screen-grabs on Flickr of the hungry chicks almost knocking "Dad" off his perch when he turned up on Wed without food. Also some shots of the chicks showing off their wings... fascinating to see that the male chicks only have a line of white fluff left on the wing underside now whereas the female chick still looks like a dark cushion losing its white-feather stuffing! Someone told me that peregrine feathers are stiffer than usual to help withstand the pressure on them when the bird dives (stoops) at speed?

Caroline said...

Just seen one of the chicks preening while boldly sitting on the edge at the front of the nest - so perhaps everyone at tomorrow's Watchpoint will get their first full view of a juvenile showing off ?!?

Green Class said...

the chics have more fethers and they are getting gridyer. this morning we lookt at them we saw them flapping there wings. this aftoon they are sleepy. they are eting bits of meat by them selfs now. we sed that thay are not verry tidey. Thay do not cleen up after tea.

nick said...

Hi Oak Class: eventually the parent birds will abandon the chicks but not for at least a month after they have fledged....and probably longer. And it is not so much that the parents abandon them but that the youngsters gradually drift off and start to fend for themselves.
Nick

Sue Peregrino said...

The weather wasn't particularly kind to us watchers today, it was grey and cloudy for most of the session and at one point it poured for a few minutes sending us all scuttling off for the shelter of the trees. The adult birds spent most of the time sitting like statues on the left hand side of the tower. When it rained, the male found himself a nice little niche to shelter in (I don't think he likes getting wet)
I went and checked out the relay showing in the Cathedral Shop and overheard two people saying they couldn't see any young peregrines. I realised that to the casual view, the chicks no longer look like chicks but full grown adults. If you look hard, you can see there are scruffy bits of down and they're not quite the same colour as fully adult birds. It's not going to be long now until they fly, definitely less than a week.

Caroline said...

Thanks for your updates from the Watchpoints, Sue, much appreciated. Yesterday, one of the male juvies seemed to spend a fair amount of time on the nest edge and has started really beating its wings and fanning out its tail. I hoped people might get a good view from below from time to time.

What do people bet about the female being last to fly as she has more weight to get off the ground? Or is she likely to develop the necessary strength at the same speed as her 3 brothers? She's still flecked with down compared to them.

AnnieF. said...

The comment by Anonymous on 16 June @ 01.51 is spam.
Three chicks on the lhs of the scrape looking very grown-up all of a sudden, the fourth not quite so. A very pleasant morning apparently.

Pete said...

first time post on here , but i've been lurking for 2 years , checking progress , i think you are doing a great job following and supporting these majestic creatures , keep up the good work ..

footnote :-

i'm gonna predict thursday 20th as first flight attempt day :)
Pete.

Caroline said...

Falcon arrived recently with fairly large pale prey but left the juvies to figure out what to do with it. One male grabbed and defended it in the corner until his brothers eventually barged in and he let them have it. The big female chick ignored all the fuss so I guess she's not that hungry this time! The smallest male got its head in under the chest of the larger male and kept eating, never risking raising his head and hence losing his position. The bigger male kept buffeting him while trying to pull feathers from the prey's wings but the smaller one didn't shift until the bigger one managed to race off with the prey to the other side of platform... there was lots of squawking when he stole it! The remaining three waited until it had finished and the female chick is having a go now.

Sue Peregrino said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sue Peregrino said...

Thank you too Caroline for your cam observations. The two aspects put together make the big picture, each lacks that bit of insight. That's what makes the Watchpoints on Cathedral Green so great, watchers of the tower can dash straight up Amen Alley and see the relay that shows in the cathedral shopwindow and see onto the platform that we just can't see down below. It's so frustrating just seeing a little head peeping at us down on the Green! Best of all, if you do come in person (and I believe there will be 3 more Saturday Watchpoints organised) while up at the Cathedral shop, you can pop in and have a lovely cuppa in cafe! What could be more perfect.

Anonymous said...

Finally made it to the watchpoint on Saturday (have been away the previous 3 weekends, latterly on a wildlife trip to the Hebrides!). Didn't manage to see the chicks as they were huddled down, but saw both parents.
Was pleased to see some clips of "our" birds on Springwatch last week.
Kate (Allestree)

Anonymous said...

Does anyone have any idea as to when the chicks are likely to fledge?

Nick B (DWT) said...

Hi Anon: fledging is probably a few days off yet. They need to do a lot of flapping and strengthening of those wings before they take the leap off the platform.....unless one gets accidentally pushed or knocked off by a sibling of course.
A new blog post about this will be put up shortly.
Nick B )DWT)

Nick B (DWT) said...

Pete: welcome to the clan! Glad you like the set up.
We are still experiencing some 'marks' on the new camera (the low level, wide angled one) so next year we will have to move it a bit higher to avoid those projectile poohs!
Nick B (DWT)

Linda Emmans said...

Looks like one of the boys took to the air this am at 0830. Had been watching, much wing stretching and then heard a commotion and only 3 chicks in the nest. Hope he's ok.

superbrad said...

8:45 I can only see three Eyases in the scrape.

Has one fledged ???

Ian

Green class said...

we can oniy see three chics this moning. we think one has flejd. hooray!!! It must be a good fliyer. wel dun to that peregren.

Peregrine Project Member (Nick M.) said...

Hi there, Ian.
Yes we are getting reports that one left the nest at 08:30 this morning. Only three visible in the cameras at 09:10 this morning. Nick Brown is on his way down with our 'rescue box' - just in case. There's a Watchpoint later today, so there should be a few eyes and ears about.
Nick.

Green class said...

we can oniy see three chics this moning. we think one has flejd. hooray!!! It must be a good fliyer. wel dun to that peregren.

Peregrine Project Member (Nick M.) said...

Thank you Green Class - well spotted.
We have just published a new blog post, and mentioned that you had been one of the first to spot that one had flown.

All: Please leave further comments on our latest post please, not this one.

ashraf said...

were is the adult birds. did all 4 come back in the night. was the peregrine falcon a girl.

ashraf said...

where is the adult birds. did all 4 come back in the night. was the peregrine falcon a girl.

nick said...

Hi Ashraf - please leave any more comments on the newest post not on an old one like this where no one will see it! That will be better for you and for us too. Thanks.
The young peregrines usually return to the cathedral at night if they can get there - and it seems most now can fly well.
The last one to fly was a girl - or as we say, a female peregrine....so you are correct!
Nick

ashraf said...

did she fly well.