Tuesday, 21 April 2015

21st April - National Peregrine Day?

Seventy years ago today (21st April 1945) Derek Ratcliffe climbed to his first peregrine eyrie in the north of England. he went on to become the world expert on this bird. A book about his life and work for nature in general and peregrines in particular has just been published (see below).
For those of you who have never heard of Derek Ratcliffe, he was a life-long student of peregrines and wrote the monumental monograph entitled simply The Peregrine published by Poyser Press, the bible for anyone seriously interested in this enigmatic bird.
Derek Ratcliffe
It is probably due to Derek that we have peregrines on Derby Cathedral and indeed in so many other towns and cities across the UK. For it was Derek's scientific work in the 1950s and 60s that showed that DDT and other persistent organochlorine pesticides were accumulating up the food chain and affecting the thickness of peregrine egg shells such that they cracked when the parent birds sat to incubate them. The birds failed to rear any young and rapidly declined to the point where they were extinct in much of Britain.
Derek's research led to the banning of these very dangerous pesticides, after which, peregrines and other top predators (from sparrowhawks to otters) began to increase once more.
To read more about Derek and the book that celebrates his life go to Mark Avery's blog where a Guest Blog by Stuart Housden explains all:  www.markavery.info/blog   (you will have to scroll down to the blog entry for 21st April).
The suggestion that we celebrate and remember Derek by calling today National Peregrine Day made by Stuart seems an excellent one to me.
The new book about Derek Ratcliffe

Nick B (DWT)
Ps. The book, Nature's Conscience, published by Langford Press, sells for £29.99 .
Pps. Derek died in 2005, just as web cams on peregrine nests were starting to become available.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Nottingham have a chick this morning

Sue Peregrino said...

What a lovely and interesting piece, Nick. Thank you for that. Although I've heard of Derek Ratcliffe, I've never seen a picture of him before. I must get that book! We who delight in our peregrines owe a huge debt of thanks to the man for making sure there are still peregrines around for us to thrill to. I think we must also not forget to give thanks to the American, Rachel Carson whose book "Silent Spring" first alerted people to the havoc being wreaked by organochlorides.

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

We have been receiving a number of reports (for which many thanks) of Stream 4 not working. However, whenever we check it all seems fine. If anyone sees any of the camera streams frozen, would you be kind enough to check the other three streams too? If they're also frozen at that time, it tells us something different about the intermittent fault than if it were just one camera. If you know roughly how long it is frozen for that may also give us further clues.
BTW: Stream 3 has now been activated again, and is currently giving us views across the tower top.
Many thanks
Nick M

Anonymous said...

Thanks Nick for letting us know.