Thursday, 8 June 2017

Watch Points, the Weeping Window of Poppies and a drone

Here's a report on the Watch Point held on Wednesday 7th June, written for us by Joyce Sawford, one of our trusty band of volunteers (the others that day being Tony Sawford and Paul and Jane Whitaker):

When we arrived at Cathedral Green it was dry but very windy. We had to give up on erecting the flags, and we had to weight the table cloth down with one of the tripods, but we were ready for the off by 10.30 am.
Both adults and two of the chicks were visible, and we soon had members of the public keen to look through the scopes at these wonderful birds!
The tiercel was on the right hand grotesque where he sat for most of the morning!
The tiercel (male) sitting on a 'grotesque'. Photo: Joyce Sawford

The falcon was on the nest ledge, supervising the chicks who took turns in coming to the edge of the ledge to look at us. Within half an hour she had flown off and brought in a mid-morning snack for her growing family.

Feeding time (also showing the wide angle camera above). Photo: Joyce Sawford 

After 30 minutes she flew off with the remains of their meal and stashed it above the grotesques on the north face of the tower, then flew between the Cathedral and Jury’s Inn several times before settling back on the nest ledge while the chicks slept.
Time to flex a developing wing. Photo Joyce Sawford
Suddenly, both adults flew off together and disappeared from our view, heading towards the south-west, possibly chasing an intruder. The young ones weren’t left alone for long though, as the falcon returned and resumed her supervision duties.  She retrieved the stashed prey and fed the chicks again, and the tiercel came to join her in the nest.

He then treated us to an aerial display of ascending and stooping before disappearing from our view. By this time the chicks had woken up and we watched them testing out their wings in bright sunshine, showing how well their flight feathers are developing.
We had a steady stream of visitors right up until 13:45, when it quietened down so we closed the Watchpoint at 14:00.

Some of our visitors today were local, and others told us they came from Chesterfield, Sheffield, Nottingham, Stafford and Switzerland".
The Weeping Window of Poppies
This seven week long installation at The Silk Mill, close to the Cathedral, starts on 9th June and runs for seven weeks....for more details see here .
It is bound to attract many thousands of visitors to Derby.

The Weeping Window of poppies.
So if you plan to visit one of our future Watch Points (the next one is this Saturday 10th), be aware that local car parks may be full. You might consider parking further away and walking the last mile or so (perhaps along the river through Darley Park?) -  or catching a bus into the city. Also bring a brolly - the forecast for the morning is rain......
Photo from Derby Museum's website
Better safe than sorry
(Very) early this morning one of the project team went down to see whether the flying of a drone (used to photograph the poppies from on high) would produce any reaction from the peregrines. The last thing anyone would want would be for one of the birds to attack the drone and either injure itself or damage the drone - something that has occurred with eagles in Australia for example (the videos are on You Tube).
Fortunately the flying took place in the immediate vicinity of the Silk Mill and nowhere near the cathedral and the birds took no notice at all.
The drone pilot (with small drone at his feet) prepares to get it airborne.
It was a lovely morning and great to watch the male bring back prey, pluck it and take it down to the falcon who fed bits of it to the chicks.
The cathedral seen from near the Silk Mill. Note the white plastic 'shroud' which
covers the men working to replace the lead roof. The nest platform is at the base
of the large louvred 'window' on the tower.

The Project Team


Oak class said...

The chicks have grown a lot, we are very surprised at how fast they have grown.
We can see that the chicks have started to grow their adult feathers. When will the chicks lose all their white fluffy feathers?
This morning we saw the chicks huddled together to get themselves warm. We hope the sun comes out soon!

The Project Team said...

Hi Oak Class: you are right - the chicks have grown very fast and will continue to do so. Within seven weeks they become heavier than their parents!
And yes, the feathers are beginning to appear and as they do, so the white fluff disappears though there may still be little tufts of it just before the chicks fledge.
Tomorrow looks like being a better day though there's more rain to come on Saturday it seems.
We are very glad you are enjoying watching the growth of this family of falcons (and thanks too to your teacher!).
The Project Team

Helen said...

Brilliant footage shown on yesterday's Springwatch of an orphaned peregrine chick being placed into a foster nest at Salisbury cathedral. Absolutely fantastic! It's about 10 minutes and 50 seconds into the programme:

More information can be found here -

Kate Bunting said...

Yes, I was going to comment on that too. Most interesting.

Anne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anne said...

We too enjoyed the marvellous, caring footage shown on last night's Springwatch. What a shame it was necessary! The chick and its two siblings' parents were both poisoned. Let's hope the police and RSPB find those responsible.

Wendy Bartter said...

The arrangement of poppies is stunning!
Some chick antics from today ...

Wendy Bartter said...

Poor Mum suffering ...