Tuesday, 12 February 2019

2019 - we're back!

First, may we start with an apology?

The Project Team have been very silent for the last few months, and are sorry for the recent inactivity on our blog and webcams.
But things are picking up again as we look to the 2019 peregrine breeding season. So here's an update of what's happening.

Our wireless webcam link to the internet ceased last autumn.  This was due to major redevelopment work at nearby Silk Mill Museum, which was the first link in our network connection. All our ancient radio link equipment was taken out of the museum building. But it's so old that it we've been advised to retire it. Shortly after that happened,  I (Nick M) disappeared completely for five months as I had to throw myself completely into a major house renovation project of my own. (I had no internet either!).

Having quite literally dusted myself off, I and Nick B have returned to pick up this year's Peregrine Project, supported by our partners, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Derby Cathedral and Derby City Council.

In the next couple of weeks we'll be doing some routine platform maintenance and camera-cleaning work, so are watching out for a good weather forecast, sometime before the first week in March.

We are talking with the IT experts at Derby City Council about finding an alternative wireless connection. Essential wireless linking equipment that last year we were advised might cost us some £10,000 to replace, might now be  replaceable for around £800 or so, which is great news. Critically, we will need line-of-sight through the tower's windows to a council-owned wireless base-station somewhere. As this has yet to be installed on an experimental basis, we will have to be patient. At this time, we can't be absolutely certain it will work, and thus it seems sensible for us to investigate alternate means of establishing an internet linking, if needs be. This we are doing with the help of the Cathedral itself.

Adult female peregrine on top of Derby Cathedral Tower
We held a meeting last week with the Cathedral administrators to discuss plans for this season, including the timing of their Tower Tours (thoroughly recommended!) and how best to manage some essential repairs that are needed to the exterior of Derby Cathedral's 14th century tower. We're currently checking the legality of our advice with Natural England, who are the government body charged with licencing or approving any activities affecting Schedule I breeding birds.

Of course, the main thing is that the peregrines are back! Well, actually, they never went away, but we are now seeing them together on nearby Jury's Inn hotel, and on the tower itself. We're also hearing that familiar ''Eee-chupp' courtship call, proving that this season's breeding is starting to kick off again. So, if you're in Derby, keep one eye out - you might even be lucky enough to see them mating.

We do recognise that we have, not unreasonably, received some criticism for our inactivity this last few months, for which I must accept responsibility and apologise. But Nick B and I are as committed as ever to helping Derby's peregrines. It has been a pleasure and a delight to have had the support - both moral and financial - from so many people for this project over the years. We know it has bought immense pleasure to many people, near and far. Long may that continue.

We might not get the cameras up and running in the next few weeks, but rest assured that we're back. Well, we never really went away, either.

The Peregrine Project Team


Dee said...

Fantastic news. I have been checking daily and am currently watching Norwich Cathedral Peregrines that have a great camera and yesterday one of the birds was up close to the camera for quote some time.

Wendy Bartter said...

Great to hear from you NM, my fingers are firmly crossed for a successful outcome to all techie matters required to bring us live streaming again ... will you be settin up camera fund? Take care when you abseil down to clean nestbox as it seems we won't have the pleasure of watching you this year!

Sue Hetherington said...

Welcome back (even though you were there all the time really) I never really went away either even though life is busy is I seldom find a moment to comment these days. Thank you for all you do to share the Derby story with everyone. We understand that the IT is a huge technological and expensive challenge. It's all of supreme indifference to the birds themselves but we watchers ache to see what's going on. Unlike last year, Spring appears to be springing early and there must be quite a bit of peregrine action. If the waiting becomes too arduous, I'll just have to come on a "field trip"!

Hilary said...

Great to hear that things are on the move! As DWT take the leed (I understand)on the Peregrine Project are they funding the camera/I.T. issues at all? What contributions will they be making this season? Many of us are watching the many Peregrine and other wildlife webcams and it would be a shame if the Derby project got lost. The thing about the Derby Project was that I could log on round the world even on Christmas Day and almost always catch a glimpse of the birds. The Derby blog has always been absolutely the best one that I have come across and I have missed it a lot.

Kate said...

Great News. AS always THANK YOU for what you and the Team do, to allow us view these wonderful Birds.

Notice other sites, 'Birds' becoming more active. So Fingers crossed for you.

Heather said...

Well looks like we're hopefully nearly ready for all systems go this season. Quite a few hoops to get through yet with connections etc but fingers crossed all will be well especially with the cost having dropped dramatically. Good luck with the web cams and scrape annual cleanup

The house renovations sounded quite daunting Nick M but good to have all the Team back and can't understand why you had some criticism certainly no apologies needed..

Glad to hear that our birds are still together and making mating noises once more.

Unknown said...

Parked near the cathedral today and saw both birds. One sitting on a camera and one on the platform. Will remember to put binoculars in the car next time ! Good look with the project.

The project team said...

Hi All: thanks for your kind comments.
We hope to clean the nest platform sometime tomorrow weather permitting - a task we do each February.
Hilary: DWT manages the project and holds the donations we have received over the years from so many wonderful supporters of this project so yes, they will cover any costs involved in reconnection. We are hoping it will be less than £1000.
DWT will use this money to pay the staff member who will organise the Watch Points this summer....more on this later/nearer the time (let's hope we are not counting our chickens before they are even laid!)
Wendy: we hope that answers your question - we won't need any new funds having accumulated sufficient to keep us going this year for sure.
The project team

The project team said...

A successful abseil today, cameras cleaned and re-aligned and platform cleaned up.
Crazy hot weather for February!
More on this later....
The project team

Derby Cathedral Education said...

Already getting enquiries from school groups about the birds. Another exciting season ahead.