Friday, 21 February 2020

A new season begins

With the web cams soon to burst back to life, it is an appropriate time to start blogging again as we begin yet another breeding season.
Scroll down to read about the hard and complex work now being undertaken to get full connectivity.
It's not been easy but we a re almost there!
The only way to watch the cameras at the moment is to go up the tower to the small project control area where the monitor can be switched on. Nick Moyes has already observed some courtship display....so the omens are good for another successful breeding season.
Displays on the nest will continue increasing in intensity as the weeks progress. Mating will occur in March and the first egg should be laid either at the end of March or in early April.
Before then, Nick will abseil down to clean up the nest platform well before egg laying begins.


Nick Moyes prepares to clean the nest platform
To read (much) more about the project click on the various tabs at the top of the blog home page.

To see any of the 50+ you tube videos of the 'highlights' over the years (egg laying, the rearing of the chicks etc) search on YT for Derby Peregrines VC57  and scroll down the blog for links.

Male peregrine on the edge of the platform
Photo Graham Whitmore
The female falcon
Photo Colin Pass
More pictures and stories from the past will follow over the next few weeks.....

The project team this season consists of Lisa Witham (manager), Emma Wood (until April), Mike Goold (Watch Point Events), Sam Spickett (community work), Nick Moyes and Nick Brown.

Nick Brown
The Project Team

Thursday, 6 February 2020

2020 Vision - Update 1

This update follows on from Tuesday's post, below.

Earlier today I went down to Derby Cathedral to meet up with two technicians from the oddly-named IT company, Worm Purple. Named after a child's accidental description of weirdly-coloured ethernet cables, Worm Purple provides the hardware connectivity for Derby City Council's IT infrastructure.

Worm Purple installing wireless network link

Tim and Adam had been busy. Using a small 'cherry picker'  they had already fixed up a new wireless link onto a streetside CCTV camera pole on Irongate by the time I had arrived. It was one half of the final network link we have been pushing and waiting for over recent months. The unit was aimed upwards, towards the clock face on Derby Cathedral, so our next task was to establish whether it would be 'seen' by a similar unit placed inside the tower's 'clock room',  where our webcamera kit is located.

As the years go by (and our project has been going since 2006) it seems that every time I ascend the ancient spiral stone staircase, my knees get progressively weaker, and I get increasingly  out of breath! Today was no different. Once inside, we rigged up an ethernet cable to a power supply unit so we could test out the other half of this wireless equipment, manufactured by SIKLU.

Adam and Tim from Worm Purple with one half of a SIKLU wireless access unit
As I had expected, we needn't have worried about the four or five centimetre-thick slab of painted sandstone which forms the clockface. It took just a few moments to clamber up behind the clock-face and establish a link by pointing it roughly downwards towards the street below and allowing the units to talk to one another. Great - so our next step was to find a way to fix the unit into position without doing any damage to the historic stonework of the tower.  So no drill-holes and bolts into the walls!

As luck would have it, there were already two solid horizontal beams running behind the clock face, and slightly staggered in their position. It seemed a simple task to tie a pole to these two beams, resulting in an ideal to point downwards. So, after getting them to pose for a picture Tim and Adam shot off with the radio unit, removed the other unit already in place in Irongate and sent them off to our friend an colleague, Tim Unwin at Derby Council. His task is now to configure the units to the Council network, prior to them being refitted at either end of our link. Once done, we hope it should be a relatively quick task to get the connection reestablished to our webcam hosting company.

Whilst we were up in the tower, we were delighted to able to watch our male peregrine drop in to the nest platform and do a little bit of scrape-making. He lay down on the gravel bed, pushing back with his talons, slowly carving out the simple depression into which the female will lay her eggs towards the end of next month. Before we left, and by way of thanks, I took Tim and Adam up to spiral stairs for a quick tour of the tower. We visited the carillon that automatically chimes the quarter-hour bells and another which plays musical tunes two or three times a day, and then on to look down onto the bells themselves, before coming out on top of the tower for a grand view across the city.
View onto Irongate from the top of Derby Cathedral's tower.

Hopefully, by next week we will at least have our network connection reestablished, and from there we can proceed to configure the public-facing webcams again.

Further updates to follow.

Nick M
Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project