Sixty years ago they nearly died out across the Northern Hemisphere because of pollution of the environment by pesticides. But now their numbers are recovering. Increasingly they can be found breeding on tall buildings in towns and cities, as well as in their normal habitat of mountains ledges and cliffs. They hunt and kill other birds for food which they normally bring back to their ledge to prepare and eat.
Since 2006 our project has helped a pair of peregrine falcons to nest and raise chicks high up on the ancient stone tower of Derby Cathedral in England. We fixed a large wooden platform half-way up the 480 year old tower after discovering the birds had arrived and were trying to make their home there. The platform now offers them the only ledge on the building big enough for them to lay their eggs and to raise their young. This Peregrine Project is run by a partnership. Find out more here.
|Installing the nest platform, 2006|
Choose which camera to watch here.
The female peregrine is called a 'falcon', and she is quite a bit larger than the male, which is called a 'tiercel'. Both the adults have a white front with horizontal lines across them, and slate-grey back and wings. The juvenile birds are much browner in colour and have vertical lines on their fronts, unlike the adults. You may find it easy to tell adults from juveniles on the webcams, but it's not so easy to tell males from females unless they are both together, and you can compare their sizes. Then it's obvious.
Our project diary (blog) is in English. We post details of what is happening all year round, and many photos and videos are included. You can translate any page using the ‘Translate’ tool at the top right of every screen. We encourage visitors to leave comments or ask questions. To do this, simply click the ‘Comments’ link below the most recent blog post.(Please do not add comments on older blog posts as these are very unlikely to be seen or answered.)
You do not need to sign-up to leave comments. However, we do normally moderate (approve) all comments before publication. If you prefer you can email us directly at email@example.com. We will do our best to answer your questions.
Peregrine Falcon Life-cycle
Peregrine falcons lay their eggs in Spring, around the end of March. Eggs hatch some 30 days later in early May. Over the following six weeks the chicks grow rapidly, and fly from the nest ledge in late June or early July. The young birds can then be seen in the skies over Derby, learning to fly and hunt for food. By September they have usually moved away from Derby to find a home elsewhere.
|Common Snipe wing, found Jan 2008|
Since 2006 we have studied the prey species that the peregrines take. People imagine they just eat the local pigeons whereas they take a very wide spectrum of birds from small passerines like finches and thrushes to much larger birds such as duck, gulls and even crows and magpies. So far well over 50 different prey species have been recorded at Derby including birds that fly only at night such as woodcock, quail and water rails (the peregrines use the flood lighting to see their nocturnal prey as it passes by). The predators are particularly fond of wading birds with some 12 species recorded including lapwings, redshank, godwits and even the rare jack snipe. In 2007 the remains of an arctic tern was found on the nave roof with a Swedish ring on its leg. It had been ringed as a chick five years earlier on an island in the Baltic! (Read more here)
|Watch Points are set up each year on Cathedral Green|
Watching Peregrine Falcons in Derby.
It is easy to see the peregrine falcons if you live near Derby. The adult peregrines stay around the Cathedral throughout the year and are best seen from Cathedral Green at the back of the cathedral itself. See 'Location Map' on Blog Homepage or below. If you are visiting Derby as a tourist or as a local resident you will find Cathedral Green just a few minutes’ walk away from the main shopping areas and leisure facilities in the city centre. Combining the two makes a good day out (the Cathedral Centre, opposite the front of the building on Irongate, has a bookshop and cafe).
We run special 'WatchPoints' on Cathedral Green from mid-May to July. You can use the telescopes provided by local volunteers who will be happy to talk to you and answer any questions about Derby’s amazing birds. Check the blog for details of when WatchPoints are running.
You are also likely to see peregrines from that part of Derby's Inner Ring Road, known as St Alkmund's Way. One or more birds often sit on top of the huge blue lettering of the Jurys Inn hotel (but don't try and spot them while driving!)
Talks and Outreach.
|Artwork by infants at Brigg School|
Or we could arrange a special visit to a Watch Point here in Derby, or during a booked group visit to Derby Cathedral.
We will give preference to minority and disadvantaged groups as this will be supported by Heritage Lottery funding up to 2015. We would have to charge other groups. Contact us to book a talk.
Some schools have already made great use of the web cams and the blog and used this project in their curricular work. We hope to develop this aspect more in 2013 by developing a series of resources which teachers can use for free.
In 2013 we will start encouraging individuals within their own community groups to become ‘Peregrine Champions’. We will give them the information, resources and training they need to go out and talk to others within their own local groups. In this way we hope to get more people and groups involved and valuing the city's best-loved birds. We envisage those groups would mostly be related to age, disability or ethnicity. Should you be interested in becoming a Peregrine Champion next season, please get in touch by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org
For the next three seasons we have got Heritage Lottery funding for a number of specific activities and developments. But funds are still urgently needed to maintain the webcamera and enhance the project in other ways. Contact us if you would like to discuss how you could support the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project, either financially or in other ways. Or make a donation here
Further information on the Project is also available on the Derby City Council website.