Thursday, 23 June 2022

Hen harrier nest web cam and news of Hen Harrier Day

Now our Derby web cams are showing an empty nest, you can watch a new and exciting web cam trained on a hen harrier nest in SW Scotland, organised by Hen Harrier Action:

Tarras Valley Nature Reserve: Hen Harrier Nest-Cam☀️18/06/22 - YouTube

Currently the female has small chicks but as they grow, the action in the nest will increase.......
As you may know, hen harriers in the UK (and especially in England) are at a very low ebb, threatened by persistent and totally illegal persecution on driven grouse shooting moorland.


Chris Packham examines a hen harrier killed by an illegal leg trap

Read more about the
'disappearance' of two male hen harriers on the Derbyshire Peak District moors earlier this spring on the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's website:
Sudden disappearance of two male hen harriers in Peak District | Derbyshire Wildlife Trust .

And if you live in Cheshire or can travel there, Hen Harrier 'Fest' this year is near Macclesfield on 24th July:

Hen Harrier Fest 2022 - Wild Justice

This is the first 'real' Hen Harrier day since the excellent one at Carsington in Derbyshire in 2019 attended by over 1500 people with speakers including Iolo Williams and Chris Packham!


Iolo Williams at Carsington Hen Harrier Day 2019



The Project Team


 

Saturday, 11 June 2022

Gaining skills and a Watch point report...

 FINAL WATCH POINT CANCELLED: (SATURDAY 18th June)

With much regret we have decided to cancel Saturdays final Watch Point due to heavy rain being forecast to move in during the morning. Our apologies if you were hoping to drop by and say 'hello' one last time. The birds will still be there, and we'll be there for our next breeding season in 2023. 


Watch Point report for Saturday 10th June by Helen:
We had great views of all three juveniles during today's watch point. One of the male birds (XL) and his sister (XK) could be seen together on the nave roof, and it was exciting to see the adult female fly in low overhead and drop prey down to them. The other male juvenile (XJ) seemed content to spend the morning resting on top of the tower. The adult male was also perched on one of the cameras at the side of the nest platform.
We were kept busy with lots of visitors, including some very enthusiastic children and their parents from a Wildlife Watch Group in Matlock Bath, who were keen to ask questions and find out more about the birds.


The three juveniles are gradually gaining hunting skills but it will be some time before they can fend for themselves.
They usually stay around the tower and Jurys Inn until August when they may begin to drift further away.
Next Watch Point is on Wednesday 15th June.
Please scroll down to the previous post for more information about the project (and how you can donate to support it).

Here are three more great photos of the juveniles taken today (11 June) by Dave Farmer ( gdfotos.co.uk ):







The Project Team

Monday, 30 May 2022

Peregrines in Paradise - or in Peril? A post by Alice Smith - and the final one fledges.......

Update from Watch Point, Weds. 8th June by Antony Pooles:
An action packed and fab
watchpoint today. All three juveniles were about, hurtling round the tower and nearby buildings, honing their skills chasing pigeons in company with the male. Two Red Kites flew over too! Photos by Dave Farmer (gdfotos.co.us) from earlier in the week. Next Watch Point this Saturday 11th June.....



Update Wednesday a.m.: Seems the final juvenile fledged very early this morning. Thanks to you night owls for keeping watch!

Hopefully this morning's Watch Point will locate her.
To read about the previous fledging and falling action scroll down to the previous post!


Watch Point Update Weds. PM by Helen.
It was a good watch point. The female juv finally fledged around 6am on Wednesdday morning, and was later seen by everyone at the watch point, perched on the end of the nave roof facing out towards the Green. She looked very settled until the end of the morning when she then started to do quite a lot of wing flapping and hopping around.  We thought she was going to go, especially when it started to rain but she was joined by one the male juvs and they were both still there when we left.  The two male juvs were perched side by side on the top of the tower for a lot of the time, which was great to see. They are both looking more confident now and made some short flights. We also saw the female juv eating, so she is clearly being supplied with food. I’m sure she’ll be ok. Both adults were also around and were on JI when the team left. 



For those of you new to this wonderful project, it was started back in 2006 and is now managed by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.
Our excellent project partners are The Cathedral itself (of course) the city council's IT team who provide connectivity to the web cams and Cathedral Quarter, the marketing agency for that part of the city.

The Trust pays all the bills, organises the Watch Points and supports the project in many other ways too (so any donations you make are directed to the Trust and go specifically to this project).

This year we are extremely lucky to have a trainee, Alice Smith, working on the project and in addition, organising site protection work at other much more vulnerable peregrine nests out in the Derbyshire countryside where persecution occurs every year.

Alice has been at the Watch Points and helping with the rescues over the last few days and she has written this post for our blog (and if you scroll back down the blog, she also wrote an introduction to herself back in April):


Hello everyone, 
I’m Alice the new peregrine engagement trainee.
It’s been wonderful to see some of your faces at the Watchpoints over the last few weeks and to read your comments on the blog too!
I’ve been watching our Derby peregrines hatch, grow and fledge (both successfully and unsuccessfully) alongside all of you.
Being in this role has given me experiences of a lifetime; from rescuing a peregrine fledgling that decided to take a swim, to monitoring rural peregrines and running the watchpoints - and all within my first three months!

Unfortunately, throughout my time here I’ve realised how lucky our Derby Cathedral peregrines are. Our peregrines have 24/7 protection with the webcams and are living in a busy environment with people who appreciate them.
However unfortunately, this isn’t the case with rural peregrines. Across Derbyshire, peregrines are at risk. Our county’s chicks and eggs are being stolen and sold for use in falconry in the Middle East.
Sadly, one of Derbyshire’s nests has already been raided this year and video footage of a man stealing wild peregrine eggs has been released by the RSPB.
Watching the parent bird alarm call and lose its eggs is heart breaking, and not something any parent of any species should have to experience. 

Not only this, but once the peregrines have fledged, they still aren’t safe from certain humans. Raptors throughout the country are thought of by some as a pest, a nuisance, and an issue. Believing peregrines and other raptors are a pest has led them to be shot, poisoned, and trapped.

Raptors throughout history have struggled with a conflict with humans. Previously red kites were almost extinct and currently, the hen harrier is struggling for its survival with two males 'disappearing' on grouse moors in the Peak District a few weeks ago, leaving their females unable to incubate the eggs that had been laid. We don’t want our peregrines to have the same fate. 

Peregrine trapped at a Midlands nest site (photo: RSPB)

To combat this Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has set up a Peregrine Protection Team, where nest sites are watched daily. Over twenty volunteers have dedicated their time to protecting Derbyshire’s rural peregrines and we have had the success of watching peregrine chicks grow and escape persecution at one high-profile site which we have been monitoring and which has suffered robbery in the past.  

I just wanted to say a massive thank you to all the people watching on the web cams, volunteering, and donating to protect this amazing species, you’re all doing a superb job!
And thank you for letting me share this amazing (and very eventful) season with you all. It's not over yet!

Alice Smith

 Here are some links you may wish to follow to learn more about peregrine persecution in this county and in the UK:

Links to a local court case:


Derbyshire Police criticised as prosecution collapses against alleged peregrine egg thief in Peak District – Raptor Persecution UK

Peregrine suffers appalling injuries after being being shot & trapped in Suffolk – Raptor Persecution UK

Peregrine found shot dead on grouse moor in Strathbraan – Police Scotland refuse to publicise – Raptor Persecution UK

And you can learn more about the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and the work it does not only to protect raptors like peregrines but in so many other ways. If you live in the county, please consider joining us! 

Home | Derbyshire Wildlife Trust

Finally - watch out for Hen Harrier Day coming up in July!
More on this later.....


Sunday, 29 May 2022

Saturday's Watch Point, a rescue, and some stunning photos

Saturday's Watch Point became a rather prolonged affair. Our second male (XL) fledged earlier that morning at 06:45am. And just as it began, a report was received that a bird had landed on St Mary's Bridge, behind the Silk Mill Museum (aka Museum of Making), and had fallen in the river.

Young male, XL, down by the River Derwent.
By the time our volunteers had found it, the bird was standing amongst vegetation beside the river. Another stealth capture with a big box and a large towel soon got him captured. 
An XL-ent capture (Photo Helen Naylor)


We returned via the Watch Point to let the visitors there take a quick look at him, sitting quietly in the box, before once again climbing the 200 or so spiral staircase steps and returning him to the roof of the Cathedral tower. Alice, our new Peregrine Engagement Officer lifted off the cover and gently let him out. 

 


Alice returned to the Watch Point, whilst I stopped to power up my laptop and vainly searched our movement-detection recordings in the camera for interesting clips showing either of the two young males' first flight. By the time I'd done, the Watch Point was almost over, and I stayed to chat with Helen, Alice and Chris for a while.

XL back on the Cathedral tower roof
Just as I was about to leave, a cry went up, and we saw a young peregrine making a graceful descent from the tower. We assumed it was XK, our young female who was still on the platform and the last to leave. But she was still visible, and as the descending flight progressed, we realised it was XL, and that he wasn't going to make it. With unerring accuracy he headed straight for the centre of one of four huge lime trees right next to the Cathedral. Tumbling into the branches, he finally came to rest in good view of the road, and spent the next half hour or so recovering his dignity. Surrounded by so much vegetation, it seemed unlikely he would do no more than tumble to the ground. So we waited to carry out the inevitable rescue.

And waited. And waited. But finally he set off again, this time flying low across a nearby car park and landing at the base of a sloping rooftop, before scrambling his way to the top.  From there he made his way across a flat roof to the top of a wall at the rear of the Dolphin Pub. By now we had volunteers and passers by amassing on the other side of the road, next to the Old Silk Mill pub to watch him. But XL was in no hurry. More snoozing was in order. And we watched and waited for the next three hours.

We waited some more, but didn't feel we could remain there all evening. We had even resorted to reaching up from below with a long pole to wake him up and get him to move up higher. By 5pm, we felt we could stay with him no longer, so we left our details with the police foot patrols and with the staff at the two nearby pubs whose outdoor customers all had a perfect view of him. One of our regular visitors, Ian, also took our details and later that night it was a relief to get a text saying he'd seen XL high up on the power station next to the Museum of Making. He seemed safe for the night.

XL on top of a low roof by Full Street.
On Sunday morning he called again to say he'd now seen both juveniles on the roof of Jurys Inn, being fed by both parents. With female XK still in the next platform, we've spent the rest of Sunday expecting her to fledge, though at the time of writing (7pm) simply sleeping and chewing at the remains of old bird feet seemed to be her preferred options!


Over two hours of snoozing on top of a wall!


Here are some excellent photos taken by Dave Farmer (gdfotos.co.uk) from Saturday,showing one of the juveniles being fed high up on a rooftop and three photos of the female taking off from the camera at the left of the nest platform.
Further text will be added later but please see the comments on the previous post for the latest news up to 10am Sunday 29th. new comments should now be posted to this blog update if you will..






The Project team



Friday, 27 May 2022

Peregrine Rescue

(Update: Saturday am: Female XL left the nest at 06:45 this morning. Female XK remains on the platform as at 10am. One juvenile male seen on nearby Jurys Inn; location of other male fledgling still unknown. Watch Point on Cathedral Green this morning may yield more news, and possibly a third fledge.)




Our previous blog post explained how one of our young peregrines fledged earlier today, but couldn't be found. It was assumed he was somewhere safe on the nave roof, or a nearby building.

However, at 18:45 we took a call from one of the Cathedral volunteers who reported that a young peregrine was wandering across the road and was holding up traffic on nearby Full Street. Apparently, a passer-by had already grabbed it by its legs (not a sensible thing to do, of course) and had moved it to safety.  We advised not to attempt to capture him, just let him find a safe and quiet place until we got there. So we set off into town, ready with a large cardboard box and an old piece of towel, hoping to rescue and return him to the tower.

Luckily, the Cathedral was open late this evening to allow people to visit the wonderful display of hundreds upon hundreds of 'Peace Doves' hanging down from within the building. Meanwhile, we arrived to a scene or perfect tranquillity on Full Street. Young male (Orange ring XJ) was sitting calmly on a wall, with about half a dozen caring people keeping a discrete distance, helping to ensure it wasn't disturbed by anyone or anything.

We slowly approached with the box from behind, and the cloth from in front, and soon had him captive and calm.  We carried XJ up the stone spiral staircase and placed the box on the tower roof. Tilting it so he was slowly encouraged out, he simply stood forlornly and watched us warily.



The parents were by now circling the tower and calling. So, after the obligatory quick photos, we quietly left him on his own, knowing there was little more we could do for him, and that he'd probably be OK to fly tomorrow. We could see no obvious signs of injury (drooping wing etc) and no doubt he'll be brought food by one of the adults and he'll make his way to the tower parapet and fly off in due course.


There is little more that we can do for these wild birds - the parents will undoubtedly take an interest sooner or later, and he'll try to fly again later. Better luck next time! 





Out thanks to everyone who has helped locate and rescue XJ today. Should you encounter a downed peregrine in Derby in the next few days, don't attempt to capture it. Simply make sure it's able to stay in a quiet place, away from cars or people, and get someone to call in to the Cathedral - they have our contact numbers. Or reach out to us via Twitter at @derbyperegrines, or by leaving a comment on this blog. Unless obviously injured, we don't advice contacting the RSPCA helpline. The last time this happened, our bird ended up in Lincolnshire before we knew it, and it took quite a while to resolve the situation. We'd prefer to rescue and return it ourselves, or take it to a local vet if it needs treatment.

 

One fledges today 27 May

It seems that one of the three has fledged this morning and someone is going down to the Cathedral to check things out.
Most of the juveniles fledge successfully, landing on a roof somewhere nearby. Just occasionally they come to ground and have to be rescued and taken back to the top of the tower for a second attempt (which always has been successful in the past). Check the comments for the latest news/updates.
Wendy Bartter has just sent this video of the two remaining juvs being fed:


Meanwhile Dave Farmer of gdfotos.co.uk took these fine photos yesterday:










The Project Team

Thursday, 26 May 2022

Watch Point Update: (for 25th May)

This Watch Point report comes from on of our volunteers, Kathryn: 

We had around 70 people come along along to the Watch Point on Cathedral Green on Wednesday Amongst those who visited were a lovely school group, all of whom got a great view of the chicks through our telescopes. It's always nice to be able to introduce new, young faces to our peregrines, as well as to welcome those who have been watching our webcams for some time

There we all are: by the red arrow

One special visitor we were delighted to meet today was Mikeybee33 (we assume his name is Mikey - we forgot to ask!). He'd come all the way from California, and had made a special trip up from London to Derby just to see the peregrines. He told us he'd been watching our webcams for the last 10 years and was pleased to see them for real, and up close.  He also managed to take some pictures on his own phone, and it was lovely to be able to chat with him.

One satisfied visitor - all the way from California

"Taking photos through a bird scope with one’s phone is not as easy as I’d thought."

As to the birds themselves: Well, there was a lot of activity on the nest platform to be seen, with considerable movement back and forth across its length, and lots of wing action. With all their exercising, it looked as though the young peregrine falcons might leave at any moment, although they've all got a fair bit of white fluff still visible in places.

We reckon that by our next Watch Point on Saturday they may well be ready to fledge, so it'll  be a great chance for anyone who has not yet seen them up close to pop in to Derby and catch a glimpse of them if they're able.


NESTCAM 2 Issues: 

NESTCAM 2 UPDATE: We've been getting more and more reports of users with iPhone having difficulty viewing Nestcam2, whilst still being able to watch Nestcam 1. We spoke to our webcam hosting company today, and they inform us that latest version of the iOS Safari browser is no longer compatible with the encoded video format that comes from that camera. Meanwhile older iOS version seem not to encounter any difficulty.  (Different make cameras apparently have to be treated differently at their end, and they aim to create an script to solve this problem later this year)

RECOMMENDATION: Ideally, please use Chrome to view both the camera stream, or check if any other favourite browser, other than Safari, will work with them both. That said, we have been told other browsers still don't work for some people. Please leave a comment below if you're still not able to view them with other browsers, ensuring you tell us your device, its operating system version and which browsers don't work with it.