Thursday, 15 December 2022

XJ found dead at Cathedral

Sadly, one of last summer's chicks, with colour ring XJ, a male, has been found dead outside the cathedral.
There were no signs of any injury or disease so the corpse will be sent off for an x-ray, a post mortem and chemical analysis to try to discover the cause of death.
This chick came to ground soon after fledging and had to be returned to the top of the tower. 
It was probably the young bird seen begging food from its parent on the nest platform in October.

All photos were taken by Jessica Kilmurray to whom many thanks.
Jessica works for the Cathedral and was quickly on the scene, photographing and collecting the body and storing it in a cool place.
Getting PM results may take some time but we will update you when we hear anything.

Young peregrines have a fairly low survival rate, facing so many challenges once they have it is not unexpected to hear of one being found dead.
What is slightly unusual about this bird is that it has already got a yellow cere (at the bae of the beak) and a yellow eye ring which are features of adult birds rather than those in their first year......

The Project Team

Saturday, 15 October 2022

Huge mural close to the cathedral depicts our peregrines!

Ove the last week or so a huge mural has been taking shape on a wall between the Cathedral and the Silk Mill. Created by @faunagraphic artist Sarah Yates and instigated by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust as part of its campaign to make the city greener and wilder, the mural reminds everyone who sees it that urban wildlife can be fascinating as well as good for our urban wellbeing.
The Peregrine Project team has been pushing for something like this for years and now it has happened!
If you are in Derby anytime soon, do please go and have a look at it! And you can listen to an interview about it on BBC Radio Derby here; 
Andy Twigge - “It’s about inspiring people to notice the nature in our city” - BBC Sounds:

 The Project Team

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Webcam to broadcast bells rung to mark the Queen's funeral

(This tense of this post has been modified to refer to a past event.)

On Monday 19th September, Derby Cathedral's ancient bells were rung, fully muffled, from 10am to 11am, prior to the funeral of Her Majesty the Queen in London. 

Webcam watchers were able to see and and hear them on a special webcam, which we set up at short notice for the occasion. 

Later that Monday evening, from 5pm to 8pm, a full peal of the Cathedral's bells was attempted. It took the ringing team over three hours to complete and, once again, the bells were be muffled as a mark of respect for Her Late Majesty.

Cast in 1520 during the reign of Henry VIII, this Tenor bell was half-muffled.
It generated a respectful, loud tolling sound amongst all the other muffled peal of bells.

On both these occasions all bells, except for tenor,  were muffled, so as to create a tolling effect.  The tenor bell - had its clapper half-muffled - which created a single loud tolling ring on the backstroke. 

Looking onto the bells in their 'down' position

We worked late into the evening on Friday with Roger, one of the Cathedral ringers, and with Tim Unwin from Derby City Council to provide a way for everyone to both listen and to watch the bells ringing on the day of Her Majesty's funeral. Because of the incredible volume inside the bell tower, we found our camera's microphone suffered sound distortion, but this was rectified before Monday 19th by using an external microphone 


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

A minibus is available to take anyone wanting to go to HHF. For details please contact us at .

The Project Team
Ps There's a lovely nest cam on a pair of hobby's with small chicks in Dorset here:
Hobby (Falco subbuteo) LIVE nest camera, Dorset, UK, 2022 - YouTube 


Saturday, 11 June 2022

Gaining skills and a Watch point report...


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 ( ):

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 ( 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 ( 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