Thursday, 1 March 2007

Second Abseil

We had to make an unexpected second abseil earlier this week. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust were concerned that many of the old prey remains removed when we installed the cameras were tightly bound up in nylon fibres. They came from matting included in the original design of the platform, and there was concern that loose fibres could get wound around this year's nestlings. With just one good weather window scheduled for Monday, we took the opportunity to complete this and other tasks before it was simply too late in the season. These included:

  • Trim off and remove all fraying nylon fibres
  • Add more welsh slate to right side of platform to cover exposed nylon matting
  • Remove three old lapwing corpses from platform (leaving two still on the gargoyles)
  • Mount flexible anti-perching spikes to tops of both cameras (seems ironic)
  • Remove one of two supporting metal struts which was over-prominent in camera 1's view.
  • Paint wood stain on light-coloured timber under platform (to reduce visual appearance)
  • Test audio-video synchronisation of cameras and microphone.
This mugshot, taken by Nick Evans when we first fitted the cameras, shows the smaller of the two cameras, though it now looks more like a balding hedgehog with its array of bendy spikes on top! As before, we gave notice to the police and Derby Cathedral and carefully weighed up any risks of disturbance to the birds against the benefits. We needn't have worried. We were squawked at when we first went on the nave roof, but were otherwise left alone. By Tuesday morning one adult was sitting forlornly on the platform in the rain. On Wednesday afternoon we heard that three peregrines had been seen. A 5.30pm visit with the 'scope showed the adult male on the platform (smaller, darker head and bright yellow cere); the adult female on a gargoyle (larger, greyer - but had her back to me) AND presumably one of last year's juveniles perched half way in between (I assumed a male - smaller, darker head, pale cere). No ring was visible in the fading light, but we guess the the adults will soon be sending it packing.
Hurrah! The video server arrived yesterday, and we learnt that the BBC have taken delivery of a DVD recorder with hard drive - sufficient to record 300 hours continuous falcon footage. The recorder will go into the tower next week, and we're all looking forward to seeing what kind of pictures it can capture. What we really need now is the wireless bridge, kindly offered to us from Highways section of Derby City Council later this month, and to find out from Capita (our IT agency) what further kit we need to buy before the end of the financial year to finally get our pictures out onto the internet. I'm still worried about the aerial cabling - but more of that another time.

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