Saturday, 30 June 2007

Watch Point Roll Call and thanks

With the Watch Point now at an end for 2007, I would like to thank all the volunteers who have helped down on Cathedral Green since we began back in mid-May. My job of organising the rota has been made easy, having such a splendid team who so willingly have given up their time to stand for hours on end, helping visitors to see and learn about the falcons.

Here's the list of helpers and I trust I've not left anyone out! In no particular order, they were:

Brian & Margaret H, Celia H, Sue J, John B, Sue and John H, Allan H, Ian & Judith F, Lizz D, Margaret K, Steve & Ann R, Andy & Chris M, Dave R, John B, Malcolm H, Tony G, Nick M, Tony S, David P, Ian H and also Wildlife Trust staff Sarah D, Sarah S, Nell T and Philip P. Plus a further note of thanks to Andy and Barry, regular watchpoint attendees, for their help on many occasions.
I'll post a total of donations received early next week - there's still some to bank yet.

We've certainly had a very wide range of people visit us over the six weeks. Local people have predominated but we've also had visitors from all parts of the UK plus tourists from Italy, Spain, New Zealand and Holland, to name but a few. We've had people aged 2 to 90, people on crutches and in wheelchairs, people who have never seen (or in some cases never even heard of) peregrines before and others who have seen them all over the world.
Add these thousands to the web cammers and the TV, radio and newspaper audiences and we have already engaged with a huge number of people across the world, giving peregrine conservation wide coverage and also putting Derby firmly on the global map!
Keep the blog comments coming won't you? Tony G, Nick M and I have tried to answer your comments and questions but no doubt you'll have more yet....
In return we'll endeavour to keep you informed of any news of our falcon family. We just need some better weather don't we? It has rained all day today without ceasing! Perhaps Sunday will be better......

Nick B

Answers: Spot The Peregrine

Juvenile 002

How did you get on with our spot-the-bird challenge?

Here are the answers to where the four birds are. Once again, our thanks to local photographer, John Salloway, for his pictures. (Apologies for ther difficulty in laying images and text close together. You can see the original quiz photo here)

Juvenile 001

One juvenile on lower ledge of tower, very close to tree branches.

One juvenile bird on front left edge of nave roof.

Adult male peregrine in alcove

Male - in small alcove right at the top of the bell tower window. What looks like a nest is actually years and years of pigeon poo which has built up into a huge pile.

Adult female peregrine on tower top.

Female on top right "gargoyle"

Having done that, would anyone like to try out a peregrine hat to colour, cut out and wear?
Colour and cut out peregrine hat for the young at heart!
It's still under development, but if you email me at I'll add you to an email list and send you a more detailed pdf file to print onto A3 card than the jpeg you see here.
Or you can print to A4, then photocopy to A3. As a pdf file it's untested, so I'd welcome feedback on how it works out - and you could even email us photos of it being worn around the globe! British Columbia, Hong Kong and Derby - now, that would be good!

Friday, 29 June 2007

Withdrawal symptoms

Without wishing to encourage navigation away from this blog, but feeling sorry for those of you with severe withdrawal symptoms, try this Polish website at:
which has links to 39 webcams throughout Europe, nearly all set up on white stork nests.

My favourite however is Number 38 (see photo), the only web cam set up on a black stork nest in Estonia, a country still full of rich wildlife habitat. There is streaming video plus sound. The three chicks have grown fast since I last looked about 10 days ago when they were all white. The weather looked pretty awful this morning, as it was here (though this afternoon the sun has come out in Derby at last!).

What a contrast to our peregrine chicks! These youngsters have very long legs, sharp, pointed beaks and of course they are in a huge nest made of sticks and moss and built by their parents. Black storks are summer migrants to Europe and, with luck, these young will soon be flying south with their parents to winter in Africa, though they'll face numerous hazards along the way.
P.s. Whereas white storks nest close to (and usually on top of) human settlements as you will see, black storks are much rarer and very secretive birds. They nest deep in forests or in caves on cliffs, sites which are usually impossible to watching this nest is a real treat!
Enjoy it while you can!

On The Wing

This photo has been reduced in image quality from the original, copyright J Salloway. Click to enlarge.

Taken yesterday morning. this picture by John Salloway, shows Mum calling the girls who had both turned up on Derby Cathedral.
Dad also paid a visit to the nest platform for about 15 minutes before flying south. All this happened between 7:00-7:45am, local time.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Puzzle - Spot The Peregrine!

John Salloway thought some of our webcam and blog visitors might relish a challenge. So we've posted his recent picture of Derby Cathedral to see if you are up to it! There are four peregrines visible here - but can you find them all?

You'll need to click the image to enlarge the full 1.2Mb photo and look carefully - very carefully.

Click here to see Saturday evening's post showing four individual photos, taken just afterwards, which show their exact locations and we can find out how well you did at spotting or guessing. To make it more fun (and more of a challenge).
We've not the resources to offer a prize, but we could perhaps offer successful peregrine spotters a chance to abseil down the tower to clean out the nest tray later this winter!

But seriously, a number of you have asked about making donations to keep our project going next year: Nick Brown from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust has just posted details in the blog entry below this one.

And finally, here's an update from late yesterday, left by Andy and Chris M. in comments:

Bitterly cold in Derby this evening but when we arrived on the Cathedral Green at about 7.45pm both adults and 1 juvenile were perched at the top of the east face of the tower. Over the next quarter of an hour, the youngster flew a couple of laps around the Green landing quite well on the tower each time.The adult female flew off at about 8.00pm and after about half an hour of waiting, the second juvenile flew in from the west, lapped around the Silk Mill museum and landed on a gargoyle. Both juveniles are becoming much more confident both in the air and at landing!

Donations and the future of the Watchpoint and blog

This was originally posted as a comment but would have been better as a full post to ensure wider readership, so here it is again. If you have read the comment already, then please skip reading it all again here!
Having been away for a few days (bad timing on my part!), I went down to the Green yesterday to catch up. I was pleased to see both youngsters flying about quite confidently. When we left, both had returned to the gargoyles up above the nest site and were busy feeding.
Regarding the offers of donations, the simplest way (for people in the UK) is to send a cheque, made out to 'Derbyshire Wildlife Trust', to the DWT office at East Mill, Belper, Derbyshire, DE56 1XH with a covering note saying 'For the Peregrine Project'. Please indicate if you would like a thank you letter or not (our default is to send one if an address is provided). Regarding overseas wellwishers who want to donate (such as Jenny) please send an email address to saying what you wish to do and we will give you our bank account details etc.
We (the three partners) have covered most of this year's direct costs but still need considerable funds to develop the project further (eg the educational side) and also for new camera's and other IT equipment/leaflets etc for next season. If Nick at the museum needs to spend money on the project over and above that available to him via the council or from Capita UK, he either asks the Trust to buy it or he invoices us for it.
It is also possible to join the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust if you live in or near the county and we would urge you to do so. Please see the Trust website (a link to it is on the blog). If you live further away, why not join your own county wildlife trust? A full list of UK wildlife trusts plus contacts is available via the DWT website.
The Watch Point will continue only as far as this Saturday (30th) so now is an appropriate chance to say a big thanks to everyone who has helped out on Cathedral Green since we started back in mid-May. We have not counted the number of visitors we have had but it must be several 1000s! We would also like to thank everyone who put money in our donation boxes and we will post a final total when the watchpoint is finished.
As to the future of the blog, we were discussing earlier today how we might gently run it down over the next few months as news of the birds gets less frequent and (hopefully) less scary....those first few days in the air are very stressful for sure! More on this soon....

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Thank You.

I would like, on behalf of the team, to thank everyone from around the world for their support in what has become a superb project. Enormous thanks need to go to Nick for his continual hard work and commitment that has resulted in the rewards we have all enjoyed. It has been a hard and emotional time for all of us and we must ask you to forgive the occasional expression of personal feelings. For me it has been a privilege to work alongside both Nicks (Derby Museum and DWT)and I am looking forward to an even better season next year. Even so it is not over yet here in Derby - for those living in the area there is still the wonder of all the aerial displays while these chicks are taught all they will need to know to survive in the 'outside world'. Though probably unseen by the cameras there will still be a great deal to report over the coming months as there will be a great deal of 'behind the scenes' work by the project members to prepare for 2008. Keep up the support and help us become the best in the world!!!

Where Are They Now?

Juvenile doing a bird-of-paradise impersonation on a Derby roof. Photo I.Forrest
window inside Derby Cathedral Whilst the webcams will now be emptier, the skies over Derby will be made richer with the presence of our young birds as they learn the skills of their parents.

Our birds? We can never own them, of course. But we can watch and learn from them. It's in human hands that the future of so much of our wildlife now rests, and that's a responsibility we all shoulder. It’s been a privilege for those of us on the project team to have shared a flake of these young birds’ lives. (see also my recent comment.)

Rest assured that we will keep watching and reporting on their location and progress here. We know many photographers will continue to send in great pictures, like Ian's above. We've much more to share with you. Later, you may be interested to learn a little more about Derby and the partners in this project, so we'll post some special blog entries about them.

Lapwing at The Sanctuary with football ground behind. Photo S.Whitehead Meanwhile, if you live locally and would like a chance to visit another of Derby City's wildlife projects, there's a rare chance to go inside
Sanctuary Location Map  meet just inside car park entrance
The Sanctuary for a guided tour of Derby's first bird reserve. It's on Thursday evening 28th June from 7pm - 9pm. Meet inside the Park and Ride car park next to the County Football ground on Pride Park. Its free, and part of Derby City Partnership Week.

Manning the Watch Point today, it was clear that our two young birds are becoming stronger fliers, and so the rescue equipment has been retired. For a while before noon both birds settled on the roof of the nearby Silk Mill Museum. Then 002, who fledged yesterday flew, around the Green and tried to land on the side of the Cathedral Tower. This she failed to do, and fluttered down and then flew to the apex of the nave roof, giving us all great views.. Then Mum flew off, returning a while later with a large prey item which she plucked on top of the tower and eventually flew down with it to the roof. She returned soon after to her observation point, and the prey was eagerly eaten by the young falcon. Meanwhile 001 (that’s the ring number) remained on the Museum roof, perhaps idly watching the rising waters of the River Derwent in spate. The adult male was also keeping a careful watch on his charges from the Tower, and we left the Green confident that the recent terrible weather had not affected their chances of survival.
At 7.30pm Andy & Chris Marshall left a comment that both chicks were doing fine. One was sat high up on the cathedral on the next gargoyle to "dad" and the other was sat on top of the Silk Mill tower on the opposite side of Cathedral Green. "Mum" flew in past the Silk Mill calling to the chick before landing next to her mate.

Monday, 25 June 2007

They Did It.

At 13.35pm this afternoon, both birds finally took off, leaving the platform empty. No doubt they'll be back on it again, soon. (Click image to play 3 min 30 sec video)

At 13:45 I've was called to say it had landed on the Cathedral Roof - fingers crossed it can take off from there. I suspect it'll stay there for an hour or two - again, lets hope the weather stays dry.
At 16:00 I can report that both chicks are settled - one on the gargoyle ridge at the top of Derby Cathedral Tower on the west side. The newly fl;edged chick (dare we still call her that, now?) spent an hour on the roof of a shop on Irongate, just nearby. We had great views of a parent flying back with a pigeon, eventually landing on the platfrom after flying low over fledgling number 2. She stayed resolutely where she was on the roof. The rain then got harder and harder as I left. So now I'm off to process the video clips.
At 23.00 - I'm back from the pub after a meeting to discuss a different project: "The Flora of Derbyshire" which we've been working on for over 10 years! Great comments from everyone tonight - and a hint of sadness that the webcam side of things may be winding down. But we'll want to bring you news of all the action outside as our birds learn to be peregrines in the weeks ahead.
Some of you asked about the regional TV news clip. Until Tuesday evening you can find it 10 minutes in at this address:

Sorry - the video upload to Google has faled after 6 hours. Will try again - but the BBC TV clip does include the highlights I guess you've all been wanting to see.

The shots below were captured direct and live from the Cathedral's video server at 1:35 today, showing both camera images side by side.

13:29:28 seconds Two birds. 13:31:24 seconds  One bird left.
13:31:34seconds Then there were none.

Unmoderated Comments and Fledging Video

Detective Dan, Jelly, and an incredibly large snake plus our model peregrine at Sundays BBC Springwatch Festival With 4,200+ hits already today, I've turned off comment moderation on this blog. This means your feedback should now appear instantly, and keep everyone up-to-date on what's everybody else has been seeing. (That includes me, who still hasn't caught up fully with today's events. At our Springwatch Festival I had to follow on from Detective Dan and Jelly (the green puppet) from a UK BBC children's TV programme - a worryingly tough act to follow! Notice how our peregrine just snuck in a bit).

I agree with the comments posted by one of our stalwart Cathedral Green volunteers (for which many thanks from everyone) that I've not heard of any foot injury, and tend to agree with his remarks. Tomorrow I'll watch the live audio/video feed (which I know will make you jealous) but will also confirm that everything's OK.

I passed a DVD of the fledging moments to a BBC colleague I met at the Springwatch event today, so this may be shown on Monday or Tuesdays "East Midlands Today" regional news programme. (I'm afraid that won't even reach Wigan, let alone Hong Kong or British Columbia!)

The Derby Evening Telegraph also have John Salloway's excellent first flight picture for tomorrow's local Derby paper, and here's a picture taken by John earlier today of Our juvenile on a nearby roof, Sunday 24our fledged bird.Meanwhile, I've finally managed to post the fledging video sequence below. There are three short clips - the first showing our bird flopping down from the camera post after tickling the microphone a bit. Then a while later at 7:09am it took it's proper maiden flight, and finally the remaining female doing some good wing-flappnig, but not yet daring to leave.

Thanks to all the watchers, both on the Green and on the web, who are keeping all of us updated.
Latest News: It's 8am and it's forecast to continue raining hard all day - with risk of localised flooding in poarts of the UK (not nromal summer weather at all, in case you were wondering). I'd guess that our birds will stay where thay are most of the day, sheltering from the worst of the rain. The webcams are correctly displaying local time BST=British Summer Time.
It’s 12 noon in the UK now and the Cathedral’s mid-day chimes have just ceased. The sun has been shining in Derby for a while, but it’s breezy, and our birds are drying out. Both young birds are on the platform with one flapping up to land on the camera and microphone, then flopping back down again. I’ve assumed this is our returned fledgling; the other has been perched on the black metal strap, preening itself. I’m assuming this to be our un-fledged bird.

Saturday, 23 June 2007


First fledgling on the nave rook of the Cathedral Saturday 23rd. Click to enlarge. Photo J.Salloway.Latest news from our intrepid reporters!!

Having searched a wide area there is still no sight of the missing chick. There are, however, several enclosed courtyards around the cathedral area so she has probably gone to roost overnight. It is now 9.50pm local time and getting dark so I should think she is resting. The male was seen to take off a while ago and has not been seen since - probably just gone to the pub (you know what males are like!!!) Both the RSPCA and the Police are alert for a downed Peregrine so if she is found we will soon know. I should think she will reappear in the morning - more fingers crossed. We will, of course, keep you updated as and when we get more news.
Click to enlarge. Photo J Salloway.
Just to answer some viewers' questions: yes, our remaining chick has been fed by her parents today, so don't worry that she's been abandoned in any way. In recent days the chicks have had very long intervals without feeds. Reports are coming in on Sunday morning that our remaining chick disappeared from the tray around 4.40am local time, and returned some time later.

Update Sunday 9.00am
I have just received a telephone call to say that the 'missing' chick is alive and safely sitting on the dome of the Industrial Museum. All is well.

We'd urge you to read the comments posted by viewers - today they contain more information than our project team can otherwise update you with. Our apologies for any delay in comments being published - all comments currently have to be moderated before being visible - and we've all been a bit busy!

We have LIFT OFF (but see updates)

First flight picture, copyright J Salloway.
Eureka!!! At 6.40 this morning I could only see one bird but at 6.45 there were two, there is now just one (7.15). The video will be checked later on today to see if we have footage of this momentous event. For those in this time zone get yourselves to the Green to watch the excitement - for all others, especially Jennie in Hong Kong, get those Plane tickets!!!!!
Postscript: At 6pm local time we've uploaded a new video clip. It won't be viewable for an hour or two until it's been processed by YouTube - so please be patient. I've no idea of the quality, but there should be three clips - the first showing our bird flopping down from the camera post. Then a bit later at 7:09am it took it's proper maiden flight, and finally the remaining female doing some good wing-flappnig, but not yet daring to leave.
Post-postscript: Slight concern at Derby Cathedral at 8pm tonight. I've just received a call from Tony the Head Verger who, on arriving home, received a call from watchers on the Green. Our fledged chick had spent all day on the nave roof of the Cathedral, being watched by hundreds of passers-by. But late this evening she suddenly took off, (followed by our adult male some distance behind) flying very low towards the huge, walled electricity sub-station next to the Silk Mill Museum. Luckily the bird-watchers were recovering in the nearby Silk Mill Pub and have just headed out in all directions to look for her. We don't yet know where she is, but it's likely that is she finds a safe perch she'll spend the night there. There's no way we'd be allowed inside the sub-station to attempt a rescue, but we'll report back here with any more news later tonight. (It's now 8.15pm local time, and it gets dark around 10.30pm) Fingers crossed, everyone.
Note: I've removed the YouTube video as for some reason it has been rejected as being "too long" - this hasn't happened before with even larger file sizes. So I'll try again when I get a moment, and test it first!

Friday, 22 June 2007

Sunday Event: Springwatch Festival, Osmaston Park

Jelly from UK TV's Cbbebies giving a girl a hug. Jelly and her firend, Detective Dan, will be at Osmaston Park on Sunday. Photo courtesy of
The BBC Springwatch Festival will be held at Osmaston Park, Derby on Sunday 24th June from 11am-4pm. (Click here to download a programme 425kB) There will be lots and lots of things to see and do: Stands, making things, talks, BBC Bus, live birds of prey and owls, Jelly from Cbeebies (thanks to BBC Birmingham for permission to reproduce the pictures from their Festival earlier this month). What else? Try your hand at willow sculpture, bird and bat box making, parachute games, face painting, henna painting, juggling, pebble painting and much, much more.
Hope to see some of you there as one of us will be giving a short talk on the peregrine project .
To Jenni in Hong Kong: - sorry if you won't be able to make it at such short notice!

Wow! Big Audience; Big Screen; Big Wait

Wow, that's a Big Screen. Click image to enlarge.Wow!
Firstly, may I say how heartening it's been to read so many of your comments left on the last few blog entries. It's clear that many of you, like us, are on tenterhooks, wondering when the chicks will take flight. Will they; won't they? They certainly haven't yet.
It's been grey and wet in Derby for the last day or so, and set to get worse. Typical - we have a major Springwatch Festival at Osmaston Park in Derby on Sunday from 11am - 4pm, so now we've fingers crossed for good weather there, too.

And Wow!
Look at that screen! No, it's not a fake picture, it's Derby's newest piece of technology - a giant screen for broadcasting local and national events in our city's Market Place. It went live with our video stream yesterday, taking fast-moving pictures direct from Derby Cathedral's webcam - and quite a few heads were turning to make out what on earth it was showing. You know, of course.

The Big Screen's offical launch is next week, but they sneaked our birds in before they have their own offical launch party, high up in the skies over Derby.

And wow again!
This time, Barry, one of the regular peregrine watchers outside Derby Cathedral couldn't contain his excitement yesterday after seeing our female stoop at high speed in a 45 degree angle above the tower to take a bird. She missed her quarry, but her power and speed obviously impressed him greatly. Our birds rarely hunting right over people's heads in Derby city centre, so this was a lucky sighting, indeed.

And finally, wow! Over 155,000 visitors already. Earlier this season the project team members each bet on how many hits we'd have before the birds fledged. Last year, when we put our webcam plans together, I estimated 30,000 visitors overall. Later, my bet went up to 125,000. Wow - it's so good to lose sometimes.

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

First Flight?

Lots of wing flapping at 7.30am today. Click image to enlarge

It could be today - keep watching!
Post script (3pm local time) It's now quite windy in Derby today, so it seems unlikely they'll fledge today.
3.15pm: A full speed video stream of our two chicks is about to go live on Derby's brand new Big Screen! More news to follow.

Click to enlarge image

Sunday, 17 June 2007

On The Edge for a Fledge

Wing exercises Sunday 17th June 2007Well, it can’t be long before our two young peregrines take that giant leap into the unknown and attempt their first flight. There’s been lots of wing-flapping activity recently, and with each flap we see more white down flying into the air.
Only about four days ago we started seeing the birds tearing and swallowing their own food, so they’re certainly getting more independent.

OK, so when will they fledge, and what will happen?
Firstly, expect to see them standing confidently on the lip of the platform for long periods of time, like these three chicks from last year. Until Sunday, we'd only witnessed the odd foot being placed against it and withdrawn, but then they Three chicks in 2006 getting ready to fledge. We're all asking when fledging day will be this year!started standing on the edge. There will be lots more wing-flapping before one of them takes their first flight, and it could then be a further day or so before the second one leaves.

This is the dangerous time. Our two female chicks are larger than males would have been. Last year it was the male who left first, and who flew confidently and powerfully right from the start. But in 2006 both females managed to crash land on their first flights, with one having to be brought back and released on the top of the tower.
This year we’ve placed a “rescue kit” inside Derby Cathedral, comprising some stout gloves, a cardboard box and some rags – all just in case of disaster. The watchers on the Green below will see what happens, and alert us to any problems.

But when will they fly?
It’s hard to say exactly. We’ve suggested any time between 17th June – 20th June, and it now seems likely to be later than earlier. Do keep watching, wherever you are in the world. And fingers crossed!

Nick, Nick & Tony
Derby Museum, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust & Derby Cathedral

Saturday, 16 June 2007

Off to the pub!

We often joke with people when they ask where the male has disappeared to when he's not on duty at the nest by saying he's gone off to the men are wont to do!
Actually, just a mile away in Chaddesden there is a new public house which is called 'The Peregrine', as the photo shows. Last year, there was a competiton in the local paper about what this pub should be called and The Peregrine, named specifically after our birds, came top!

As it happened, we did take a quick look inside but couldn't see the male anywhere.......

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Welcome To "Springwatch" Viewers

33-day old Peregrine Falcon Chick on Derby Cathedral. Click image to enlargeWelcome to this blog if you've come as a result of Wednesday night's "Springwatch" programme on UK television, with Bill Oddie. And welcome if you haven't!

This blog gives you news and past video clips of the two peregrine chicks, high up on the side of Derby Cathedral. We're expecting them to fledge around the 17th-19th June, and if you're anywhere near Derby you'd be welcome to pop down between 10am-2pm, any day in good weather to watch the birds from outside the rear of Derby Cathedral.

- Follow the "Key Links" on the left side of this page to visit the two webcams. Both have infra-red illumination. The left camera can be controlled remotely for zoom and focus.

- There's general information about watching our birds on the Main Peregrine Project Page

- And even a page of Technical Information about how it all works.

The picture above was taken from our webcams at 18.45 this evening - and as you can see, the chicks are rapidly losing their white down, and their flight feathers are now well-developed.

Of course, Derby has much more wildlife to offer than just peregrine falcons. Glow worms are glowing right now each night within the city, whilst sand martins are nesting next door to Derby County's Football Ground at the city's first bird reserve at Pride Park. Here at The Sanctuary you can see lapwing, skylark, reed bunting and a host of other wildlife - but the Dartford Warbler that was here a couple of years ago still hasn't returned. Find out lots more about Derby's wildlife here, or visit us at The Springwatch Festival at Osmaston Park, Derby on 24th June (425kb download).
Our Museums and local Wildlife Trust are pretty good, too!
Hope to be back online tomorrow.

BBC TV "Springwatch" Tonight

The mediaeval tower of Derby Cathedral dates from around 1530, and is our city's grandest building. Click image to enlarge. We heard last night that the BBC TV's "Springwatch" programme will broadcast webcam film of our peregrines on national TV tonight. (BBC2 8-9pm Wednesday 13th).

But as with all things, it's never simple.
The clips were only likely to have been broadcast if they could get some exterior film of the Cathedral. Unfortunately they didn't have any, and it was far too late to get it from the our regional BBC TV station in Nottingham. So, for the last 12 hours, the peregrine project team have been frantically trying to send them over 200Mb of home video files (in .mpg and .avi format). Now this is not something you can email, so overnight we've had to build a special website just to upload the files to, in the hope they can be downloaded and viewed by the Springwatch Team later today. Obviously they needed to be assured it's of sufficient quality for broadcast, and, if it's not, our films would probably appeared on Autumnwatch instead.

But we received confirmation this morning that they would be used tonight, barring unforeseen circumstances. So, we'll all be glued to our TV sets this-evening!

Here's one of the clips we sent them, taken on Sunday 10th June.

Monday, 11 June 2007

I've Just Done a "Poo" on Mum; Do You Think She Noticed?

This clip clearly shows how peregrine chicks try to keep their nests clean(er) by doing a "projectile poo" away from the nest site. It's just too bad if Mum gets in my way!
Notice how, at the start of this clip, both parent and chick seem to synchronise their wing movements. This appears to be a not uncommon occurrence with peregrines. Double-click the image to play this YouTube video, which was recorded on 5th June 2007.

Spectator Sport

Apparently, on Saturday (9th), one of the peregrines visited Derbyshire County cricket ground nearby. During the luncheon interval, and watched by many spectators, it chased and caught a jackdaw! Thanks to the Derbyshire Ornithological Society's website for this
Jackdaws have been recorded as prey at Derby before, so the number of prey species still stands at 39.
The complete list is: teal, gadwall, mallard, tufted and ruddy ducks, golden plover, lapwing, woodcock, snipe, jack snipe, dunlin, redshank, knot, turnstone, bar tailed godwit, common tern, little grebe, water rail, quail, moorhen, jay, jackdaw, magpie, mistle thrush, redwing, fieldfare, blackbird, song thrush, starling, swift, waxwing, goldfinch, greenfinch, pied wagtail, robin, great spotted woodpecker, wood pigeon, collared dove and feral pigeon.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

'Scope for Enjoyment

Watching the watchers watching the birds. Click image to enlarge.There was plenty of scope for enjoying views of Derby Cathedral's Peregrines today. Some 200 people came down to Cathedral Green to use the telescopes at the Wildlife Trust's "Peregrine Watch Point". It was a pleasure to meet some of you there and to hear how much many of you have enjoyed seeing the webcams and checking out this blog. Both adult birds spent much of the day near each other on the gargoyle ledge at the top of the tower. This let everyone clearly see the considerable difference in sizes of the two birds. Meanwhile, down on the tray, both growing birds exercised their wings from time to time, causing small clouds of white down to flurry around in the air. It won't be long before they lose it all as it was clear how rapidly their flight feathers are developing .

It was helpful to have full streaming video and sound in the nearby Silk Mill Museum - this attracted new visitors, both to the Museum and our Watch Point.

(Oh, there's a temporary glitch on Camera 1 which we'll fix on Monday morning - our apologies for this.)

Saturday, 9 June 2007

Watchpoint news

Looking out of the cathedral at times today revealed a steady number of people enjoying both the view of the Peregrines and the warm weather. Reports are that the chicks are now big enough to see above the front edge of the tray and more than just a wing tip when they stretch. So now is the time to get over to Cathedral Green if you can and see these birds 'live'. Tomorrows' Watchpoint runs from 10.00 - 4.00, hope you can make it - we do accept apologies for absence from those living in a different time zone!!!!!

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Rat Video Now Added

See entry for June 5th to view a recently added video clip of a rat being fed to the chicks.

Sunday 10th June

Please note: if you have just arrived at this blog via the Springwatch link - welcome! We have twoPeregrine Watch Point 2007 peregrine chicks visible on live webcams right now: click on the word webcams in blue just to the left. Remember, we have two cameras so if there's nothing on the first one, click on the other one to see the chicks. To read lots of background, go back on the blog and read and see the whole story, including YouTube video clips with sound showing earlier stages of the peregrine nesting season here at Derby Cathedral. Our webcams are being watched around the globe and many viewers think our pictures and storylines are some of the best they have ever seen! Send us a comment if you agree!

This Sunday (10th) the Peregrine Watch Point on Cathedral Green will run all day to link up with other environmental events elsewhere around the city. So, if you live nearby, why not come down and meet the project team and the Wildlife Trust's volunteers and see the peregrines for real?

With a bit of luck, you should see one or both parents flying about and get a more complete idea of where they are nesting and what they do when they are away from the nest. We can also show you other wildlife in the area, from grey wagtails to harlequin ladybirds!

You could take time to admire the cathedral's fine mediaeval sandstone tower, search out the two 'green men' either side of the West door and look inside the cathedral itself. (If you come on a weekday, you can get light refreshments and a drink in the cafe at the award winning Cathedral Centre on Irongate and, maybe, buy a toy peregrine from their shop. I may not look that real, but boy do I sound good. Catch me in the Cathedral Shop on Irongate, Derby. £6.99 for me, or £12 for my big brotherThey come in two sizes and both make real peregrine calls when you squeeze them!)

Further information about the cathedral is on their website at

From the very beginning, the cathedral's staff have been most supportive of the project and none more so than Head Verger, Tony Grantham. Tony has become something of a peregrine addict, even coming back after a day's work to open doors, run up and down the tower's 189 steps and help with the ringing last week. His close-up photos of the chicks can be seen on the blog.

Maybe see you on Sunday......or just call by any day between 10-2pm, weather permitting.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Live Peregrine Video Stream now in Derby’s Silk Mill Museum

The gallery staff at The Silk Mill will be pleased to welcome you and show you the webcam pictures.Thanks to sponsorship from Capita IT Services, we've now got a computer monitor showing our peregrines in the front shop area of The Silk Mill – Derby’s Museum of Industry and History.

It's just 20 seconds away from Derby Cathedral, and so visitors to our Peregrine Watch points can now pop in to watch live streaming video of the birds and check on their progress. These pictures show all the action - and sound, too. Although we recognise that the Streamdays service that internet users currently see is very effective, the live video and audio really is something else. Why not pop in when nest platform activity is low and find out if our chicks are asleep, or just hiding from you!

It takes just a few moments to saunter over from the Peregrine Watch Point to The Silk Mill museum beside the River Derwent. Whilst you're there, why not look out for one of the Vickers-Vimy engines that powered the first trans-atlantic flight by Alcock and Brown in 1919? Derby is the design and manufacturing base for Rolls Royce aero-engines, and the Silk Mill has an impressive collection of engines, right up to the huge RB211 jet engines.
Of course, nothing equals the majesty of a falcon in flight, but sometimes man's efforts can be impressive, too! (Admission to all Derby's three museums is free.)

Tuesday, 5 June 2007


Adult female with a rat which she has just wrested from a chick in a 'tug-of-war'. Click image to enlargeA close check of the video footage of our "church mouse" now clearly shows it to be a rat; it has a long tail and a pointed snout. Its size and shape definitely rules out both mice and vole species.BBC Derby have taken the DVD footage to transfer to tape and will send it down to Devon for the BBC Springwatch series - now showing live every evening on UK prime time TV (8-9pm BBC2). We still don't know if they will use it, but it links in nicely with our forthcoming Peregrine Watch event on Sunday 10th June, being organised by Derbyshire Wildife Trust. Hope to see some of you there!

I repeat here the comments made by Nick Brown of DWT to the previous entry which gives useful information on peregrine's non-bird prey: "The peregrine 'bible' (Derek Ratcliffe's book referred to on June 1st) indicates that quite a wide range of mammals and other non-bird species has been recorded as occasional prey. While young rabbits are the most frequent, the list of mammals includes short tailed field voles, water voles, shrews, young hares, bats and even a hedgehog! In addition, frogs and fish have been taken. One peregrine even took a liking for chickens - presumably free range ones.....can't quite see a peregrine patronising Tesco's! Clearly, peregrines will eat whatever they can catch if the opportunity arises or if they are unable to catch their preferred food - which is certainly (flying) birds. Cases of scavenging have even been reported in winter. Ed Drewitt, the expert on the diet of urban peregrines in the UK, tells us that the only mammals recorded recently are rabbits, rats and squirrels and that their frequency is extremely low. "

If anyone sees unusual prey being brought to the platform, please leave a comment on one of the blogs - they all get seen before posting. I would suggest emailing me at - but this can sometimes take a while to reach its destination, and we need to know within three days if we are to recover important film footage.

Church Mouse Meets its Maker?

Adult female with small mammal. Photo courtesy of J.Salloway. Click to enlarge image.We received a second report on Sunday morning of a rodent on the peregrine's prey list. We've managed to edit and save a short video sequence, but technical problems mean we've not yet been able to get it on a DVD to analyse in detail. From this heavily cropped and enhanced portion of a photo taken at the time, it does have rather the look of a vole about it. But it will more than likely prove to be a young rat - they are certainly quite easy to find nearby, though we don't tend to think of peregrines as landing on the ground to take such prey. They obviously do. We hope to bring you a video clip or some stills in the next day or two.

Meanwhile, this account is based on John Salloway's observations as well as the video sequence itself. At 11:04 am on Sunday 3rd June the male lands just off-camera. He passes the rodent to the female, then leaves straight away. She held the mouse(?) for a while then took it to the Adult female takes prey from male in mid-air. Photo courtesy of J.Salloway. Click to enlarge imagechicks and ends up in a "tug-of-war" with it and one of the chicks before feeding it to them. Within an hour we saw the female circling at approx 200ft above the Cathedral Green calling. Then 30 seconds later the male seemed to come out of the sky from nowhere and gave a full bird to the female. (see photo below) He glided down and had a well deserved rest on the gargoyle. She flew east with the prey and didn't return until 20 minutes later.

Monday, 4 June 2007

Single parent family

The chicks are being left for quite long periods now. This is normal. They don't need brooding any more and can survive many hours without food.
Of course, our chicks have two parents bringing in food - not so in Dayton, Ohio! Since the mysterious disappearance of their female falcon in mid May, peregrine watchers have watched their male, known to be 17 years old, do a great job in feeding the chicks which he does every 2-3 hours apparently. The photo shows him with his offspring. Check him out at
Thanks to Jan in Dayton for the photo and the information.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Hitting the bigtime!

Earlier today we clocked up 100,000 hits since the cameras went live on 12th April.
This level of interest in our birds has surpassed our wildest expectations. Last week we featured in the top ten web cams worldwide as calculated by Earthcam - along with the Times Square web cam in New York - no mean achievement!
So, many thanks to everyone who has been logging on to watch the progress of our two chicks and special thanks to those of you who let us know where you are watching. Most of you are in the UK but as word spreads around the planet, we know we have many people logging on all over the USA, in Canada and Australia and in a few in other countries such as Hungary and France. If you are watching us somewhere else, do please let us know. A peregrine addict in Antarctica would be a first......
None of this would have happened without the tireless work of Nick Moyes at Derby Museum. Nick has been having a much needed (computer-free) break this week but he returns to receive a round of applause from everyone involved in the project - even if , for now, it is virtual and silent!
Graham Whitmore's photo shows the power and bulk of the female falcon taking off.
Ps. If you are new to this blog, scroll back to view YouTube video clips with audio of the 'early days' of nest scraping and 'e-chupping', egg laying and hatching....

Friday, 1 June 2007


Photo taken by Derby Cathedral's Head Verger, Tony Grantham, who has supported this project right from the very start. Thanks Tony.
Just one of the pictures taken today on the roof of Derby Cathedral during the ringing of the chicks. Isn't she adorable?

Thanks to all involved for a very successful evening

Well rung

A chick with its special orange 'Derbyshire' ring. This bird was one of two ringed on 1st June 2007 at Derby Cathedral, England
The ringing went well and we had a lovely evening to do it. Both chicks now have bright orange rings on their left legs numbered 001 and 002. They were both females - heavy and healthy chicks with very big feet.
While we were there, the female flew round the top of the tower, screaming at us. The male flew up very high and then disappeared!
Not long after we left the tower, the female came back and landed on the platform, looking all around her. There was a temporary problem with the cameras but all now seems to be working well again.
The photo shows the orange colour ring 001 on the left leg of the first chick to be ringed, with the duller metal ring on the right leg behind. The orange colour is unique to Derbyshire-ringed peregrines. The number on the colour ring identifies the individual.
Meanwhile the cathedral bell ringers were busy practicing at the same time, so altogether a busy and successful night of ringing! A special thanks to Martin for abseiling down and lowering the chicks to Ant on the nave roof, who then ringed them. Thanks to head verger Tony for opening all the doors and giving up his evening to help us.

Ringing the chicks - disruption likely

Ringing a chick from the 2006 brood

Please note that we will be ringing the two chicks this evening (June 1st). There will be some disruption to the web cam pictures for about an hour while the ringing is in progress. We will disable the cameras, otherwise viewers will see parts of the abseiler suddenly appearing on the platform and will probably start to panic, thinking there was an intruder!

The female will certainly fly about screaming at us. However, only minutes after the chicks have been replaced on the platform, she will return to brood them and life will return to normal.

The licenced ringers, are very experienced at this work. They have been ringing peregrines and other raptors for many years and what they will do tonight is quite routine for them.

More details about the chicks, what sex they are and the details of their rings will follow later.

Note that the photo shows one of LAST year's chicks being ringed.

Fine photo

Adult male Peregrine. Photo Courtesy of Graham Whitmore
This excellent photo of the male was taken a day or two ago by Graham Whitmore. It shows his smaller, more compact build, darker hood and much yellower eye ring and cere (the area at the base of the beak).
Peregrines spend a lot of time preening and grooming themselves and keeping their feet clean is a vital part of their daily ablutions.

Thanks Graham - keep 'em coming!

If you want to know more about peregrine biology, the 'bible' we all refer to is a book called simply The Peregrine Falcon, written by Derek Ratcliffe and published by T and AD Poyser in 1980 (revised in 1993). It is now out of print but second hand copies can be obtained eg via Ebay. But be warned -they aren't cheap!