Friday, 30 May 2008

For Schools

This year's Peregrine Project has really taken off!
Our hit counters have reached the quarter of a million mark; our chicks are developing nicely; our third camera and live a/v stream is proving very popular; and our DVD on The Peregrines of Derby Cathedral is selling well, and receiving great feedback.

With Watchpoints resumed again, it's good to be able to talk and to meet with so many different people - some of them old friends from the last two years. Cameras as well as telescopes have been in evidence, and this fantastic picture sent to us by Graham Whitmore was a multiple exposure taken on May 18th.

One area of our Project that we'd all like to see take off in the years ahead is the use of our webcams and videos clips in schools, especially those local to us in Derbyshire. The educational potential is, as yet, almost completely untapped. But there are both technical challenges and resource constraints.

For example, many of our peregrine video clips are widely available on YouTube. But schools are usually banned from YouTube, so we thought we'd try and post some video clips directly into this blog. It took an age to get it to succeed, and we hope the clip below is viewable by everyone. It shows our four rapidly growing chicks being fed last week.

Schools in Derby should all now be able to access this peregrine diary, as our "blog" was specially unblocked after we made a request last year to the Education IT people. We know that quite a few local schools do now watch our webcams on the classroom "whiteboard". We'd love to hear more from schools about how you use us, or your ideas on what you'd like us to do to help you use our resources in the future.

Frequently Asked Questions

Recently, the children in Red Class at Brigg Infant School near Alfreton, Derbyshire, told us they watched Derby's peregrines in class. They emailed in some questions and we thought we'd make our reply more widely available by posting it here:
How often do the chicks need to be fed?
Your class could try answer this question yourself by noting what time it is whenever the chicks are fed! I think they seem to be fed every couple of hours, but I've not actually timed it. As they grow their demand for food increases, and food left in the nest will get picked at whenever the chicks want it. [By checking our recordings today, we think the chicks now get fed every four to five hours]

How big do they grow?
In just six weeks they grow to the size of their parents, though are a browner colour. Adult Peregrine Falcons have a body length of 34–50 cm (13–20 in) and a wingspan of around 80–120 cm (31–47 in). Females are nearly 1/3 larger than the males.

Do the chicks squeak?
Yes, the chicks make a lot of squealing noises - even starting to make sounds just before hatching. You can now hear the chicks and the adults yourself on our live audio/video stream at or in some of our video clips (which sadly may not be viewable to schools on YouTube)

Where do the chicks go when they have flown the nest?
We don't know exactly. They stay with their parents until the autumn. They need to learn to fly and hunt, and the parent birds teach them these skills. Some of the young birds may move off around October time to find new places to live, though other chicks might stay around until the next breeding season. We put coloured and numbered rings on the legs of our chicks when they are very young precisely so we can track where they go to. We suspect they move off into other parts of the Midlands, and may start to make a nest of their own when around three years of age.

Do they have a favourite food?
Peregrines hunt and eat a very wide range of birds. There are clearly lots of pigeons around the city which we know they do take, but they regularly feed on a vast range of other species, too. We know that in Derby they've taken 40 different bird species, ranging from swifts to ducks, and even a rat! In winter time they seem to like taking some of our rather unusual birds, such as Golden Plover, Woodcock and Snipe which are probably trying to move under cover of darkness, but are able to be seen and caught because of the city's light pollution.

Do the chicks need to have a drink?
No, they get all the water they need from their food. In hot weather the parent bird shelters them from the direct sunlight so that they do not overheat or dry out.

How old do the birds get?
Peregrines can live for 10 years or more - longer if kept in captivity. The really risky time is in the first year when they haven't managed to learn all the skills they need in later life.

Can you tell if the chicks are male or female?
The chicks get ringed when still white and fluffy around 20 days old. The expert ringers can usually tell the sex of the chicks by their size when they ring them. But in 2008 one egg hatched out much later than the others, so that chick inevitably looks smaller, even though it could turn out to be a female. Because the females are so much bigger than male peregrines, it will be possible for all of us to work out what sex they are once we see the birds all together on the nest ledge, getting ready to fly. If one or more is smaller than the others, those are the males. You can see a picture of male and female juvenile birds on our project homepage at

Why can't we watch your video clips?
We're sorry you can't see our videos from school on YouTube. We will start to put some videos straight into this blog for you. Tell us if you can see them OK. We are just about to redo our DVD - The Peregrines of Derby Cathedral - with a much more detailed menu option aimed at schools. This will let your teachers go straight to sections they want to show you on peregrine courtship, mating, egg-laying and fledging.

Are there any online Peregrine Games?
Your class might lie to have a go at this online activity, set in the city of Prague in the Czech Republic

The Peregrine Project Team hope to build more resources for schools and students in the future. If you are a teacher do let us know what you'd like to see available on our site to help you in the classroom. Leave a comment here for the project team of drop an email via

Derbyshire Bird Cam Project
And to show what schools can do themselves, here's a fantastic project recently set up called the Derbyshire Schools Birdcam Project. It now has 18 local schools taking part and with blogs and bird box webcams in various county schools. It's well worth a visit.

New Web Page
We've recently added a new page to our Peregrine Project site. It shows a number of peregrine-related specimens in the collections at Derby Museums. We'd point out that all of them we collected early last century. Follow this link to view the new "Peregrines and Derby Museum" page

Finally, follow these links to:

Thursday, 29 May 2008

8th June Go Wild in Derby!

On Sunday 8th June, in Derby's Market Place, close to the cathedral, there will be all manner of local environmental groups with stalls promoting themselves and various activities and walks for adults and children. One of these stalls will be run by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.
Obviously we will be directing people down to the Watch Point on Cathedral Green to see the peregrines that day between 11 am and 4.30 pm, weather, if you live within reach, do come along.
In addition, there is a rare opportunity to climb the cathedral tower's 189 steps and see the fabulous view from the top (though you won't be able to see the nest or the birds because we cannot allow anyone to look over the East side where the nest is situated). You also get to see the ringing chamber and hear about the tower's history (it was finished in 1540!).
These tower tours are run by the cathedral and there is a charge of £2 per person (no children under 8 and you must be fit enough to climb the spiral staircase!).
If you would like to book on one of the three tower tours that day, then please ring the Trust in office hours on 01773 881188. The tours last about 30 minutes and they start at 12 noon, 12.45 and 1.30pm.
It is first come first served (max. number per tour is 13) - so get booking straight away!
Nick Brown (DWT)

Ps. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is also leading two wildlife and geology walks around the city centre that day, starting from the Market Place at 11.30am and 2.30pm. These walks are free of charge and last about an hour. To book contact the Trust on the number above.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Ringing feedback

Herewith the first photo's from last night's ringing of the chicks and further feedback and answers to questions posed in the comments.
The top photo shows Martin reaching across to grab the chicks and put them into the red rucksack in which they were lowered to the nave roof, where Ant ringed them.

First then, we seem to have one female and three males. Because of the windy conditions last night (to put it mildly) we carried out the ringing as quickly as we could and only visually checked the chicks leg sizes rather than measuring them. But the consensus was that there was only one female...her feet were much bigger and her tarsus much broader than the other three despite the difference in ages.
The close up below shows one of the males biting Ant as he was putting the ring on! Also see how the dark feather quills are appearing on its wings and tail.

Second: the female falcon flew round the tower calling loudly while ringing was taking place but this is normal. Only minutes after we left the tower and nave roof, the female was back on the platform with her chicks who were again huddled together in the corner of the nest trying to keep out of the wind! Incidentally, last year the male was nowhere to be seen while the ringing was taking place. At least this year he was flying about, albeit further off and silently.....

The four chicks were given orange/red colour rings numbered 03, 04, 05 and 07 (ring 06 broke and was not used).....01 and 02 were the numbers given to the two chicks in 2007 - the first year we put colour rings on...see the photo of 001 in the previous blog entry.
A big thanks to Martin and Ant for their services and skills and everyone else who helped us.

Nick B (DWT)

Follow these links to read how to watch our new live a/v stream

Monday, 26 May 2008

Interruption to pictures

Ringing taking place in 2006 - note the absence of webcameras in this shot The ringing of the chicks happened today from (17:47 to 18:45 local time), and there was an interruption to the service which normally lets you see and hear the birds while it took place. This meant the pictures were frozen for an hour or so.

Update: Ringing was successfully completed by 18:45 (with just one abseil rope getting a bit stuck for a while). The Streamdays image stream has now returned, though we still only have audio on the live stream. The parent bird returned to the nest platform immediately the ringers had left, which is what we would have expected.

So, what have we got? Well, a phone call from the tower has just reported that Ant and Martin (our two licenced ringers) believe we have three male peregrine chicks and one female.

As well as making the ringers feel less "under the spotlight", we were concerned that someone watching the web cams may not be aware that ringing was taking place (human arms and legs would suddenly appear at the platform) and could think there was an attempt to steal the chicks and panic and ring the police (though we have already given notice to Derbyshire police that ringing would be taking place today).

Now that ringing is complete we'll let you know in more detail how it went, and also post photos of the chicks as soon as we can....and at least the dangling prey item obscuring the view has been removed!

Ringed chcik in 2007The photo here shows one of the two 2007 chicks with its numbered colour ring. It also had a small metal ring on the more distant leg. The colour ring is big enough to read the number through a telescope but loose on the leg and in no way a hindrance to the bird. It means that, should this bird perch somewhere where someone can see the ring and read the number, eg on a building in say Nottingham, we will know where our Derby offspring are. Even if they can only see the (unique) colour, we will know it was a Derby-bred bird (peregrines colour ringed elsewhere have a different colour).

The metal ring is a standard ring which simply states 'contact Brit. Museum' and has a unique number such that if the bird is found injured or dead or is recaptured, its exact identity and origin will be known.

Colour rings do fall off sometimes, the colour fades and the number becomes difficult to read, so both rings are essential to maximise the information we can get back from these chicks in the future.

The British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) organises and supervises the ringing of wild birds in the UK. See their website for more about bird ringing in general. They are fully aware of what we do at Derby.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Sorting IT Out

Our four chicks have been strong enough to be able to move about the nest platform for the last few days, and now seem to have taken a liking to the right hand side. For this reason we've switched over from "multi-view" to giving a full-sized image from the right-hand camera.

If the weather allows the licenced ringers to abseil down in the next few days, we'll ask them to pick off the item that has been dangling in front of the lens for some time now and obscuring the view. The normally sheltered east face of the tower has been taking the wind and light rain full-on over the last few days, and from time to time it seems that these old prey remains have been blown off. But they soon come back into shot. If we do ring the chicks there may well be a break in the video feed.

Many of you have asked about our brand new live a/v stream, and why you're only getting sound, but no pictures. (And sometimes neither). I'm afraid that at this moment we have no answers for you. We do know that the new PC installed inside the Cathedral tower to encode the video has had a few problems in sending out the pictures to Media on demand who are genrously hosting it for us. The PC was set to reboot itself every day, but clearly this isn't quite doing the trick, so the IT experts at Capita will be looking into this for us just as soon as possible, as we'll report back when we can.

In the meantime, if you live locally, do come down to Full Street in Derby for the daily Peregrine Watchpoints - and after using the telescopes and chatting to the volunteers from the Wildlife Trust, why not go off and visit the Cathedral, one of our museums or do some shopping in the Cathedral Quarter?

Follow these links to:

Saturday, 24 May 2008

Come and see the birds for real! (new video clip added)

Daily Watch Points, organised by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, started in mid-May on a small part of Cathedral Green.
This photo shows happier times on the Green last year when we had lots of nice grass to spread ourselves on!
They will run everyday from between 11am and 1.30pm, weather permitting. Trust volunteers will have telescopes available for you to see the adult peregrines as they come in and out to feed the chicks. This is a free watch point, though donations towards this project will be gladly received!

By the afternoon viewing is not good since the nest is then in shadow and viewed against the sun.

You may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the white heads of the four chicks sticking up of the platform from time to time, though from below you'd be lucky to see this sequence we captured last week. Talk about putting your foot in it.
Yes, that was a whole foot and claws being swallowed there.

An introductory leaflet is available both at the watch points (and in the cathedral at other times) for people unfamiliar with the Peregrine Project. We get many casual passers-by curious to know what is going on and then agog when they see the birds up close and personal through the telescopes!

Please be aware that the Green is under re-development (it should have been finished by March but is still far from complete) and that there are road barriers and fencing making crossing Full Street to get to the watch point an even more risky problem than usual. The Silk Mill Museum is still open and has a live video stream of the peregrines available at their front desk.

Please remember that you can buy the excellent new DVD about "The Peregrines of Derby Cathedral" from either of Derby Museums' shops or the Cathedral shop for £12.99. If you need one posting to you, then just ring the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust on 01773 881188 in office hours.
If you haven't got one, you are missing out big time!
There is usually a live video stream available to watch and listen to just inside The Silk Mill museum, which is still open and accessible from the Green.

Note that the official watch point volunteers will have a signed identity card if you wish to see it.
If you have any comments about the watch points please send them to

Nick Brown (DWT)

Follow these links to read how to watch our new live a/v stream

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Of DVDs and little owls, and moving images

After resolving their server failure, our Streamdays image feed is now back again from early Monday morning . The brand new audio-video feed from Media on Demand is also back working again, and Capita are investigating the probable cause of that failure. But these glitches are inevitable, and we're grateful for the speedy response of the IT experts, and for everyone's patience and understanding.

Over the weekend whilst all our picture streams were unavailable (see "Technical Hitch"), some of us clearly began to suffer peregrine withdrawal symptoms. Others actually did some work for a change! But in case it happens again it's timely to reminder that the DVD -"The Peregrines of Derby Cathedral" - is still available if you haven't purchased one yet. We've just had an excellent 'review' from Chris Packham who features on the film. For those of you who don't know Chris' TV work, he's one of the UK's leading wildlife presenters, working mainly for the BBC.

He's just sent us this lovely comment:

"Its superb. The photography is lovely, the graphics great and the webcam images fantastic -the whole story, great mating and the early chicks are really nice too.
It's good to see a modern slant on it visually. Liked the talking heads and the whole story . Thank you for inviting me to contribute. Chris [Packham].

To find out how to get a copy scroll down to the blog entry for 2nd May; by post from DWT or call at either the Museum or cathedral shops in Derby during the week.

Meanwhile, hard on the heels of the super video clip of the peregrine with a jay (see previous blog entry), we have just received a photo from Tony at the cathedral showing the head of a little owl. This is a new prey species in Little owl head, found beneath the cathedral tower.Derby, though not nationally.

Tony's photo clearly shows the small yellow hooked beak as well as brown striped feathers from around the face. A bit gruesome perhaps but this is just the way peregrines are....predators.

Little owls are widespread in the Derbyshire countryside, delightful little birds but just one down in number since last week! Jay as prey. May 2008

Nick B (DWT)

Follow these links to:

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Technical hitch

On Saturday morning it appeared our picture stream had frozen. Then later on our brand new audio/video stream also disappeared. We're really sorry about this.

We think we've traced the first problem to our hosting company, Streamdays. Many of the webcams they power around the country also seem to have frozen around 22:50 UK time on Friday evening. We're confident they will fix this soon, as their past record on this has been excellent.

The new live audio/video feed from our latest sponsors, Media on Demand, was working brilliantly earlier on, but later started giving only audio, and then disappeared completely. This may have been due to high user demand after our first stream failed. Or something could have happened to break the connection when we re-booted all our equipment inside Derby Cathedral's ancient tower. (Thanks for doing this, Tony)

So until Monday at least it seems we will be without a video feed. Rest assured that our cameras and recording equipment are still working fine. The configuration of that feed will have to be left to the IT experts from Capita early next week as it's beyond the skill of our Project Team.

Meanwhile, here is a lovely video clip of the chicks being fed on 13th May,

And here's below is a jay (Garrulus glandarius) being quickly dispatched after being caught and brought to the tower earlier this week. Peregrines have a special notch on their bills with which they can sever the neck of their prey, and presumably other parts, too. We do see the last moments of the jay in this clip, but it's important to appreciate that these are hunters, and that the killing of prey does happen and is an essential part of their lives. (As is the feeding of the plucked prey to the cute chicks). As we write this, we hear word from Tony, the Head Verger at the Cathedral that the head of what might turn out to be a Little Owl has just been found below the tower. We'll keep you informed on this, too.

Technical hitches inevitably happen from time to time and we do try our very best to sort them out as soon as we can. It's unfortunate that we've had two failures at the same time.

We have had other problems with our pictures freezing during the year, and we may need to buy a new video server if it proves to be an equipment fault here. If you want to help us to do that, then please consider making a donation. The project takes both time and money to run and these are very limited despite the sponsors and donors we already have. To donate please email for details of how to get money to the project but please be aware your email will not be responded to until Monday.
Many thanks.
Nick B (DWT); Nick M (Derby Museum & Art Gallery)
PS. If you are a newcomer to this blog please scroll down and read the previous entries to discover the magic of the new streaming service and see other essential messages and news.

Friday, 16 May 2008

Derby Peregrines - full stream ahead!

Update: This is an archived post. Because of equipment problems at the Derby end, we were unable to maintain a live feed beyond 2008, and this posting has been edited to reflect this fact.

Viewers have often commented how wonderful it would be if everyone could watch and hear our peregrines live on the internet. During 2008 we were grateful to Media on Demand, who provided a live audio-visual stream from our peregrine falcon nest camera! Media on Demand are a leading provider of streaming media services in the UK, and they already webcast the meetings of Derby City Council.
We were grateful to them for coming on board as our latest supporting partner, and especially to their MD, Bryan, for his support and interest. We are sorry that our equipment and IT support at that time could not sustain this feed into subequent years, but this was through no fault of Media on Demand.
Here's looking at you, chick!

. . . With up to 6,000 visitors a day to our webcams, not everyone could watch at once. In fact the arrangement allowed a maximum of 50 users at one time, and each video stream is limited to a 10 minute period.

The streamed image was smaller than our static pictures so as to keep bandwidth consumption down to a sensible level. It was great hear the sounds of the chicks, their parents, the bells, and the background sounds of Derby city centre.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

Is History Repeating Itself?

Derby's female peregrine taken on 11 May 2008 by J Salloway.
Stories seem to be emerging from the US of high levels of fire retardant chemicals being found in the eggs of peregrine falcons, after samples were analysed from birds in San Jose, California. One can't help wondering how widespread this could turn out to be, or even if there could be a repeat of damage to top predators from the chemicals we casually put into the environment, just as there was through the use of DDT in the 1950s and 1960s. You can read more by following these links:

2008 article
2003 article

What's in your diet? A female peregrine feeds her four chicks whilst standing on the remains of an earlier meal - the legs of a moorhen. Either way, because of its position at the top of the food chain, the peregrine falcon could once again prove to be a valuable indicator of the state of our environment. The work of individual enthusiasts and ornithologists can be most useful in this task. Shown below is a "hatchtable" compiled by one peregrine enthusiast, Froona, in Holland which shows the nesting performance of peregrines in various parts of the Europe and North America. The four chicks that recently hatched in Columbus, Ohio are the only additions to add to these nest results for 2008. Interestingly, no eggs hatched there last year, so it's important never to rush to draw conclusions about breeding success without firm evidence, carefully collected and studied.

peregrine hatchtable - from Froona's blog - see below

History of a different sort should be made tomorrow morning when we can announce the next development in the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project. It's something we've been working on for some months now, and we hope it will bring more enjoyment and an even closer insight into the lives of our fantastic birds, here in Deby's city centre.

Meanwhile follow these links to:

Monday, 12 May 2008

More, hen?

A moorhen is fed to four six-day old chicksJudging by comments left, there have been some great feeds witnessed over the weekend. A couple of these on Monday have featured a rather large waterbird - a moorhen (Gallinula chloropus), probably taken from the River Derwent corridor which runs just past Cathedral Green. The picture below was captured at 10:00BST (local UK time)

A phone call this-morning to the construction company working on Cathedral Green confirmed that watchers in Derby are now able to access a small part of the "hard-standing" to use telescopes and so forth without blocking the pedestrian walkway along Full Street. The recent warm weather in the UK (up to 30C yesterday) had prevented part of the new surface from hardening properly. We're sorry we misled people who expected more space late last week.

The heat has also posed a challenge for our peregrine parents. Preventing the chicks from overheating in direct sunlight is an absolute priority, as they can easily die if left unprotected for any length of time. We see Mum adopting a strange pose slightly away from the chicks so they are both sheltered from the sun but still with a ventilation gap so that she herself doesn't overheat them. By mid-day the problem has disappeared as the sun will have moved round the tower, creating sufficient shade.

One chicks goes on a short walk-about
One of our chicks started moving around the platform today - perhaps others have witness this already, but it was a new event to me. Once we get lots of movement we may switch over the camera feeds.

Just a reminder that, whilst you can hear sound on our video clips, there is no audio on the Streamdays webcam feed itself as these are static images. I'm afraid this is something that would only be available with live video-streaming.

(Finally, in case some readers may have pondered the significance of the title of this blog entry, I should explain that "hen" is used in some parts of Britain as a term of endearment, often by an older person to a younger woman. I apologise for my awful sense of humour!)

Follow these links to:

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Video Clips from 2008

Derby on Saturday - so many great pictures from our webcams have been posted on Froona's blog over in Holland, that we need do no more than refer you to the latest entry by this peregrine expert, entitled "Derby on Saturday" The pictures below are from a great feed on Friday, watched by many people at 15:45 local time (BST).

Because our 24hr recording equipment is inside the Cathedral Tower, we can't bring you full video clips until sometime next week.

Here is a compilation of all the 2008 videos shown here so far. We'll add to this page during the season.

Video Mating 1 March 12 2008
Video Mating 2 March 12 2008
Video Courtship & Nest Scraping circa March 22
Video Courtship & Ee-chupping circa March 26
Video Is egg-laying near? circa March 26
Video First egg laid circa March 26
Video Mating Yet Again March 29 2008
Video Egg-laying moment April 04 2008
Video Two chicks revealed May 04 2008
Video Three chicks revealed May 05 2008
Video Feeding three chicks May 05 2008
Video The Moment of Hatching May 07 2008
Video Four chicks feeding May 08 2008

Follow these links to:

Thursday, 8 May 2008

Fourth Chick -flicks

Here are two video clips captured on DVD. Click each image to play from YouTube.

The first shows the moment of hatching at 20:00 local time yesterday evening, accompanied by the 8pm bells of Derby Cathedral.

The second clip shows their second feed, filmed at 10:44 local time this morning. They did also have an earlier fed in darkness at 03:55am.

We are all clearly delighted by the news that all four eggs have now hatched. It may seem that our small, new arrival loses out in the feeding process, but generally once the larger chicks are fed they fall asleep, so letting the smaller one have a chance.

We're pleased to be able to report that the City Council and the contractors on Cathedral Green are on schedule for giving visitors to Derby an area of safe space for viewing the peregrines. This is being done today, and we should have some space available on Friday, although please be prepared for this area to move around over the next few days, but they are trying to accommodate us all as best as they can. As always, please be alert for traffic whilst crossing Full Street.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Scheduled Down-time (and a fourth chick!)

STOP-PRESS We now have four chicks - news broke last night, and we've been chasing that elusive photo ever since. The left-hand picture was taken around 20:30 on WeImage supplied by Veronica in Cornwall, taken at 08.30BST 8th Maydnesday evening, showing a freshly opened shell. The right hand picture was sent in by a viewer at 08:30 on Thursday morning. The night-time picture was taken around midnight when Mum left suddenly.

Froona's blog over in Holland has a slide show of the fourth egg pipping and cracking on Wednesday evening. This is amazing news as I think most of us had assumed this last egg was not going to prove to be viable, just as two eggs last year failed to hatch.

There will be a break of approximately two hours in both webcam feeds on Thursday 8th May because Capita need to make certain changes to the configuration of our equipment inside the Cathedral Tower. The break will occur sometime between 10.30 - 14.30 local time tomorrow, and will involve the removal of a computer and the re-configuration of our wireless bridge which connects us to the internet by radio. This will make our set-up more sturdy, capable of automatically restarting after a power failure. A lightning surge protector will also be fitted at the same time, and the system configured in readiness for further webcam developments which we'd like to keep under wraps until everything else is resolved. Capita is the Derby City Council's IT support organisation, and they have generously agreed to sponsor our project by supplying the technical expertise we need to send our webcam pictures out through the Council's networks.

Meanwhile, as you can see, it's still only possible to view the peregrines from outside Derby Cathedral from a narrow strip of pedestrian walkway beside Cathedral Green. Until this safe area is extended (which we hope will happen soon) please ensure you don't block the passage of the small minority of Derby people who don't want to stop and look at our amazing birds!

Now that our three chicks have hatched, the Wildlife Trust will soon be turning their attentions to organising the series of Watchpoints which were so successful last year.

Follow these links to:

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Video Highlights

We shall have our work cut-out during our lunchtimes for the next few weeks, going up and down the Cathedral Tower to capture video clips. Our thanks to everyone who reported the times of key activity moments. This helped a lot.

Here are just three of many sequences captured on our DVD recorder. Click each image to play the embedded YouTube video.

First is a changeover revealing two chicks at 19:40 local time on May 4th.

Below is a clip of Mum leaving the nest platform for a few moments to give our first glimpse of three chicks at midday on 5th May, accompanied by the lunchtime bells of Derby Cathedral.

Finally, here's a tender feeding sequence, filmed at 20:15 on 5th May.

Note: Over the next few weeks if you think what you've witnessed on our webcams is a really extra-special moment that stands out above all the rest, and so worthy of capturing on video, do please tell us. Feel free to leave a comment, telling us what you've witnessed and why it seemed of great interest. If you tell us the UK local time it happened (this is visible on each webcam picture), it helps us find the right moment on our 24hour recording.

Because of the popularity of our webcams (6,500 visits today/25,000 pageloads), could we invite viewers to close their browsers when they've finsished viewing the web camera pages? This reduces the strain on the Streamdays servers - and I'm indebted to the guys there for sending out quick alerts to us whenever our own video server freezes.

Monday, 5 May 2008

And Then There Were Three!

Three chicks have now hatched - just like in 2006, which was the first year our peregrines nested on the side of Derby Cathedral's Tower. The pictures below were taken at noon today, after Mum had sat on the chicks and eggs for so long that I suspect many of us thought we'd never get any work done. But a brief departure by the adult, followed by the male's arrival gave us the evidence we needed.

STOP PRESS: Someone over in Holland is doing an absolutely brilliant job of presenting our pictures in slideshow form! After viewing the pictures below, do please nip over to Froona's blog where she has built a special page containing over 100 pictures of today's feeding highlights from Derby (Are we jealous? Only slightly, but mostly grateful) We'll aim to bring you some video clips of this weekend's special events in the next 24 hours.

A few minutes later a brief moment of feeding allowed us to capture this lovely close-up of our three new arrivals, before Mum returned to brood them and they were once again hidden from view.

Thanks to Veronica B. in Cornwall, we have a picture of the third chick taken around 09:53 this morning, showing the very wet new arrival. As with all our pictures, click to enlarge.

Webcam pages:
Because little is happening on the far side of the nest platform right now, I've changed our second webcam page to show just the tower camera, where we should be seeing the male on guard and preparing food for the chicks below. I hope this full sized picture meets with most people's approval, but we'll return to the multi-feed view in due course.

Follow these links to:

  • read an overview of the peregrine project,

  • add your name to our mailing list

  • find out about the brand new DVD: "The Peregrines of Derby Cathedral")

  • see many more pictures on Froona's very detailed blog over in Holland (both from our webcams and from many others around the world)
  • Sunday, 4 May 2008

    Second Peregrine Chick Hatches

    It comes to something when you have to send viewers over to Holland to see pictures of our second chick hatching!!!

    But earlier on we could do no better than to refer you to the latest entry of Froona's Blog who, like many thousands of you today, is clearly keeping a close eye on events on the ancient tower of Derby Cathedral. The second chick appeared sometime around 17:30 BST (local UK time) - so we're now doing as well as we were this time last year when we also had two chicks and two eggs that never made it.
    Eventually we managed to capture the series of pictures below which were taken at a changeover around 19:30 local time this eveningDad.
    Mum and Dad
    Mum and two chicks
    Mum and two chicks
    Mum settling down to broodEarlier today we were sent a picture of Mum and Dad changing over with junior No 1 surrounded by his/her future brothers or sisters. Sorry I can't credit the person who kindly emailed this in - I'm afraid I had to delete the huge email as it blocked up my Inbox, and then I realised I had no name to thank. Thanks also to Chris and David who also sent shots this evening of the changeover above.
    Once again please: NO PICTURES OVER 100Kb! At some point I fear my email system may block up, and I can do nothing until we return to work on Tuesday.
    (Follow these links to read an overview of the peregrine project, to add your name to our mailing list, or find out about purchasing the brand new DVD: "The Peregrines of Derby Cathedral")

    First Hatch - more pictures

    The previous two entries brought news of our first hatching today.
    Here are some more images and links to pictures
    1) Webcam addicts and peregrine fan, Froona, over in Holland has added many pictures to her very detailed blog which compares the activities of peregrine nests around the northern hemisphere. Try this page for some great feeding shots of our birds, captured today.

    2) Anonymous posted some other other pictures here

    3) Meanwhile, shown below are a few images that our project team captured direct from the video server around noon today. Particularly amusing was the moment when Mum dragged the food over towards her new arrival, only to appear to clonk it one its head with such a huge first meal!

    Some of you have seen a second egg whith a small hole (pip) in it, so it's likely that we'll see at least one more new arrival today.

    First Hatch!

    Our first egg has pipped. Click image to enlarge. Whilst our new Peregrine DVD has only just hatched, another hatching has also just happened, too! A number of viewers have commented that Mum had been very unsettled on her eggs for the last 24 hours, and at half past midnight today we got a lucky glimpse when she left the nest for two minutes. There was just enough time to log on to our video server inside the Cathedral and to zoom the camera right in. It's clear that one of our egFeeding captured at 12 noon 4 May 2008gs had a small hole (pip) in it. Watching the live video stream at around 3 frames per second, I thought I could make out a very slight movement from within, too. Unfortunately the microphone was not working on the live feed, so I had no sound to listen to, but Mum has undoubtedly been agitated by the calls of the young chicks within for some time. By 05:50am I managed to capture this first picture, clearly showing the back end of a chick. It's too early to say if more thFirst sign of a one has hatched, but viewers will undoubtedly tell us more by leaving comments (by clicking the "comments" feature below this entry )

    Over in Holland, Froona's blog contains a very detailed account of the hatching process, and she suggests it can take around 12 hours from pipping to hatching.