Thursday, 31 December 2009

Video Clips

Here are all the video clips from one entire year in chronological order.
They are a mixture of YouTube and Blogger-embedded video clips.

3rd Feb 2009 Adult peregrine arrives on sunrise (07:30am) to reinforce its claim to its nest site during one of the coldest winters in Britain for 15 years.

4th Feb 2009 An adult peregrine pulls prey item out from the snow on the nest platform, with its mate on the ledge below.

19th February 2009 Platform maintenance work to give juvenile birds a better grip on the nest ledge whilst exercising their wings prior to fledging.

27th February 2009 Courtship activity (Food exchange and ee-chupping)

8 March 2009. Mating Sequence (1 )

16 March 2009 Mating Sequences (2)

16 March 2009 Mating Sequences (3)

7th April 2009 Male at night on top of tower

22nd April 2009 Changeover on Nest - female takes over from the male

29th April 2009 Stop-motion video of female nibbling empty eggshell.

29th April 2009 18:45pm First glimpse of first egg hatching. We then see Mum nibbling at the free eggshell. Turn up the sound to hear the faint call of the young chick.

1 May 2009 An hour in the life of a peregrine, compressed into 75 seconds as a new Jury's Inn nears completion in Derby city centre. (watch for the crane driver!)

1 May 2009 Chick no 4 hatches.

2nd May 2009 Chicks being fed - they are between 1 and 3 days old

5th May 2009 Chicks being fed - now clearly able to support themselves

20th May 2009 Ringing (banding) the four pergrine chicks

5th June 2009 Chick demonstrates an unusual way to do a poo. Feathers fly as the young birds exercise their wings.

9th June 2009 The first departure of a juvenile in 2009 was clearly an accident!

9th June 2009 Fledging activity

18th June 2009 A juvenile female pushes the adult male out of the way on top of Derby Cathedral's Tower (with apologies for the poor sound quality on this clip)

Follow this link for video clips from 2007

Follow this link to view all our YouTube video clips from past seasons too.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

A good read

Minor update: Happy New Year! ( We've reset our visit counter to zero.)

We've mentioned a few books on this blog over the years but possibly not J A Baker's classic, The Peregrine, first published by Penguin back in 1967 and reprinted many times since then.
Writing prose which is still regarded as probably the best to describe a wild bird and the habitat in which it was found, Baker became fascinated by the peregrines that wintered along the Essex coast where he lived.
Baker was neither a bird expert nor a professional writer, yet his book captures the essence of the countryside around him. He writes:
"I came late to the love of birds. For years I saw them only as a tremor at the edge of vision. They know suffering and joy in simple states not possible to us. Their lives quicken and warm to a pulse our hearts can never reach. They race to oblivion. They are old before we have finished growing."

Having just seen his first peregrine he writes:
"I have seen many since then, but none has excelled it for speed and fire of spirit. For ten years I spent all my winters searching for that restless brilliance, for the sudden passion and violence that peregrines flush from the sky. For ten years I have been looking upwards for that cloud-biting anchor shape, that crossbow flinging through
the air. "
Of course, the 1960s were the years when peregrine numbers plummeted due to the pesticide residues that accumulated in their bodies. This decline eventually brought an end to Baker's birds and his joy in watching them. He wrote:
"For ten years I followed the peregrine. I was possessed by it. It was a grail to me. Now it has gone. The long pursuit is over. Few peregrines are left, there will be fewer, they may not survive. Many die on their backs, clutching insanely at the sky in their last convulsions, withered and burnt away by the filthy, insidious poison of farm chemicals."

Baker went on to write one or two more natural history books. Perhaps he lived long enough to see his birds return to their former haunts. I hope so.

His book should be available in libraries, in some shops and doubtless on line too.
Nick B (DWT)

Friday, 11 December 2009

A different bird for Christmas? (updated)

Woodcock corpse blocking tower-cam in late NovemberWoodcock, Golden Plover, Blackbird and Redwing are all fair game this Christmas, it seems. Whilst many of us in the UK are planning to tuck into a turkey meal on the 25th, Derby's Peregrine Falcons have a more exotic menu lined up.

Various remains including the head of a Golden Plover

Derby Cathedral Tower is the second highest church tower in England, and a recent visit at the start of December to remove an object blocking one of our cameras revealed a wide selection of prey items are being taken this winter. Many of them are unusual species that most people would not expect to see in our city centre at all.

We know that our tower camera was blocked by the remains of a large Woodcock, as you can see above. We also have this bird on film, being brought back in darkness at 7.30pm in late November. We saw it's final death throes, so we know it was not brought in from a stockpile on a ledge elsewhere. Clearly, these peregrines are taking birds that are reluctant to fly in daylight and feel it is safe to move along our river corridors after dark.
It might also be worth drawing your attention to the tail feathers on the Woodcock. These have bright white tips to their undersides, making them very distinctive indeed. (A headless corpse and some feathers were recently handed in by AndyS. Thanks to this key identification clue, provided by NickB , these feathers and corpse also turned out to be Woodcock.)

Blackbird is one of the less frequently taken birds at Derby Cathedral
So what else did we find? Well, NickB will probably have a close look at all the images taken on 1st December 2009, and we'll report back. Meanwhile, I think the prey list will probably end up look something like this (deep breath; all together now!):
  • Four Golden Plover
  • Three Woodcock corpses
  • Two lovely Snipe
  • One gorgeous Redwing
  • and a Black-bird on the north side.

A pleasant Christmas to all our friends and blog readers around the world from:
Nick Moyes, Nick Brown, Tony Grantham
(Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project Team)
Update 1: A woodcock was seen being brought back to the tower around 10.45pm on Dec 20th, and is still there at the time of this update (21st Dec). It has caused some alarm as some viewers had wondered if it might been one of our peregrines. Rest assured: they're OK.
Update 2: Below each post you'll now see a "Share" Icon. This lets you tell your friends about the content of this post via your choice of services, like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Delicious, etc. More on this in the New Year.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

The more the merrier.....update

This morning both adults and one of the juveniles were all together on the Jurys Inn sign in Derby that faces east towards Nottingham - sitting out of the prevailing wind......
Apologies for the picture quality!

The juvenile is bottom left, the tiercel (male) top left, and the falcon (female) bottom right.

Nick B (DWT)

Ps It occurs to me subsequently that they won't perch there after dark when the JI signs are so brightly perhaps it's not surprising they are back on the tower in the evening as reported by several commentators...

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

From Sokół wędrowny to Hebog Tramor

Peregrine falcon eye - from an image of a juvenile by John Salloway

Wherever you live on this earth - whatever language you speak - welcome to our peregrine falcon blog.
If English is not your main language, you can now translate any page of this diary. Just look for the Google Translation tool on the top left-hand side of this page.*

During the busiest part of the 2009 peregrine breeding season we know that nearly 10,000 readers a week came to learn more about events on the peregrine nest platform on Derby Cathedral's stone tower. Even now this blog still receives almost 1,000 visits each week, whilst the webcams themselves get around 500 visits a day.
The map below shows the typical spread of blog readers around our planet. It's good to see some of you appearing nearly every week on these maps. The more distant you are from Derby, the more your little red dot stands out. It may be invidious to name names, but "Jennie in Hong Kong" and "Ann (Canada)" are just two of a number of regular readers and commenters who have managed to make the long journey to the City of Derby to see our birds in person.
It's hard for us to really understand how effective our family of peregrine falcons actually is at bringing people to Derby, though we know many of you have made the trip, often combining it with a chance to go shopping. So if your visit or stay in Derby is prompted by our birds, do please make a point of telling your hotel/taxi driver/shop assistant/tourism officer or restaurant exactly why you've come. Or tell us about your visit by emailing
Sometimes those little red spots on the map are easier to notice than real visitors in the street! Follow this link for more on Derby tourist infomation.

We've long been intrigued by regular visits from someone near Honolulu in Hawaii, and possibly from Cook Island or some other seemingly remote spot in the South Pacific. You guys appear nearly every week, so welcome, whoever you are.
Of course, Peregrine Falcon is Falco peregrinus in any language, because scientists use one internationally agreed name. But if you've ever wondered what other common names are given to peregrines around the planet, here are just a few we've found.
  • Sokół wędrowny
  • Wanderfalke
  • Vandrefalk
  • Faucon pèlerin
  • Halcón peregrino
  • Falco pellegrino
  • Slechtvalk
  • Bayağı doğan
  • Halcón peregrino
  • Πετρίτης
  • Sokol stěhovavý
  • Сокол скитник
  • Hebog Tramor

I wonder how long it will take someone to list which language is which!

*Update: Google's Translatoin Tool does seem to work with old browsers like Internet Explorer 6.0, but not with early versions of Firefox (eg version 2.0). You may need to upgrade your browser to use this tool.

Monday, 9 November 2009

The Jury's In.....

(Updated 10 Nov) Yesterday morning was fine and bright in Derby - if cold. Winter has arrived as you can see from the lack of leaves on the trees. Gulls were flying from their overnight roosts to feed along the river and perhaps in fields beyond the city's boundaries. A grey wagtail flew by and I heard the calls of a mistle thrush too.

Both adults were on the cathedral tower. The male was on the platform. While I was looking for prey remains he made the 'ee-chup' call above my head. I looked up and saw him glide from the platform, circle round and then fly over to the new hotel where he proceeded to sit on the Y of Jurys....just as Joyce S of Derby had also reported. I've also seen the female again on St Mary's, the roman catholic church, so it seems our Church of England birds are sampling both catholicism and now mammon....

There was not much in the way of prey remains - just a few snipe, lapwing and various thrush feathers.

The project team had a useful meeting with the hotel manager last week, discussing various ways in which the hotel might help the project next year. The birds themselves clearly haven't waited for a meeting- they've taken advantage of its presence already!
Nick B (DWT)

Postscript: The video below was taken in May 2009 as Jurys Inn, Derby, was nearing completion. It compresses 90 minutes down into 75 seconds, and shows our adult falcon looking out over the hustle and bustle of city life below. (Warning: Don't play the audio too loud!!)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Praise from London; Film from Italy

The newly formed London Peregrine Partnership has an excellent website, well worth a browse. In particular, go to their 'Peregrines on the web' page where they say (completely unprompted):

"The Derby Cathedral site is by far the best in the UK, with regular updates, good notes and some excellent pictures."

Obviously we knew this anyway but it great when someone else 'in the business', so to speak, thinks so too!
Well done that man at the museum - you all know who he is! What a star!

Herewith also the photo of the church in Exeter where peregrines have nested for many years and which was the stimulus for setting up our cameras back in 2006/7. You can't see the nest site with the cameras trained on it because it's round the other side of the base of the spire - and anyway, the annoying peregrines have decided to nest inside a window completely out of view both from cameras or the ground!

Update: Our own web cams are down at the moment, as you probably know. We now know where the fault lies, and are waiting for an engineer to arrange to visit the Cathedral to repair the wireless link connecting us to The Silk Mill museum. Please bear with us.
Meanwhile here is a lovely YouTube video made by Paulo Taranto of the life of urban peregrines in Bologna, Italy. (Watch for the zoom shot with the policeman)

Nick B (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Brief flirt with catholicism?

( Update 2nd Nov. We are aware of a power failure affecting our webcams today. We will try and restart our equipment over the next 24 hours)

The peregrines have switched to their usual winter diet already. This morning I found three redwing heads and one of a fieldfare below the tower, as well as a common snipe's beak. As you can see, most of its skull has gone - the brains are rich in protein.
Redwings and fieldfares are absent from Derbyshire in summer, returning here from Scandinavia each winter, some never to return of course.

I also saw a peregrine (the falcon) perched on the tower of St Mary's, the roman catholic church a few hundred metres away from the cathedral. This is the first time I've ever seen a peregrine on that tower, which is much lower than the cathedral tower but, nevertheless, a high vantage point for a peregrine. Sorry the pic is blurred - taken from the car while traffic lights were on red!
She didn't stay there long as it happened....

Nick B (DWT)

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Burton neighbours

Here are some photos sent over to us of the Burton on Trent peregrines that nest high on the brewery tower in the middle of that town, some eight miles SW of Derby. Apparently they had three young this year.

The box was put up several years ago and the person who was responsible for it initially has now retired from the brewery. As you can see the box (just left of the bottom left of the red sign) is quite small compared to ours and it's no wonder that some juveniles come down to ground.
Apparently any fallers are quickly collected and taken up onto an acccessible flat roof where the parents can see and feed them.
The last photo shows one of the grounded youngsters. The whole site is secure of course, being an industrial complex.

More details on this site later when they come through.

Nick Brown (DWT)

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Various updates

A couple of days ago, a birdwatcher reported seeing three peregrines on the top of the police HQ aerial, barely half a mile from the cathedral. The adults are on and off the tower as usual at this time of the year, just keeping an eye on things as it were.
We continue to monitor the prey species being taken. Corncrakes have appeared in the diet recently. These birds, while scarce in the UK, are not quite so uncommon in Eastern Europe where old-style farming is still practiced - eg in countries such as Poland and Estonia. These are migrants and when there's anticyclonic weather, the easterly winds blow them and many other eastern birds to our shores.

Corncrakes, like water rails, little grebes, quail and various waders such as woodcock are all night migrants and so are rarely if ever seen by birdwatchers as they migrate. By day, they hide away in fields, marshes or woods, keeping a very low profile.

Ed Drewitt tells me that peregrines in Warsaw take many corncrakes in the autumn, which is not perhaps surprising, given this predator's habit of nocturnal feeding.
Other species taken recently in Derby have included the usual golden plover and teal, both of which winter near Derby - plus at least one skylark. The plover may be in flocks several hundred strong, the teal - a small duck - winter in smaller numbers at most reservoirs, lakes and gravel pits in the nearby valley of the river
We have recently made contact with someone who works for Coors Brewery in Burton on Trent and who keeps an eye on the peregrines that nest high on the company's tower which dominates the town's skyline. We hope to learn more about these neighbouring birds.

Meanwhile, here are two further photos of Cathy (010) taken when Nick Moyes and I went to see her and Colin a few weeks ago. We watched her come to Colin's fist, flying quite strongly across the ground. The injured wing though is clearly not producing the full thrust that she would need to fly properly.

Nick B (DWT)

This section of the page from here down is a test. Please ignore.

newest code (I think):

Monday, 21 September 2009

Cathy doing well

Colin took this photo of Cathy (010) recently and isn't she looking well? More photos are promised soon.

Down under the tower on Sunday morning I found the lovely, recently moulted peregrine feather shown below as well as several prey feathers.

These included those of teal (a small duck) and woodcock (a wader) both of which are typically winter food for our birds....the year is definitely turning now.....

Just as well peregrines are not migrants (though they do get shot at in the UK of course - more on this later).....
To read about a terrible massacre of raptors in Malta see this report from Birdguides or go to Birdlife Malta's own website:

If you have any spare money at all please consider supporting this determined group of brave conservationists fighting against appalling and indiscriminate shooting of birds on that island, from tiny robins and warblers to storks, eagles, ospreys, honey buzzards, stilts, bee fact anything that flies.
You can donate directly via Birdlife Malta's website or send a cheque through the post.

Nick B (DWT)

Friday, 18 September 2009

Scheduled Downtime

Our webcams will be unavailable during Monday 21st September. This is due to the electricity supply to The Silk Mill Museum needing to be disconnected. As a result the Museum itself will also be closed to the public on that day.

Before our webcam pictures can reach your computer, they first go via a radio link to the nearby Silk Mill museum. From there they go via a laser link (shown above) to a corresponding unit on Derby Assembly Rooms. And from there, well lots of other strange and amazing things happen before they reach you. But if one link in the chain is broken - no webcams.

So instead, why not spend the time planning to watch the International Space Station as it flies overhead? I've just used my standard birding telescope to watch the ISS fly over the UK, using a fantastic website to predict when it will be seen from your own location on earth, and from what direction of the night sky it will appear from. I didn't need a 'scope or even binoculars to see it because on some fly-overs it can be as bright or brighter than any star in the night sky. But with a birdwatching scope it was a wondrous sight to watch the ISS zoom past some 400 miles up, then fade away to dull red and disappear into the earth's shadow, and then to turn the telescope onto Jupiter. It's really bright in the night sky and tonight all four of its well-known "Galilean" moons were clearly visible, lined up in an almost perfectly line to the right of the massive planet. The position of the moons change from night to night -even hour to hour - so from now on I shall be using my birdwatching telescope to look for many other things in the sky apart from peregrines!

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Peregrine Falcons get to bat

(Updated 11/09/09)
It came as a delightful surprise, but we've just learnt that Derbyshire County Cricket Club have decided that from next year they are changing their name for their limited-over cricket team from the "Derbyshire Phantoms" to the "Derbyshire Falcons". What an honour!

It surely reflects the increasing awareness that our majestic peregrines have become very special to the city and to the county of Derbyshire. They really are becoming big hitters!

Interestingly, peregrines have very occasionally been known to include bats amongst their very wide range of prey species though not, as yet, here in Derby. But next season won't it be great to see lots of wickets being taken by the Derbyshire Falcons, too?

We understand that a new mascot will be created, and that a name has not yet been chosen for him. As well as being a graphic image there will also be a human-sized mascot created to attend matches, events and even make school visits. We look forward to welcoming him or her to Derby Cathedral in due course. No name has been decided upon yet, but two are currently under consideration. The cricket club would welcome any suggestions you might care to make. The mascot probably needs both a cricketing and a peregrine-related name, hinting at a fast, furious ability to take wickets and strike at balls. Remember, we're trying to help them name a cricketing mascot, not one of our real birds. Just leave a comment on this blog, and we'll pass the best ones on to the Derbyshire Cricket Club, and maybe you'll meet up with "??????? The Falcon" next year!

The Peregrine Project is a partnership between Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Derby City Council's Museum Service and, of course, Derby Cathedral, without whom none of this would have been possible.
We're also grateful to all our supporters and their donations which help keep the webcam and the project up and running.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Half a Million hits!

Yesterday (3rd September) we logged our 500,000th hit since the beginning of this season, well up on last year despite the cameras being down for over a fortnight in July.

So a big thanks to all you 'hitters' out there! It seems you still can't get enough of these birds!
And over 1000 photo's on Flickr also indicates your commitment and interest as the season unfolded.

The photo here shows the male, the 'tiercel', on one of the 16th century 'grotesques' on the tower, the photo taken by Colin Pass earlier in the year.
Thanks to him and indeed to the many other photographers for their excellent shots which they generously allowed us to use - and also your many great screen captures during the season.
Nick B (DWT)

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Two soggy juvs!

Added note: at 7.20am on 3rd September there are only 448 hits to go to the big 500,000!

This afternoon (1st September) we have had heavy thunderstorms in Derby.
This screen grab, taken in the late afternoon by Helen Naylor, shows both of our young males visible from the pud cam together......the first time for quite awhile. This is good news of course..... and especially as 008's colour ring was found under the tower a few days ago, prompting some speculation that he might have come to harm. Fortunately not it seems. The ring must have snapped somehow and then fallen off....we better ask for our money back from the ring makers hadn't we?

Nick B (wildlife trust)

Ps Hard hitting: Only just over 1000 hits short of our half million target keep up the good work!

Sunday, 23 August 2009

One juv for sure

This morning (23rd) was fine in Derby. I located one juvenile on the police aerial as you can (almost) see in the photo. At the cathedral, one adult was crouching in the tiny space above the platform with its head obscured, so I was unable to determine its sex.

Meanwhile the clocks on the South and West faces of the tower look very splendid - as you certainly can see!

Sorry about delays in getting your comments moderated.....I was away last week and Nick M and Tony G were both very busy......but we'll try harder as of now.

Nick B (DWT)

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Lights! Camera! Action?

Hooray! Our webcameras went back online today after a longer than expected break. It's certainly caused the number of visitors to drop off more sharply than previous years, and we're relieved the fault didn't manifest itself during the main period of breeding activity earlier this summer. Thanks to everyone for their patience and understanding.

For those interested in the actual cause of the problem, an inspection of the so-called "error logs" generated by our wireless linkage allowed Cisco, the makers, to identify a bug in their software. New "firmware" had to be loaded onto the two transmitting units, one of which is inside Derby Cathedral; the other is inside The Silk Mill. As usual finding the fault takes a lot longer than actually fixing it, and it's with some relief that Network Webcams are once again receiving our images, and out thanks to Chris and others from Affiniti for sorting out our communication difficulties.
Keen-eyed Derby folk will spot that the picture opposite of Derby Cathedral is not a recent one. In fact the clock has no hands right now, but will reappear soon in stunning blue and gold when its long-awaited overhaul is completed. Read more on this story here and here.
Update: Colin informs us that Cathy (010) is still doing well, though he and the vet are worried about illnesses like arthritis developing which could eventually shorten her life. He gives occasional updates on his blog (but note that the images posted on 4th August were not intended to be those our cathedral bird)

Monday, 3 August 2009

A School's-Eye View

Whilst we wait for our wireless internet link to be restored, we would like to share with you a superb example of how a group of Derbyshire school children have engaged with our peregrine falcons this year. Red Class at Brigg Infants School have made and narrated this superb video. The voices you hear are children of five and six years of age. Helen Naylor's class have embraced ICT and wildlife in an absolutely stunning way, and it was a pleasure to meet them earlier in the year when they visited Derby.
Not only that, it neatly sums up the 2009 season from egg-laying to fledging.

Peregine Falcons at Derby Cathedral from Helen S Naylor on Vimeo.

Visitors to Derby Museum and Art Gallery can also see this video as it is currently on continuous play in the Derbyshire Nature Gallery.

We're always interested to hear of schools who have found our webcams of value in teaching, and welcome a chance to see examples of work produced.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009


As you will no doubt have noticed, we're still having problems with our wireless link (Cisco 1200 series access point) which sends our signals out from Derby Cathedral. The engineer came on Friday and replaced the faulty unit - but the problem remained. The original unit was recalled by the manufacturer for tests. Once again, it's apologies from us and that familiar phrase: "we'll keep you informed of developments."

Injured Peregrine
Regular blog readers will be aware that one of this year's juvenile females suffered a severe wing injury which will prevent her ever flying wild and being capable of fending for herself.
We refer to her as "010" after her ring number, but she is now being cared for by a falconer who has long been supportive of our project. Colin now calls her "Cathy" - after the Cathedral - as he says he needs a name to shout to her when he's exercising and getting her to fly. Colin reports that she is doing fine as can be seen in this high-quality video made by local photographer, Jon Salloway, and taken about two weeks ago. It shows the incredible progress she has made since she was found on the ground, but her damaged wing can be clearly seen in some of the shots. Since then Colin reports that she is still doing well, and we're pleased to support him in the fine job he's doing with her.

Derby's birds have suffered a 50% loss this year, which is better than normal for urban peregrines. The greatest risk to birds is in their first year; elsewhere in the UK and around the world some nests have failed completely, or others have suffered natural losses, whilst others have experienced persecution at the hand of man.

In other news: Nick Brown from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust from reports that at a peregrine nest on a church in the town of Grantham in Lincolnshire about 40 miles East of Derby, a quail leg has just been found bearing a ring put on in Belgium in May. This is the first recovery ever of a foreign ringed quail in the UK, never mind one caught by a peregrine. The bird would have been caught close to Grantham, rather than being taken by a wandering peregrine traveling over to Belgium. In other parts of the world, peregrines do migrate long distances, but here we see them staying relatively close to their place of origin, and spreading out gradually to return to those areas from which they had declined so dramatically to a point of near extinction some 50 years ago. The 5 to 6 year old children from Brigg Infants School in Derbyshire have produced a short but stunning video telling the story of Derby Cathedral's peregrines in 2009. We hope to bring this to you in the very near future.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Trust the Wildlife Trust.....

Now that the breeding season has effectively ended, followers of the web cams and blog will be wondering what to do with themselves and already several suggestions have been made about switching to other peregrine webcams elsewhere - indeed watching web cams on other species.
Meanwhile, if you have enjoyed your involvement with the project this year, there are a few things you could do to get more involved with us.
The project is a partnership between the cathedral, the city museum and the county wildlife trust. The first two partners will promote themselves later.
The third partner, the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, is a charity and a non-profit organisation set up in the 1960s. For its income it depends partly on the support of its 12,000 members who pay an annual subscription. Some members also choose to make donations in addition and an increasing number leave us money in their wills.
This income in greatly enhanced by contracts with local councils and by funding applications made by the Trust staff (of whom there are now some 25 people). Funders include the national lottery, landfill tax, charitable trusts and some corporate supporters. Most of this money is short term and hard to get hold - so each year the Trust finds itself with a (usually relatively small) deficit and has to adjust its work and its expenditure accordingly.

Clearly the work of the Trust now relies heavily on the paid staff, without whom it would achieve very little.
Having said that, our wonderful volunteers (numbering over 500) make a major contribution to the Trust's work.

These people contribute their time in many ways: some volunteer to help with the peregrine watchpoints and without them we simply couldn't run them at all! Others help on our many nature reserves around the county. Others do office tasks and a few give their time as trustees, overseeing the work of the Trust and ensuring it develops and operates in a proper manner.

The Trust works in many ways to look after the wildlife of Derbyshire and to draw local people towards a better understanding and appreciation of that wildlife. This Peregrine project is just one (small) aspect of the Trust's work which you can find out more about by visiting our website at .

The Trust's involvement with this project has been there from the very beginning but, as we have said many times before, without the strong partnership with the cathedral and with the museum, this project would have achieved nothing. We each contribute different and complementary elements to make up the whole.

So, if you are not a Trust member already (especially if you live in or near the county), you might like to consider joining us. Several of you have done this already. Others have joined their own local wildlife trust in whatever county or country they live in - and in many ways, that is just as worthwhile (remember the old addage "think global, act local").

Alternatively, if you have not done so already, a donation to the project would be very welcome. Such donations are currently handled by the Trust on behalf of the project and this system has worked well so far. Details of how to make a donation are here

Finally, you could offer your time to the Trust as a volunteer. For more details please see the website above or contact the trust via the website contact points.
Thank you.

Nick Brown (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)

Ps. The landscape photo shows a part of the Peak District in North Derbyshire where the Trust has a series of important nature reserves. The last photo shows some of our work with children, here making a giant spider!

Webcam update (Updated)

Derby Cathedral stained glass window
An IT engineer arrived today to replace our faulty Cisco 1200 series wireless bridge. This is the radio link that connects the Cathedral to Derby City Council's networks, and thence to the big wide world.
Unfortunately it is dead in the water but the replacement unit had not been shipped out in advance as the engineer believed. So there was nothing to replace it with. We will have to wait until next week now before they can return and configure the new system.
We'll keep you informed if there are likely to be any further problems.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Not out of the woods yet

As many readers to this blog will be aware, our female juvenile peregrine was found with a permanently damaged wing just over a week ago. She will never be able to survive and hunt for herself in the wild. She has been to the vet a number of times, the last being yesterday, and her future has still to be decided. Colin, a local falconer, has been caring for her since she was discovered and has kindly produced a progress report on Monday's visit:

Not out of the woods yet.
The vet was pretty pleased with the strength and movement in her right shoulder joint. In fact perhaps a little surprised in just what movement and strength she did have. He was pretty impressed at what we had achieved and said I had made a good job. The shot in her abdomen seems to have moved and looks to be breaking down. This does not worry him as the lead level in her blood is very low at the moment.
X-ray of peregrine falcon 010 showing lead shot in digestive system and damage to right wing joint
However what does concern him is her long term care, and where she will end up.

In an ideal world he would like her to be cared for by a falconer, though she will never fly well enough to become a hunting falconry bird. But I believe she will fly well enough to keep fit and enjoy the freedom that flying free brings. The reason he is keen on her being cared for in a falconry background, is the constant contact and handling this brings every day which allows her to relax among people and give her a quality of life. He does not want her to end up in an aviary where, without constant contact and handling, she would revert back to being wild and become fearful and feel trapped. In that situation he feels the quality of life would be very poor, and euthanasia would be his recommendation.

In short, she goes back in 3 weeks time to see how we have got on with her training, and to see just how far her flying has progressed. When I go back I will tell the vet that I will try to commit to her welfare long term; this is something I had not given a great deal of thought to yet, as all I had thought about until now was getting her as well as possible and flying to the best of her ability.

On a good note I have been granted a registration document from Animal Health (DEFRA) for her as her keeper, it arrived this morning.

The project team adds:
Our thanks to Colin for reporting back on the situation following 010's visit to the vet today. It's clear that not only have we - the Project Team - got an obligation to look after 010's best interests, we also have an obligation not to force 010 upon Colin, or indeed someone else, who might feel duty-bound to look after her for years to come when, deep down, that isn't really what they might want or could manage.

The vet is clearly concerned to ensure that eventually there is a long term commitment to her upkeep and quality of life, and it would be wrong of us all if, by our support for what Colin is doing now, we push him into a corner that he never expected to be in. His decision - and ours - need to be made on what's best for all involved, and for now we are immensely grateful to him for his superb care of this injured wild bird.

You have all been so supportive of what Colin is doing. However, we're worried that the intensity of your support via the blog comments might force him into making long-term decisions he wouldn't otherwise make. So we'll continue to support him, of course, in the great work he has been doing but also in what has to be a completely separate and long-term decision which impacts not only on the bird's future, but also on his own.

Footnotes: Another local photographer, John Salloway, has posted a high definition video showing 010's progress. Follow this link to John's Blog

We are expecting an engineer on 14th July to repair or replace our wireless bridge - so apologies for the protracted breakdown in webcam service.

Would anyone spotting either of our two juveniles please leave a comment on the blog for all to see?

Sunday, 5 July 2009

News from the western front

This morning a trip to town early discovered both adults and one of the male juveniles. On the right is one of the two male juvs. He was begging for food from the falcon that was sitting nearby (left photo) both on a pair of aerials.

Overhead several swifts were flying about and a cormorant went over much higher.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch so to speak, the tiercel was on the platform, preening.

No sign of the second juvenile but there are a whole lot of roofs and other suitable perching places in town!

Apols for poor quality of the photos....

Nick B (DWT)

Friday, 3 July 2009

It's Always Sunny in Derby

Our webcams have frozen on a lovely sunny scene yesterday in Derby. Unfortunately today's heavy rain clouds cast a shadow on many things, including news of our webcam internet connection.

It appears that our Cisco wireless access point is faulty, and may need to be replaced. Looking at its oddly flashing lights today, it seemed to be continuously trying to reboot itself. Not good news. Thankfully we are supported by Serco, Derby City Council's IT new support organisation. Their monitoring systems had already alerted them to a problem, and they were investigating it at the same time as I was.

So what's a wireless access point, when it's at home? Basically its a radio connection that links Derby Cathedral to the City Council's network, allowing the webcam signals to get out to Streamdays, who then serve back those pictures to you, our viewers. A faulty unit means no signal is getting out, and the unit may have to be replaced - we shall know more next week.

This is a surprising failure as they are normally very rugged devices, rather like a wireless router, and Cisco equipment is top-of-the-range. Serco hope to check it out on Monday, and we should know more soon.

Meanwhile, anyone for the potter's wheel again?

Monday, 29 June 2009

More Sad News

Since the video by John Salloway was posted showing all three juveniles last week, some of you may have noticed that there have not been any moments when all three young birds have been seen together since. There is a reason for this, and we have thought long and hard over the last few days about what information to make public – and when.

As you know, we have always stated that we would not attempt to capture any bird, adult or juvenile that seemed to be injured or ill. But if found on the ground or elsewhere unable to fly, we would do our best for such a bird, for example by returning a juvenile to the top of the tower. That position has been tested this last week, and the situation is still unfolding, and our stance may yet change.

On Wednesday last week we had a call from the RSPCA - the major UK animal welfare charity. They had been called by a security guard the previous evening who had found our remaining female juvenile falcon (010) grounded inside the former police station just across the street from Derby Cathedral. She seemed unable or unwilling to fly, so their animal welfare officer collected the bird and, unable to make contact with us at that time of the evening, took it to a specialist welfare shelter some miles away for overnight care.

The next day Nick B. collected 010 from the animal sanctuary and brought her back to Derby to release her. Although 010 had eaten well and looked bright eyed, the sanctuary owner expressed some concerns about the bird’s wings and so Nick B asked our local falconer Colin P. to check the bird over before she was released.

At it happened a number of people, including Colin, had noticed that this juvenile had been reluctant to fly on the tower over the previous couple of days. This indicated some sort of problem and so, armed with this knowledge, it was decided to get some expert opinion about her condition. Colin agreed to look after her meanwhile and he reported back that 010 had adapted to captivity quickly, continue to eat lustily and was very calm, making her an ideal patient.

It also turned out that the RSPCA were involved with a BBC TV programme called Animal Rescue 24:7 which focuses on animal welfare incidents. The programmers had asked if they could film the story to be broadcast sometime next year. We agreed and a film crew turned up to film the bird at the sanctuary and her return to Derby, though by then we had decided she should not be released.

The following day Colin took 010 to a local vet who agreed the bird was not 100% and referred her to a second vet with specialist skill in treating birds of prey. There she was X-rayed and was found to have dislocated her left shoulder joint some time earlier. This had gone back into place and had healed - but in the wrong position. This vet felt it was unlikely that she will ever fly again, though the bird was not distressed or in pain as far as he could judge. To make matters worse, the X-ray also revealed that she had at a large shotgun pellets inside her gut. The vet assured Colin that 010 had not been shot directly, but had probably ingested the pellet from a prey item she had fed on, which itself must have survived being shot.

What these pellets are made of is of great concern. It's most likely that they will be standard lead pellets, in which case there is a considerable risk that, if they don't pass though her body naturally (or after giving her an enema to attempt to flush the lead out), they could be digested and enter her tissues. This would eventually result in lead poisoning. Blood tests have been taken and we await the results of these later in the week. If at any stage she exhibits signs of lead poisoning it seems inevitable that 010 will have to be put down at some stage before she deteriorates and suffers further. But so far she appears healthy and well and is a very gentle-natured bird, and is certainly being very well looked after.

If it turns out that there is no lead poisoning – just a weak left wing - the vet’s opinion is that it would probably still be wrong to keep her penned up for the rest of her life, unable to fly. By contrast and depending how she progresses, Colin thinks it might still be possible to exercise her sufficiently such that she could fly a little, even if she can never hunt for herself.

So what do we do? The answer is we don't yet know. We have to think of the bird's welfare first, and what is the best course of action to take. It could be a hard decision to make to put down a wild bird that could face the rest of its long life in captivity; but it would be almost as hard for us to decide that she should remain alive, knowing she might never fly wild again, and certainly not hunt for herself. 010 will be returning to the specialist vet during the week for the results of the blood test. We will probably also try and retrieve and bring you the x-ray which clearly shows the injury she has experienced.

We visited 010 earlier today, and she was calm and at ease in her new environment. In the first picture above she had just been sprayed with water in an attempt to encourage her to preen and move both wings. That she did with ease, though it was clear that her right wing is being held in an abnormal position.

We hope you understand why we decided not to go public with this unfolding story until we knew more about the nature of 010’s problems. It is possible that you may have views which will not coincide with whatever decision the Project team and the veterinary experts decide upon. But rest assured that whatever it is, we'll attempt to do the right thing for falcon 010, and will keep you informed of progress during the coming days.

However, in view of recent unwelcome comments left on this blog when falcon 009 flew into a glass panel and died a week ago, we do not want to see a recurrence of inflammatory remarks being left about 010 which then deteriorate into an unhelpful and aggressive slanging match.
We think all readers of this blog - including children - deserve better. So for a short period all new comments to this post will require pre-moderation by a project member.

Finally we would also like to thank the RSPCA who took in 010 and who met the cost of the initial vet's fees, and to P.Nurse of Ambivet for his care and concern. Over the weekend she was also visited by one of Derbyshire Police's Wildlife Liaison Officers and her possession at the moment by an experienced falconer has been registered in accordance with UK law. So, most importantly, our thanks to Colin P. for his care and concern for this poor falcon.
Latest Update (29/6/09): The vet's blood analysis apparently shows low levels of lead in her body, which is good news for now. She is scheduled for another check-up next week.

Friday, 26 June 2009

You Can Ring My Bell . . . (updated with video)

Derby Cathedral is offering people the chance to try bell-ringing tomorrow (Saturday 27th).

During an Open Day people will be able to tour the tower, watch bell-ringing demonstrations and try ringing one themselves.

Doors to the Cathedral tower will be open from 10am until 4pm and admission is £2 for adults and £1 for children (over eights only).

For details of other forthcoming events at Derby Cathedral, follow this link to the What's On page of their website.

Shown below is a superb new video taken by John Salloway on 22 June, showing three juveniles being fed. This is taken from John's own blog, for which many thanks. He does warn viewers that it can get a little gory - but as we keep saying on this site, that's nature.

Derby Peregrine Falcons - Videoscoping. from Jon Salloway on Vimeo

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Video - or Live Theatre on Cathedral Green?

For anyone wanting another reason (other than peregrines) to come into Derby and enjoy the new Cathedral Green area, here's some information you might be interested in, taken from recent promotional leaflets:

Derby LIVE is proud to present its first Outdoor Theatre Season later this month, in the beautiful setting of Derby’s new outdoor riverside space, Cathedral Green. The season kicks off with Derby LIVE Community Theatre’s inaugural production of Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, running from Wednesday 24 - Saturday 27 June, continuing the week after with Oddsocks’ Richard III, from Wednesday 1 – Saturday 4 July 2009.

Tickets available from Derby LIVE Box Office on 01332 255800, or by visiting Derby LIVE’s new
website With so much on offer, the new video clips and handy show suggestions will help you make your choice.

(Opera glasses may also be useful for peregrine-spotting during any intervals!)

Recognising that not everyone can come to Derby, we've bowed to pressure and collected together all this seasons video clips in one place. We won't charge you £5; we won't charge you £4; we won't charge you £3! No, just for you, it's absolutely free. Simply click the video clip link on the left side of the blog page, or follow this link.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Credit where credit is due

Following the recent blog entry (Record Breakers) which listed the people who have helped the project this year, we need to add an additional word of thanks too because Nick M, of Derby Museum and Art Gallery, who wrote that text, of necessity left himself out!

Nick M has been a (some would say the) key player since the project started in 2006. In truth, it has taken over much of his life since then. Although a friend for years, Nick proved to be the ideal partner for this work - in fact he came 'designed for purpose' as they say!
Not only is he an experienced mountaineer, happy to abseil down the cathedral whenever that is required, he is also a very technically minded chap and an all-round naturalist!
Nick set up the platform in 2006 (as the photo shows) and the web cameras in 2007 and 08 (with help from his climbing mate Nick E, who also happened to be a carpenter and just the man to make the platform for us).
They also abseil down each spring to clean out the nest, make repairs and camera adjustments.
Nick also set up the IT systems that enable folk worldwide to see these birds, spending literally hundreds of hours of his own time to achieve the results that we all benefit from today - the web cam views and the blog.
Without Nick, the project would be still in the dark ages with only local people able to see the birds from the ground. How the marvels of IT have opened up the lives of these birds to global scrutiny!
For Nick it had been extremely hard work for sure but also a labour of love. Now the main 'season' is drawing to a gentle close he might get a bit more time to himself.
The third member of the team is Tony G, the Head Verger. Tony has ensured that all the cathedral staff and volunteers have come on board and supported the project. He has opened doors - both physically and metaphorically, enabled us to use rooms in the cathedral to store the watch point equipment, helped with cleaning the nave roof, helped to rescue grounded juveniles.....and so much more.

So, a massive thanks from me to Tony and especially to Nick M. Partnerships can easily go wrong but the three of us have got along fine throughout.....we just need Tony to change his name to Nick to make the whole thing perfect!
Nick B (DWT)
Ps. Do go to the previous posting to see a new video clip that Nick M added just before this one went shows a nice piece of interaction.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Last of the Watch Points (updated with video)

Today was a greyer day than we’ve had of late and quite chilly out of the sun but some good views of all the peregrines were had by all who came down to the Cathedral Green.When we set up, only the adult male and the two males juveniles could be seen. Dad was in his usual perch high in the stonework of the “window” above the nest and the two youngsters were up by Pudding Cam finishing off the remains of an earlier meal.

Little changed with these three until Dad flew off and was last seen heading Northeast very high up – presumably on a hunting trip – at about midday. At about 11.00, the adult female flew in from behind us and landed just below the nest platform where she stayed for about twenty minutes before flying off low to the North accompanied by the remaining female juvenile. She was later seen on one of the aerials on top of some nearby flats where she remained for most of the rest of the session. The female juvenile wasn’t seen again until about 1.00 o’clock when she appeared on the aerial which her mother had recently left to return to the Cathedral.

Finally, just as we were starting to pack away at 1.30, she returned to the Cathedral and we were treated to the whole family in front of us, although in true peregrine fashion there was very little activity - until the last of the equipment was put away, at which point the adult female took off and circled around briefly, being joined by one of her offspring with much calling from all the youngsters. This has become a feature of the Saturday watchpoints – as soon as we start to clear away, it all starts to happen!

Today was our last watchpoint for this year, although inevitably we will visit from time to time to check on progress. Thank you to all who visited for taking the time to show an interest in these magnificent creatures and for your kind donations which go towards the cost of running the project and the webcams and thank you especially to Luke’s mum for the cream cakes today – they were much appreciated!

Andy, Chris, Helen 20 June 2009

Postscript: And a huge big thanks to all the volunteers who have helped out this season. You've been great! That's: Steve and Ann, John and Neil, Brian and Margaret, Jane and Paul, Sue, Wayne, Celia, Helen, Andy and Chris and Margaret.
We've been fortunate with the weather, with just one day cancelled because of rain if my memory serves me correctly.
Finally, here's a recent video clip of juvenile on top of Derby Cathedral tower. It's looks like our remaining female pushing the adult male out of the way. (Note: we are aware of a problem with the audio on this clip, but the hum has since been fixed.)

Thursday, 18 June 2009

A breath of fresh air

Here is some more work by the infants in Red Class at Brigg School, kindly sent in by Helen, their teacher. Unlike the computer generated graphics shown in an earlier post, these are hand drawn and written.

In the first, note the smaller birds getting chased - they are a robin and a blue tit. And the child looking through the telescope on The Green below!

In the second, see how accurately the rings on the legs have been drawn - red on one leg and metal on the other......remember, these are five year olds!
In the third, the bubble reads; "I want a turn on the eggs. You've already had a go!"

Great work - and more to follow!
Nick B (DWT)

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Sad News

Falcon 009. Copyright Colin PassOne of our young peregrines was found dead today on the roof of a block of flats in Derby City Centre. The Wildlife Trust took a call from staff at nearby Rivermead House who had found the corpse of an unidentified bird bearing a ring. Normally we might have suspected it to be a sparrowhawk as these are quite common, but they rarely get ringed. So we called in and were taken up to the roof where we found female peregrine (009) lying dead on her back. This was one of our two female chicks and she flew the nest on Friday 12 June. The cause of death was clear - she had broken her neck by flying into the smoked-glass safety barrier around the edge of the roof, having probably flown from one of the tall aerial masts in the centre of the roof. It's a common phenomenon that when a bird flies into a window at speed it leaves a dusty "shadow" from its wings on the glass, and this could clearly be seen.

Whilst the Team are sad that we've lost one of our birds, it's a stark fact that around 75% of all peregrine chicks will not survive through their first year. This is nature, and we should not be too concerned. We think we lost one last year early on, too, and it's a fact of life that not all will make it. We hope the remaining chicks (008, 010, 011) will continue to flourish, of course, and are confident their parents will do their best to teach them the skills they need to survive and thrive.

Copyright Colin Pass
Thanks to Colin for supplying the image above of falcon 009, as well as this one taken earlier today when he noticed how the adult falcon (female) was calling constantly and seemed quite ill at ease, though at the time he had no idea why.

Record Breakers

Young peregrine
This picture of one of our juvenile peregrines is the 1000th picture uploaded to our Flickr Group since we launched it a couple of months ago. Thanks to Andy Byron for supplying this fine shot and the other two below of the falcon, all taken last Sunday.

Thanks indeed to everyone who has contributed screenshots, compilations and photos of the fastest creature on the planet!

It might be timely to consider a number of the Team's achievements and offer a few words of thanks - and it really has been teamwork as always.

Thanks to Nick B. from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and his team of brilliant volunteers, all of whom have made such a difference on Cathedral Green and who have introduced so many people every year to the delights of Derby's now famous birds. It was Nick who got the ball rolling with this project, who continues to maintain contact with experts in feather identification (Ed D) and urban peregrines (Nick D) and who brings many years of expertise in communication, education and ornithology to the project.

To Tony G. and his team of vergers who give us access to the Cathedral at all hours, who was on hand whenever a rescue seemed imminent and who climbed the tower stairs at all hours to reboot our server.

To Nick E. for abseiling down to help maintain the nest platform that he built for us - the latest modifications really seem to have paid off.

To Martin R. and Ant M. who ringed (banded) our chicks for the fourth year in succession.

Landing gear down

To everyone - well, almost everyone - who left comments on the blog, or phoned and emailed in Watchpoint reports, made suggestions, gave donations, suggested improvements, asked questions, drew pictures, brought school children, bought the DVD, or made that all-important visit to the City of Derby to see the peregrines for themselves and to spread the word that our city really does have something very special going for it.

To the staff and management at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, the Cathedral and the Museums Service, thanks for supporting the project in a whole host of ways. And to the band of extraordinary enthusiasts out there on Derby's Cathedral Green, of whom perhaps Colin Pass deserves special thanks for his support and falconry expertise. Colin, like Wayne R, was happy to answer many people's comments - as, of course were others, so reducing the need for the Project Team to try to answer all the many questions you've asked.
To Capita and now Serco for their past and future support in maintaining the City Council's IT links that keep the project going.
To the late Froona Veldhuis for her interest in and support of Derby peregrines. To Ashley Sims for letting us have the rights to (and hence the profits from) the DVD he so competently produced last year. And a big "thank you" to every single webcam viewer or blog reader who have made this Project so rewarding for us all.

The biggest thanks must surely go to our pair of peregrine falcons (Falco peregrinus). We never felt we should name them - these are wild birds, free to come and go, but they've entered many people's lives and shown us many intimate moments and the wonder and rawness of the natural world on all our PCs.

Air brakes on

Their four chicks hatched and made their maiden flights in such a short time. For many more weeks they will be seen on our webcams and in the skies around Derby before moving away towards the autumn. Our webcameras and blog will stay open and active throughout the autumn and winter of course, bringing you images of the parent birds that will remain around the tower throughout......and other peregrine news all year round.

So what else have we achieved so far this year? How about:
  • 420,000 visits to our webcam and blog

  • 10,800 readers to our blog last week alone (peak figure)

  • 61 blog updates by the Project Team

  • 3,270 feedback comments left

  • 1,000 screen shots and photos posted to Flickr since May.

  • 20 Official Watchpoints

  • Too many visitors to count (many coming to Derby specifically to watch peregrines)

  • £2,000 raised through donations and sales.

  • 1.17 million webhits since first going online in 2007

  • Three exhausted Team Members!

    Finally, what can you webcam watchers do now that the (online) season is drawing to a close? Plenty the next posting to the blog will attempt to explain in a couple of days time! We certainly don't mean this to sound like "goodbye", but we recognise that visitor numbers are starting to fall sharply and we wanted to get our thanks in quick.
    Rest assured that we'll still be here right through the season, with news of our peregrines and other topical conservation events and ideas.

    Nick M (Derby Museum)

    Ps Nick B has added: the next post will also include a huge thanks to Nick M who wrote the above summary.......but left himself out of the accolades!