Wednesday, 29 April 2009

We have hatching - two chicks by early 30th April!

Peregrine chicks being fed 2.
We now have two chicks hatched out. The picture above was captured by Larelle_M_R on 30th April at 3pm.

What follows below is a blow-by-blow account of developemnts on Wednesday evening as we got more and more evidence of first one, then a second chick hatching out. The shell-nibbling video clip is worth watching out for. We hope to bring some proper videos of these moments to you in the near future.

First tantalising glimpse at 19:32 of a cracked egg. Is there still a chick inside it?? We have evidence that our first egg has hatched!

About 19:15pm this evening Nick M (who has sound) heard distinct rasping/cheeping noises and kept watching until he got some evidence, but pretty soon the female covered the eggs up from view again.

Checking back on the captured images we can show the first glimpse of a broken egg with what certainly looks like the chick still inside. Click the image to see a larger version.

(Note: This blog entry was updated at intervals throughout the evening as we get more information and images during the course of the night, culminating in a second chick appearing around 11pm.)

About 20:25 we had superb views of the half shell which the female then began to chew. We plan to bring you a stop motion video later this evening of her eating the egg. This is an important way for mother birds to restore some of their denuded calcium stocks, and has nothing to do with keeping the nest tidy as someone asked earlier this evening. now we want a clear view of the first chick...but she's not giving us that option at present!

Restoring those calcium levels. Mum eats the empty egg shell at 20:15

Derek Ratcliffe in his famous reference book, says that peregrines nibble at egg shells but don't really seem to devour them...they just crumble and disappear in little bits. In one year we did seem to get very convincing evidence of the egg being consumed, rather than dropping away. Here's a stop motion video we've put together from webcam images captured earleir this evening.

We're already starting to get our first pictures added to our new Flickr photo pool for Derby Cathedral Peregrines, so thank you and keep them coming!

This very first image of our first chick was posted by Jennifer Windridge on our new Flickr group which itself only hatched today - proving it was worth all the effort to get it up and running in time.

This next image was captured and posted by Dave Arrowsmith.
baby chick

This image labelled "chick1" was posted by rajenkinson but it does look rather like at 23:01 it's captured the second egg in the moment of hatching, presumably with Mum taking a well-earned break for a moment.

And at 6.30 am today (Thursday 30th) there was a prolonged feeding by the female bird of two tiny white chicks with the other two unhatched eggs clearly's going well so far!

Sharing Your Pictures - with Flickr

Midday changeover. Come on Dad, get out of my way!There is now a way you can save and share your peregrine pictures for everyone to see.

Today we are launching Derby Cathedral Peregrine Pictures - a Group Pool on Flickr - a popular photo-sharing website.

You can now save webcam pictures, or share images you've taken around Derby Cathedral of our birds. Once you've uploaded and put your pictures in our "pool" we can than copy or link to those pictures for use in this peregrine blog. But people can also just go there and see what magic moments others have captured from our webcams, or during their time visiting Derby Cathedral.

So as to keep a modicum of order we do ask you to read and agree to some basic group rules for posting pictures. (Photographers and authors do have copyright of their work, but anyone wanting to re-use an image posted here often need only contact the creator and request their permission. More often than not it wll be granted. )

For those not familiar with here are some simple instructions for joining.

1) You will first need to set yourself up as a user by registering. (It's free, providing you don't want to upload more than 100Mb of pictures per month.)

2) You will then have to upload the picture/s you want to share to your own photostream (as they call it on Flickr. These are your photos on your pages - we can't see them yet in our Group Pool).

3) You can caption, label and even tag your own pictures so that they make sense to others. Please includes dates so that everyone will appreciate when they were taken.
4) Now you'll need to join our Group Pool (and of course confirm your agreement to follow the rules). Then you can add the pictures from your "photostream" to our Group for all to see in one place. The elusive little icon to "Add to Group" lies on the left side of a line of icons above your image.

Flickr does have its own help pages which gives more details on each step. Good luck!

The cameras froze agai this morning, but this changeover was captured shortly afterwards using an automated process described in this blog. So how do I save a Screenshot?
This has been asked and answered many times before, but with Windows the quickest way is simply to hit the PrintScreen button on your keyboard which saves the screen image into your Clipboard. Open any image editing package on your computer, then paste the contents of the clipboard into it. (e.g. Paint, IrfanView, Photoshop etc). You'll need to crop away the unwanted bit of image and then save as a .jpg file. (Avoid saving as .bmp or .png) This file is what you'll then upload to your account on Flickr, and after that you'll want to add it to our Group Pool.

How do I save LOTS of screenshots automatically?
Ah, this really is a magic trick! (A £1 donation to the project for everytime you use this, please!) You'll need an image editing package capable of automatically capturing screenshots. I swear by IrfanView, both for home and work use and it can be freely downloaded. It is an amazingly simple image editing package which can do batch edits to multiple images as well as scheduling automatic screen capture. (It was Froona who taught me the latter trick) The shortcut key to this function is just 'C' and you can then set the progam to save an image of your desktop or client area at a specified interval to any directory you choose. You can also set a limit to the size of file saved to disk - 80kb is reasonable), which is helpful if you leave it running for some time. Set your computer to show Thumbnails in this directory, and you have a quick way of skimming through hours of images captures very quickly to spot sudden changes in position, or some other activity you are looking for. Deleting unwanted files as you go helps make the management task easy.
Irfanview also does a great job of browsing through saved images and cropping and renaming the ones you want to keep. Left click the mouse to start drawing a rectangle over the area of image you want to crop, then Ctrl-Y crops away everything outside it. 'S' is a shortcut to save the file.

I don't want to use Flickr - how can I post a link that works reliably?
You might already use Photobucket, or other imaging-sharing websites, and want to post a link to your picture by leavng a "Comment" in our blog. Long website addresses often get split up in our limited comments page and then fails to work. So why not give a shorter link instead? To do this, highlight and copy your long url. Then go to and paste it into the box provided. Click "Compress That Address!" and you get a new url which you can then paste here far more reliably than before.

If you have problems with any of these instructions, please post a comment and I'll ammend the guidance accordingly.

Let's hope for some great egg-hatching moments shared for all to see over the next few weeks!

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Some people just can't wait any longer!

This photo was sent in by Graham Whitmore who has obviously just got fed up of waiting for the first egg to hatch out.............

Nice one Graham!

Nick B (DWT)

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Donations fly in

As the day of hatching approaches, it seems timely to offer a big, big thank you from the project team for the excellent donations we have received from around the world in the last few weeks since we put out a request for financial support .

The running total is just under £800 which makes a really great start towards the total amount that we are likely to need this summer to cover all our costs.

There have been 17 individual donors so far - so a big THANK YOU to everyone of you. Your names are listed on the project home page, and new supporters will be added at intervals. Please let us know if we've missed you off or put in the worng details.

In addition, we received a donation of £150 from The Derbyshire Ornithological Society (DOS) for which we are very grateful. The DOS has been very supportive of this project since its inception, regularly printing news and requests for volunteers etc and a full account of the prey story (written by NB) in their Annual Report of 2007. The DOS website is at and you will find much of interest there - latest bird sightings in the county, bird watching sites and details of their meetings and outings. Becoming a member of the DOS will put you in touch with the county's bird watchers......details on their website.

Finally, we'd like to thank our Tourism Office for offering help towards the cost of producing a new promotional leaflet which aims to bring more visitors - both real and virtual - to watch Derby's peregrine falcons. For more information on making a trip to Derby, go to

Ps. The line drawing above is by Jackie Farrand who worked for DWT as a graphics artist several years ago but whose art work we still use.
This changeover was captured by Ruth in Grenoble this morning (27th) at 9.12 am......nice shot, thanks Ruth!
Nick B (DWT)

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Quick Change

(Blog entry updated) A changeover on the nest was captured in still images yesterday morning. The female left and was quickly replaced by the male, showing all four eggs looking, well, eggcellent. Pictures were captured at 30 second intervals. This is followed by a video clip from this morning of a changeover by the female who almost pushed the male off the eggs. What a great view we get of her eggs in the morning sunlight.

In answer to a recent question left on our blog, although we have three cameras working all the time, we only have two image feeds on the web. The pictures they show do get varied as activity changes - our second page currently shows a "multi-view" with all three camera images merged into one. Images change every 8 seconds or so. We do not currently have the capability to offer live audio/video.

Apologies from the Project Team for not responding to all questions recently. In our own way each of us is very busy, and free time is rather at a premium.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Cameras Alive!

Our three peregrine webcameras are online again after an unexpected break over Easter. Please accept our apologies for this break in service which occurred when all our Council's servers had to physically relocated. Thanks to our brand new IT company, Serco, for fixing this problem.

Interestingly, daily hits fell from around three and half thousand to just over five hundred during this period, although our blog's ranking in the top 500 birding websites did not change much because it doesn't measure hits to our webcams.

More importantly, we hope you can see for yourself that our peregrines are doing fine, and there's still a couple of weeks to wait before they start hatching.

We've recently received some donations to the Project, and our thanks to everyone from as far afield as Hong Kong, Canada, Austria who have supported us, not to mention those closer to home, too. We will update our homepage in the near future with all recent donors.

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Peregrine writer and artists

Image of female peregrine Tuesday 14 April 10:30amPLEASE NOTE: Tuesday night update: Our web cams pages are still down, but our IT Support company is dealing with the issue. Thanks to "Pax Canada" for reminding us that you can always check the webpages oif our hosting company, Streamdays, to see the images, though only refreshed at infrequent intervals.
Webcam feed1
Webcam feed2

Here's a picture taken on Tuesday morning, showing Mum still on her eggs. (It was captured via a private link direct to our video server inside Derby Cathedral's tower)

(modified Monday 13th April)

Here in the UK, the peregrine 'bible' is undoubtedly the monograph entitled simply The Peregrine Falcon by Derek Ratcliffe, published in 1980 by T and AD Poyser. The paintings and line drawings are by Donald Watson, a very fine Scottish wildlife artist who, like Derek, sadly died a few years ago.

Derek was a leading ecologist in the UK and he tramped the scottish hills and other peregrine nesting habitats for many years gathering data about his favourite bird.

The book, which runs to over 300 pages, is packed with information about peregrines though it was written before they began to nest on artifical structures such as cathedrals and pylons in the UK. It explains how DDT and other pesticides thinned the egg shells of peregrines such that they smashed before hatching. This lead to the catastrophic decline in this species and many other 'top predators' in the 1950s and 60s.

The book is out of print in the UK (but reprinted by Princetown University in 1993 I am told (thanks to blog comments - and available via amazon or alibris). No doubt copies can also be borrowed from libraries.

Ratcliffe's book is a scientific one though very well written and accessible to the amateur. Perhaps one of the finest pieces of natural history writing is The Peregrine by J A Baker, first published in 1967 and then again by Penguin Books in 1976 and reprinted in 1984. The author uses lyrical prose to relate the lives of peregrines wintering in Essex.

The linocut to the left is by UK artist Robert Gillmor, taken from his excellent book called Cutting Away, published a couple of years ago.

Possibly the best know UK artist who painted peregrines among many other birds was Charles Tunnicliffe, who lived on Anglesey of the North Wesh coast and studied the sea cliff nesting peregrines at South Stack.

This fine painting (right) is taken from the cover of The Peregrine Sketchbook by C F Tunnicliffe, published by Excellent Press in 1996.

Nick Brown (DWT)

Friday, 10 April 2009

Potter's Wheel

Our webcam feed is temporarily suspended over Easter.
Despite being advised this wouldn't happen, I'm afraid we have temporarily lost our pictures along with all other content and public servcies on Derby City Council's website. This is due to essential maintenance work to move our network servers from Derby to Birmingham - a very rare event indeed. Things should be back to normal by Tuesday 14th April at the latest.

Meanwhile, in the famous tradition of the BBC during the 1950s, we are pleased to be able to bring you the Potters Wheel Interlude. It was broadcast whenever there were breaks in television transmission.

(Thanks to YouTube user JFBridge for this clip.)

Whilst the cameras are down we are open to any questions or requests for information you may have about our peregrine falcons. Just post a comment and someone here will probably be able to answer them. We may use your questions to update an FAQ page that we're planning.

And here is a compilation of all our video clips published so far this season.

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)

23 March 2008 Changeover during incubation. The male is on the nest and is encouraged to leave by the large female who calls and waddles over to take charge.

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

Monday, 6 April 2009

Donations Needed!

Running a project like this costs money and we need to raise considerable funding to keep it going. For example, it costs £1400 per year for our two web cam streams to be hosted and a new flier will cost us over £400.

So this blog entry is the first of 2009 to invite you to make a contribution.

The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (one of the three project partners) is a registered charity and a 'not for profit' organisation. As such it is the best recipient of funds for the project. The Trust holds the funds and then pays the bills on behalf of all three partners.

Fortunately we received one large four-figure anonymous donation early on in the project's life which really set us up. That money is now exhausted as are the donations received last summer. So we do need new donations now to help us pay our expenses this summer. Two generous donations, from Jennie in Hong Kong and Roger in Austria, have set the ball rolling even before we asked!

Rest assured that any money given to the Wildlife Trust will be used only to support this project. We display an annual list of donors (but not the amount) on the project home page, but gifts can be anonymous if you wish.

All donations, however small or large, are acknowledged either by email or letter. You can donate in one of the following ways:

UK donors:
Post a cheque made payable to DWT to the Trust at East Mill, Belper, DE56 1XH including a covering note stating that your donation is for the peregrine project and your address so we can thank you.

Ring the Trust office in office hours (01773 881188) and make a payment over the phone by debit/credit card.

UK Taxpayers only: you can greatly increase your donation by filling out a Gift Aid form whereby the tax people give the Trust a further 25% of the value of your donation. The form can be sent by email or through the post…just ask.

Overseas donors:

Please email asking for the codes you need so that you bank can transfer money to the DWT account. (Unfortunately Gift Aid does not apply unless you are a tax payer in the UK.)
Donors from most overseas countries can also ring the Trust (on 011 44 1773 881188 ) to pay by credit long as you can work out when the office is open of course!

It helps if you would clearly mark on your payment that it is intended for use by the Peregrine Project, either in the current financial year or carried forward, if unspent.

Payments should only be made to one of the three Project Partners. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is best placed for this. Please note that no other organisation or website is authorised to collect funds on our behalf.

Thank you in advance,

Nick Brown (DWT)

Ps. The Trust office is open until Thursday 3pm but then closed for Easter until Tuesday 14th April.
Pps. The photo shows one of the youngsters that we had to rescue last summer.....
Ppps: Nick M has added a slide show of the male bird sleeping it off in front of tower camera late on Tuesday evening.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Last Post - Froona Veldhuis

(Further Update: 9th April. see end)

Froona VeldhuisIt is with a deep sense of loss and not inconsiderable sadness that I have to report the news that one of our most enthusiastic peregrine watchers, Froona Veldhuis in Holland, died earlier tonight. The following information was posted late this evening by a regular contributor to an English discussion thread on the Slechtvalken Forum:

"It is with a heavy hart that I have to inform you that Froona has passed away tonight, with her brother and her neighbour at her side"

There will be many hundreds of blog visitors who won't have heard of Froona or read her postings. but there will be thousands more who will. Her enthusiasm for Schlechtvalken (peregrine falcons) was astounding. She seemed to monitor our webcameras here in Derby even more fastidiously than the team members do.

Peregrine image from the top of Froona's blog. Photographer unknown, possibly C.Saladin

One more than one occasion I found myself capturing some special moment on the webcam feed in my office or at home, rushing to post it on our blog, only to find that Froona had already put up three or four pictures of the same moment on her own site. More than once last year I simply gave up and linked people straight to her blog to see more of our pictures!

Froona's blog was unusual because it reported on the progress of a vast number of peregrine nest sites around the northern hemisphere at any one time. Running this project, I had little time to look at at, but it gave me a valuable understanding of the advancing seasons when, in one place, she would report on the breeding state of sites to the south, such as Rome, Zwolle, de Mortel and Brighton. She also ran a detailed peregrine website, though most is in Dutch

I never met Froona, but she had spoken of wanting to come to Derby soon and we've had much direct email contact.. It was through a number of anonymous comments left on this blog that some of us learnt of her going in to intensive care recently, then of make a slight recovery. I recently sent an email to her in the expectation that her recovery would continue and she would open it on her eventual return. I told her of the many well-wishers who had left comments for her, and wished her well on your behalf. I'm sorry she will never have known of them.

As a reflection of her deep enthusiasm, I can do no more than link you to Froona's blog where her very last post was on 23rd March, celebrating Derby's first egg. The day before she had posted the amazing seqeunce of our birds mating, sent to her directly by Derby photographer, Colin Pass.

For those wishing to leave a tribute to Froona, may I suggest that we reserve sole use of Comments to this blog entry purely for those relating to her? If you're willing to do so, please give your name, town and country, and I will pass them all on to the Schlechtvalken Forum.

For all other comments and webcam observations , please post to the previous blog entry for 3rd April.

Nick Moyes
on behalf of Nick Brown and Tony Grantham
Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project

Over 40 comments were left by blog readers in memory of Froona over the course of the last 48 hours. These have all now been posted on page 5 of a special condolences thread which has been created on the Dutch Schlechtvalken Forum . I failed to mention in my original piece that it was Froona herself who created the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Webcam logo which we now use in our multi-view. It incorporates a picture of one of our own chicks, and first appeared on her main website which has a large section in Dutch on Derby's peregrines. She was only too happy to grant my request for me to embed it into our multi-view video stream, where it remains to this day.
Update 9th April: A slim white candle burnt slowly today inside Derby Cathedral. Far from this place a farewell service was held to mark the passing of a friend that none of us had met, but somehow all of us felt we knew. For many, Froona’s passion and enthusiasm was the same as our own; she just expressed it better, and in a unique way. There is now a second webforum on which you can read messages left in her memory, including photos from her funeral service held today.

Friday, 3 April 2009

There Are More Questions Than Answers . . .

Webcam image captured Friday 3rd AprilDerby's peregrine falcons are now incubating four eggs. After all the recent activity and excitement it will be a reasonably quiet time now on the webcameras. The periods when the eggs are all on view like this will be short, indeed.

A vast number of comments have been left recently. Thanks to everyone who either asked or answered them for us. To read or leave comments, simply go to the bottom of the current blog entry and click "COMMENTS". It's always worth scrolling down through them to see what has been said recently. If your question is a topical one, you may well find it's already been answered. Simply complete the comments box and type in the word verification letters, which prevents spamming. This is a blog about peregrines, and it's rare for the Project Team to feel the need to remove off-topic remarks, as common sense usually prevails.

Don't forget the "Search Blog" box on the top left of the page to look through two years of amazingly interesting past articles! You might find much of what you're looking for there, plus some superb past photographs from a wide range of local photographers, too.

Here are answers to a few other recent comments that either need answering or repeating here:

Pudding cam just needs a clean - it's never really that murky over Derby!Mucky Lens View of tower cam (aka pudding cam) showing how close the peregrines get to it. We'll clean it as soon as we can
The smudgy tower-cam lens (peregrine poo, we think) will be cleaned sometime next week, weather and health permitting. This will mean having to dismantle the mounting one lunchtime, so be prepared for some unusual camera shots. Why does it get called Pudding Cam? - well, you can find out here on our archive for January 16 2008 and January 24th 2008. Or investigate how far we've come in two years by looking back at our archive for January and February 2007 when we were busy blogging about trying to install our very first cameras. (Archive links are on the far left side of this page. )

Video Server
The "Multi-Image View" from our three camera feeds was swapped around yesterday because one of its video-processing circuits keeps freezing up. This has been happening for some time. We took advice from our suppliers about replacing the video server, but were advised against it for now. This work-around seemed the best solution, and now logically puts the tower cam at the top. But we're still finding one video stream freezes from time to time, but hope this leaves the main nest cam least affected. Just leave a comment if you notice this. We'll reboot the video server as soon as we can.

Someone asked via Comments how do you save webcam shots using a Mac. A reply was left to this effect: "Hold cmd + shift + 3 You should here a camera shutter sound and then the picture will be saved to your desktop with the name 'Picture 1' Hope that helps. Post up some pictures if you can."
Please ensure you send jpgs, not huge bitmap files - better still, send them to a website and post us the link!

WC Facilities in Derby Cathedral:
Tony Grantham, the Cathedral's Head Verger, replied to one question about whether disabled toilet facilities are available in the Cathedral. He says the easiest access to disabled toilets is when the Cathedral's Coffee Shop is open across the road. The Cathedral itself is also very disabled-friendly as 90% is on one level (if you disregard the tower). If WC facilities are required when in the Cathedral, just have a quick word with a member of staff who will make them available for you.

Derby Cathedral from the newly redesigned Cathedral Green. Photo by Nick Brown. Its use on other sites has not been authorised by the Project Team.Is it The Real Thing?
Finally, we do need to point out that the only web-pages you'll find on the internet with genuine input from the Peregrine Project Team are this blog and related pages on our partner organisations' websites. (see "Partner Links" on left of blog). All other web pages or social network sites you may encounter are neither managed nor endorsed by us, even if they do link to us, embed our "feeds" or use our photos and text.

Everyone's enthusiasm for Derby's peregrines is really appreciated, but you'd be surprised the problems it can cause when official-looking web pages are created without involving us. Please remember that copyright also applies. In particular, we don't want to upset the photographers who generously send us their pictures. If you can't see a photo credit to repeat, just assume it's one of the Team's -so a helpful credit to the "Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project" is then much appreciated. A quick approach to us, explaining what you want to do, is often the best way to find out if there's likely to be an issue - we'll tell you. (email: Of course, done in the right way, we welcome all the links, promotion and support our amazing peregrine falcons can get!