Sunday, 31 May 2009

Watch Point May 30th

Watchpoint Report Saturday 30 May, by Andy and Chris Marshall:

A beautiful sunny day today in Derby. We had a steady stream of visitors, some new (including a German family) and some now well known to us.

There was little activity from either of the adult peregrines throughout with the male sat on the top right “gargoyle” until he flew off just after midday towards the town centre. The female spent most of the session sat just below the nest platform, in the shade, dozing and occasionally preening although she did do a couple of laps of the Cathedral before returning to her perch.

The chicks performed well, putting on regular displays of wing flapping although it wasn’t until we came away that all four were seen at the same time. By next weekend, they should all have lost most of their down and be spending a lot of time perched on the edge of the platform exercising their wings ready for fledging – a sight definitely worth seeing!

Other sightings were 5 Painted Lady butterflies and sparrowhawks – one at midday, a female, flew past us and between the Cathedral and the building to the right carrying a prey item (possibly a Blackbird) but was gone in an instant (are they breeding somewhere nearby?). The other was seen overhead climbing in a thermal before heading off to the south. This didn’t bother our female at all – she just carried on preening as if nothing had happened. Sparrowhawks are obviously considered less of a problem than buzzards!

Thanks again to Celia for coming down to help us.

Monday, 25 May 2009

Common tern on the menu & watch point feedback

Please note: there will be a Watch Point on Friday 29th May weather permitting!

Given the rain, today's watch point (Weds 27th) has been cancelled.

Joyce Sawford, one of many who visited the top of the tower today, took this photo of a cached common tern in a lead gutter on the West side of the tower.

Common terns have been recorded as prey items before at Derby - as has one specimen of the very closely related arctic tern. This bird was wearing a Swedish ring when it was taken by one of the peregrines - probably in late April/early May 2007.

The bird's remains, including the leg and ring (see photo) were found on the nave roof in August of the same year when Tony and I went up to clean out the gutters. Checking with Swedish ringers, the bird had been ringed as a chick in June 2002 - so it was nearly five years old when it died.

This tern species migrates to the antarctic every winter - one of the longest migrations of any bird on the planet - so this bird (and its ring!) had travelled maybe 100,000 miles during the ten migration flights it had made......a remarkable traveller!

Common terns breed locally in the River Trent valley nearby, nesting on islands and special rafts on reservoirs and gravel pit islands. Arctics, by contrast, are coastal breeders. This bird was probably blown off its usual migration route up the English Channel by strong Easterly winds in late April, forcing it NW to Derbyshire where a flock of 80 was observed at that time at a local reservoir....a fascinating story!

Report on today's Watch point (25th) and tower tours from Andy and Chris:
( Many other activities were also taking place today) Many thanks to Helen and Celia for their help on the watchpoint which became very busy at times.Today started well with ideal weather for watching the birds, warm and slightly overcast followed by a little sun.On arrival the male was sat on the waterspout, the female on the edge of the nest platform and a chick was showing well, pulling some of the down from his body to reveal the feathers now well formed beneath. Some of the down became stuck to the top of mums head for a short time, (Wayne has a picture of this).We had a good turn out of visitors, some regular and some visiting for the first time. It is always great to see everyone and have the opportunity to share views of the birds with them. I hope those who visited for the first time but are regular visitors to the website now have a better idea of where everything is placed.At approx 11am mum flew of and was gone for some time, leaving dad in charge. When the first of the tower tours reached the roof, dad flew displaying nosily but quickly settled after they departed. (There are strict regulations restricting access to the area on the roof nearest the nest to minimise disruption.)Dad flew off leaving the chicks alone for a time. The chicks are now happy to be left and were flapping their wings which were visible from the watchpoint below. Mum returned without any prey and called for the male who she appeared to be able to see but we could not. Two buzzards flew high over the watchpoint at approx 2pm tracked by the male, however they were clearly too far away to be considered a threat. The watchpoint closed at 2.30 when the first few spots of rain started to fall. Wow what timing!!

Nick B (DWT)

Watchpoints this week

Apart from the special Watch Point and Tower Tours today (Monday 25th) as outlined by Tony in a comment to the last post, there will be the usual watch points on Wednesday (27th), Friday 29th and Saturday (30th May).

Details of future ones will follow during the week.

Nick B

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Temporary Camera Problem

After yesterday's succesful ringing, (see video here) our webcam images have frozen this evening. They should be back online tomorrow morning. After this evening's service, Tony, our stalwart Head Verger, climbed the 82 steps of the tower to the halfway point to check our internet equipment. All seemed fine, so we think the fault must lie with the end of the 2-way radio internet link in The Silk Mill - Derby's Museums of Social and Industrial History. We're hoping its simply a case of an accidental unplugging of our wireless bridge connection. Easily done in today's climate of trying to save council tax payer's money and the environment by switching off all unnecessary equipment. We'll see tomorrow.

Meanwhile, here are some of today's pictures uploaded to our Flickr Group Pool:
by rejsharp
Derby Peregrines 180

Derby Peregrines 177

Derby Peregrines 179

Chick Ringing 2

Here is a video of yesterdays ringing of the four peregrine falcon chicks on Derby Cathedral. It took place at 7pm last night, and was quickly over. Our thanks to the two volunteer ringers - Ant and Martin - who have many years of ringing experience between them. Ant believes we have two males and two females, based on their size and degree of development.

Even before we had left the tower the female was back at the nest platform, though was not surprisingly a little unsettled to begin with.

by Marski2009
Derby Peregrines ringed chicks 4

Derby Peregrines ringed chicks 3

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Chick Ringing

The ringing of our checks may be happening tonight, subject to fair weather.
The webcams will be off during this time, so the images may appear frozen from around 7pm local time.

As usual the police have been given prior notice, and our two ringers are both licenced and very experienced. And with 18 Wildlife Liaison Officers specifically charged with investigating wildlife-related crimes in Derbyshire, the last thing we want is to have someone report illegal activity around the nest site from halfway around the world.

The process is very quick and although the parents fly around the skies above calling continuously, they soon return - often within the hour.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Camera Problems

Derby Peregrines 154

For a short while we had our main camera stuck on night-time imaging today, but the problem with its iris control now seems to have been resolved. Whether this will cause a return to the alternating between day/night illumination that we had last year, only time will tell.

We've also been investigating the problems reported in early May whereby some users failed to get a refreshed image, whilst others had no problems. Both ends of the system (ie Streamdays and Derby City Council) doubt it has to do with them, or if it has to do with too many users watching at once. But the problem does seems to have ceased now that we're down to around 5,200 hits webcam per day from peaks around 7,000 at egg-laying time.

So, even if not grounded in hard evidence, could we suggest that you consider closing (or following a link away from) the webcam page when you've finished watching - especially as interest peaks again as the chicks approach fledging time?

It may also be timely for the Project Team to remind everyone that this blog's comments page is in danger of becoming more like a discussion forum, with lots of comments going back and forth unnecessarily. However, one particularly helpful comment has been left by Roger Sharp to aid people in uploading photos to our Flickr Group Pool. Follow this link to see images of how to do it. And just as with comments not relevant to the main purpose of this site, photos not relating to Derby Cathedral and its birds are liable to be be removed from the Flickr Pool.


Here are some of our webcam images captured by viewers on May 19th and uploaded to our Flickr Group Pool.

by Fiona Arrowsmith
family meeting

by k_15H0r3
19 05 09

by Ann ( Canada )
A Tender Moment

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Watchpoint Report for Saturday 16 May

by A & C Marshall
falcon reduced j peg

It was a quiet day in all respects. We had around 60 visitors during the session. The female peregrine spent quite a while perched on the waterspout by the pudding cam or on the pinnacle above, giving good views between rain showers. The male was absent for most of the session, being seen briefly at around 11.00 escorting 2 buzzards off to the Northeast. He returned briefly during a rain shower at around 12.30 before heading off to the North. From about 11.30 the female spent most of her time brooding the chicks to protect them from the inclement weather but at around 13.00 she too flew off purposefully over the Assembly Rooms before returning from the North with a pigeon, followed closely by the male – the assumption being that he had caught the bird and passed it to his mate out of our sight.

We left with the female feeding the chicks who could be seen quite clearly. Hopefully, by next weekend, the chicks will be big enough to be regularly seen well from the Watchpoint rather than the brief glimpses we have been getting.

Thank you to all those who turned up to see these birds in such indifferent weather and a big thank you to Celia and Helen for their help running the Watchpoint.

Phoebe, a newcomer to our Watchpoints later wrote:
@ Andy and Chris It was good to meet you on Saturday, we thoroughly enjoyed the day despite the rain showers. I was wonderful to see these birds in life! It was my first time and I am hooked already!I would like to thank you, Wayne and everyone else there for your information and use of scopes etc
The photo above is by Colin Pass.

Friday, 15 May 2009

Hello World!

abcdef 004

Watchpoints are now underway at Derby Cathedral's newly renovated Green - subject to reasonable weather of course. Follow this link for all dates on our Watchpoint Calendar. Do come down betwen 10.30-1.30 to see Derby's peregrines for yourself. They might even wave to you, as one did for local photographer, Colin Pass, recently!

Our four chicks really are growing rapidly. Ths mornng one went for a walk-about on the nest platform and gave a good display of its developing flight feathers.

It will soon be time to try and ring our own birds which we're hoping to arrange for later in the week (weather permitting) . Worcester's peregrines have just been ringed and have featured on BBC TV

Here are some shots uploaded recently to our Flickr Group Pool
16th May :

by Karen Anne, U.S.,
feeding time May 16, 2009

by Jennie, Hong Kong
16May09 16.53.30

by Ann ( Canada ),
peregrines 2009 4

15th May:

by k_15H0r3
15 05 09

by falconquester2001
small reduced j peg

by pocd1
Whats for dinner Mum

by waynerawson84

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Schools and Webcams

Many local schools are avid watchers of Derby Cathedral's Peregrine Falcons, often watching the live webcam feed on their electronic whiteboards. Of course, most schools are blocked from viewing YouTube videos and blogs, which is probably a good thing bearing in mind some of the content we see. But many children do read this blog with their parents at home, and we welcome you all. (Perhaps grown-ups could bear this in mind when leaving comments that children might read? Technical terms can sometimes be a bit hard to follow)

Last year we reported that a number of schools across Derbyshire had installed nest boxes of their own, and had joined together to share images from their nest box cameras. It’s called the Derbyshire Schools Birdcam Project. This year even more have joined and all are now enjoying the opportunity to witness the nesting habits of birds at first hand.

Not every school has been lucky enough to have activity in their own boxes - that's nature for you. But they can all enjoy the successes of other schools through their project website and blog. Each school also has their own birdcam blog where children, parents and members of the community record their observations. All comments are moderated prior to publication online, of course.

Right now there is plenty to watch in the school boxes:
The first blue tit chicks hatched out over the May Day Bank Holiday weekend. This was followed by a succession of hatchings in other boxes including two great tit broods, with the final couple expected by this weekend. This year, the project schools are also enjoying images from a camera set up over a kestrel nest site at Povey Farm near Dronfield. Six eggs have been laid with the chicks due to hatch towards the end of this month."

Next week Derby Museum & Art Gallery welcomes the children from Brigg Infants on a school educational visit to trial run our new peregrine falcon teaching session. Here's some work they did based on our birds last year:

For schoolchildren it’s probably far more exciting to watch a blue tit feed a caterpillar to baby birds in their own school nest box than it is to watch peregrine falcons miles away up a Cathedral Tower. But all around us spring marches on, and very soon UK TV's annual "BBC Springwatch" will be starting. This is a two week opportunity for the whole country to stop what it's doing for one hour each evening and sit enthralled by some of the most amazing live views of UK nature that TV engineers can provide. Still not as good as your very own blue tits and peregrines, though!

Here are some images uploaded by viewers to Flickr today.
First, a great compilation by showing how the chicks grow and develop so rapidly by rejsharp.

growing chicks

by rejsharp
Derby Peregrines 117

by Marski2009
14 may 09  tiercel and feral pigeon

The Atkins Diet

High-quality videos of Derby's peregrine falcons are captured from recording equipment inside the Cathedral's ancient gritstone tower. Sadly, published videos always lag a day or so behind the real events happening on the side of the tower where our birds have their nest.

The video below was captured on 12th May, showing them to be fit, active and feeding well. We need not worry about how well they are fed. Peregrines have been doing this for tens of thousands of years. Inevitably not all chicks will survive in a brood - and that's nature. But our videos show that the parents are doing a pretty fair job in giving their offspring a reasonable chance in life by feeding them regularly throughout the day. The Atkins diet personified!

The pictures below were captured by viewers on 13th May 2009:

by Marski2009
16 28 48

by Dave Arrowsmith
that's it, I'm off!

by cocotags
2009.05.13   16.39

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Calendar of Watchpoints 2009 (End of season update)

  • Peregrine Watchpoints have now finished for the 2009 season!

    They ran on the following dates on Cathedral Green between 10.30am - 1.30pm on all dates below.


  • Saturday May 16th.
  • Wednesday May 20th.
  • Friday May 22nd.
  • Saturday May 23rd.
  • Bank Holiday Monday May 25th. (& Tower Tours)
  • Wednesday May 27th
  • Friday May 29th
  • Saturday May 30th


  • Thursday June 4th
  • Friday June 5th
  • Saturday June 6th (Fledging week)
  • Wednesday June 10th
  • Thursday June 11th
  • Friday June 12th
  • Saturday June 13th
  • Sunday June 14th
  • Wednesday June 17th
  • Thursday June 18th
  • Friday June 19th
  • Saturday June 20th

Cathedral Green is at the rear of Derby Cathedral on Full Street. Telescopes were set up between 10.30am and 1.30pm. Organised by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, the Watchpoints were all run by volunteers who were on hand to help people use the 'scopes and talk about Derby's peregrines. View our location map on the left side of this blog, or follow this link for a larger map.
Photo Colin Pass.

Visitor Facilities
Even though watchpoints are closed, there is always a good chance of seeing a peregrine, no matter what time of year you visit.

There are numerous food outlets in Derby's Cathedral Quarter, including the Cathedral Centre's own restaurant and takeaway service (though this is closed on Sundays).

Next to Cathedral Green is The Silk Mill Museum (with toilet facilities). There are lots of nearby shopping and leisure opportunities, including Queen Street Swimming Baths and the new Westfield Shopping Centre, two more Museums and the new Quad visual arts centre

The Tourist Information Centre is just 2 minutes walk away, and the Riverside Quarter Trail and Upper Derwent Trail start just 15 seconds away. Follow this link to find out more about the numerous parking options when visiting Derby.

(If travelling by car, why not use the Park n' Ride at Pride Park next to Derby County Football Stadium where you can view The Sanctuary Bird Reserve (with disabled access) and watch sand martins, lapwings, wheatear and skylarks from within the car park, before getting your £2.20 bus into town which stops less than a 2 minute walk from Derby Cathedral.)

Whatever you do, enjoy your visit to Derby and marvel at our brilliant birds.

The Peregrine Project Team

Feeding Time

Our chicks are growing up fast. This video clip was captured on Monday May 11th.

Just to remind you, our chicks hatched between 29th April and 2nd May 2009, and should be ready to fly sometime around 6th June. It's unlikely that they will all survive to become adults, but this is nature at work. The first year of a peregrine's life is fraught with danger as it learns to master the skies. For now we can enjoy watching their development and marvel at how fast they grow.

We'll be posting a Calendar of all our organised Watchpoints later tonight so some of you can book a time to come into Derby city centre to see the birds for yourselves.

Here are some more screenshots captured by watchers to our webcams today;

by Marski2009
Where is mum off too

by rejsharp
Derby Peregrines 105

by k_15H0r3

Monday, 11 May 2009


by Andy M. & Chris M.

A nice, bright breezy day saw about 100 visitors to the first watchpoint of the year on Derby's Cathedral Green.

Photo from Watchpoint in 2007We were treated to quite a good session with the falcon chasing her mate off a food cache at about 11.00 and feeding the chicks for a good quarter of an hour. Several visitors had very good views of the chicks being fed (some a bit too good and gory).

The tiercel [i.e. male] flew off eventually and was seen occasionally throughout the session, once flying past us with a small prey item. At around midday, he was seen high above the Cathedral with a Sparrowhawk below him. Both drifted off in opposite directions.

Around 13.00, the falcon became restless and left the nest for a short hunting trip, never losing sight of the Cathedral, and we were treated to her stooping onto two pigeons about 1/2 a mile away to the North. She was unsuccessful and eventually returned to the nest and fed on the remains of an earlier meal which had been left in the nest tray.

white pigeon 011
Photo by Colin Pass. Caption: No, I have not seen a white feral pigeon honest.

As Nick B mentioned earlier in the blog, and as regular visitors to Cathedral Green have thought for a couple of years, this tiercel doesn't seem to be the best of providers which is probably why the falcon has been seen taking squabs from pigeon nests around the Cathedral this last week. However, they are experienced parent who have successfully fledged every chick hatched, so there is no reason to think this won't be as successful!

All in all, a good day with pleasant and useful company throughout from Wayne and Colin (see earlier comments).

If you live within striking distance of Derby, I strongly recommend you visit one of the Watchpoints and see these marvellous birds for yourselves. We will definitely be in attendance on every Saturday throughout May (10.30 - 13.30) weather permitting and on other dates to be announced - see the diary pages for updates.

From Project Team:
Next official Watchpoint is on Saturday 16th May. 10:30am - 1:30pm

We'd also like to thank the bell ringers of Derby Cathedral who rang a 50-minute "quarter peal" of bells on Sunday 10th May in memory of Froona Veldhuis, a dedicated peregrine enthusiast from Holland who had written much about Derby's peregrines and many other sites in the northern hemisphere.
Our thanks, too, for lots of helpful replies to questions left on this blog's comments.


Here are some images uploaded to Flickr by webcam viewers on Monday May 11th

by Colin Pass
monday 11 05 09 058 Derby Tiercel

by Dave Arrowsmith
I can see you!!!

by rejsharp
Derby Peregrines 86

by rejsharp
Derby Peregrines 101

by Marski2009
dad gets told off

Thursday, 7 May 2009

DVD and First Watch Point!

Late note: there will be a formal Watch Point at the Cathedral Green tomorrow Saturday 9th May between about 10.30 and 1.30. Another one will take place the following Saturday (16th), same times.
Further news of watch points will follow during next week.
DVD:Newcomers to the Derby Cathedral peregrine site may be interested to learn that last year a 35 minute DVD was produced which tells the story of these birds, has video clips of the whole breeding season and features not only the project team but also Chris Packham, the well known TV presenter (and now a BBC Springwatch presenter for the coming series starting soon).

By post you can get one (plus postage) from The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust by phoning 01773 881188 in office hours and using your credit/debit card. This method has been used successfully by many people perfectly safely, eg for making donations, paying for subscriptions to the Trust (we have 12,000 members) etc.

The price is just £6 (exclusive of P&P - please ask what has to be added to cover this). Also note that, thanks to the generosity of the producer of the DVD, £5 of your money goes straight to the project as a donation.

So you get an excellent DVD and make a donation to the project at the same time...a win/win

Please note that The Cathedral Centre and Derby Museum & Art Gallery both now have monitors showing the live web cams. So you can see what's happening on the nest either as you drink a coffee or have a bite to eat at The Cathedral Centre (or take it away with you!) or as you stroll around one of Derby's three museums - well worth a few hours of your time, especially should you be strangers to the city.

The Cathedral Centre is open 10 - 4 ......but is closed on Sundays.

The Museums are open 10 - 5 except just between 1- 4 on Sundays.

Tony G, Nick B & Nick M

Here are some recent pictures from our Flickr Pool taken by webcam watchers on (8th May 2009).
by nja1969:

by dave arrowsmith:
08 05 at 14.31

afternoon feed

by crazeycoco:
08 05 at 14.30

by n1ck1ee:
keeping an eye out

Here are some recent pictures from our Flickr Pool taken by webcam watchers on (7th May 2009).
by cocotags:
19.22 here ya go

by rejsharp:
Derby Peregrines 78

by christineself32:
Show a Leg

by cocotags: dad 16.07

by Dave Arrowsmith:
little tiddlers big adventure
by k_15H0r3
Parent feeding