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!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Sunday 14th (with Watch Point update)

There will be a watch point between 10.30 and about 1.30pm on Sunday, then further WPs will operate next week on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, weather permitting.

Herewith further excellent graphics work by the infants in the Red Class at Brigg Infant School for you to enjoy!

The watch point today was quieter than Saturdays in tens of people and - until about 12.30, of peregrines too. The male hadn't been seen all morning, just the female and all four young.
these young sem to be flying really confidently now. Four of us walked over to Irongate on the West side of the cathedral where we watched two or three of them landing on roofs, taking off and circling round. One of the young even flew up and perched close to its mother on the top of one of the corner pinnacles - as you can see.

011 was watched hopping along a ledge quite low on the south side of the tower...they really are getting the hang of things now. Please forgive two poor hand-held digiscoped photos.....until a proper photographer provides us with better least they give you the idea!

Nick B (DWT)

Watchpoint Report

To misquote one of our popular daily newspapers – Phew! What a scorcher!!
We had fantastic weather on the Cathedral Green today as the many visitors will no doubt testify!On the Peregrine front, the adult female spent most of the session sat on either of the two nearest pinnacles and didn’t show much inclination to do any other than keep an eye on her offspring. The adult male was seen briefly at about 11.30 hunting off to the Northeast but he didn’t return to the Cathedral before we left at 2.00 pm. Of the youngsters, we had views of a maximum of 3 birds but only two could be identified clearly from their ring numbers (these were 009 and 011). The other bird was regularly flitting between the parapet and the tower roof so it wasn’t totally clear if we had three or four of the juveniles present. Wayne did, however report seeing all four juveniles before we arrived. Unusually, we didn’t see any other raptors during the whole session –usually on a day like this, at least one buzzard drifts over.Thank you to everyone who visited the Watchpoint and thank you for your generous donations to the Peregrine Project.
Andy, Chris, Celia & Helen

The picture above is a computer-generated peregrine drawn by one of the (very) young pupils at Brigg Infants School who, with their teacher, Helen, have been keenly watching the birds since the spring. More images to follow.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Another sunny morning (updated)

Update (16:30) Male 008 has left the building -well, almost.
Latest reports are that our last bird to leave the nest was hanging on the the stonework just a short distance below the ledge. So not really a maiden flight yet. We're on standby in case a rescue is needed, but are hopeful that he'll be OK once he takes the plunge and lets go.
Subsequent update: Half an hour later one of our juveniles was back on the ledge. Is this the one that just left, and has managed to return, or is it one of the others? More information to follow later this evening.

Friday 12th has started sunny and calm in Derby.....though cloud is due to spread eastwards during the day.

Watchpoints have now been organised for today, Saturday and Sunday so do come down (or up) to Derby if you are in striking distance. There are a few DVDs on sale there but you can also order from the wildlife trust office by phoning 01773 881188 in office hours. The cathedral and museum shops may have copies for sale but did have some supply problems - please check.
Also remember that The Cathedral Centre on Irongate does excellent coffees, light meals and take-aways...well worth supporting!

Herewith some photos from flickr sent in by:

ann (Canada) - titled 'come on up',

by rejsharp (the threesome) and

by marski - showing one of the young on the roof of the cathedral.

Many thanks to them all!
Nick Brown (DWT)

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Thursday 11th updates

After a night of heavy rain, it was a bright sunny morning in Derby.

Latest update at 12.47pm: the birds were somewhat misidentified this morning (whoops!). It was the female 010 who was missing and who was later found on a roof. She has now moved to another roof on the west side of the cathedral - ie opposite to the nest platform side.
009 is still in the platform and the two males 008 and 011 are both up above the nest on the gargoyle ledge.
Sorry for the confusion earlier!
Nick B (DWT)
The photo shows the west face of the cathedral looking up St. Mary's Gate.

This shot, captured by Marski2009 at lunchtime and posted on our Flickr site clearly shows the remaining bird on the nest ledge to be number 008. All the rest are doing fine, having led everyone a merry dance by making us wonder which individual bird they are. As someone on Derby Cathedral Green said - "they're doing fine, so does it matter?" Maybe not, but its been fun and exhausting trying to keep track of them today! Once again, our thanks to the Watchpoint volunteers for manning the telescopes and chatting to so many interested passers-by.
It is 008 in the tray!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Did She Fall, or Was She Pushed?

(Update Wednesday 8 am: the flown youngster is still on one of the gargoyles on the north side of the tower where it was all night. The other three are still in the platform).

Our posting earlier yesterday (Tuesday) detailed some of the events that unfolded at Derby Cathedral's tower. The full story of that first flight can be seen in the video clip below:

For those interested to know more of what happened, here's my rather long-winded account of some of today's events:

It so happened that around lunchtime I was already inside the bell-ringing chamber, checking on yesterday's video clips when a mobile phone call came in from Nick at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. It suggested that one of our juvenile birds had left the nest. So, swapping immediately back to the live cameras I found that, sure enough, where there had just a few minutes before been four birds, now there were only three. Nick urged me to look out over the nave roof as reports from the Green suggested it may have fallen straight down onto it. But peering out of the window of Derby's highest toilet, there was no sign of the peregrine.

Rushing back to the video recorder and reviewing film captured only moments before, it soon became clear that our young bird had not taken off in usual style. Rather, she had stumbled in the breeze and lost her footing. (Or was she pushed? ). This was more serious, so a trip out onto the nave roof was called for, guided by mobile calls to Colin and Wayne out on the Green below. The adult female was calling loudly and I was watched by three juvenile birds on the tray high above me as I stepped carefully onto the lead-covered ridge of the 18th century nave roof. Walking along its full length, there was still no sign, and by now people were gathering from nearby offices, some offering to search the surrounding area. Back inside the tower, word soon came through that she had been spotted on the low roof of a nearby building. She was safe. For now.

(This great photo by Colin Pass captures 010 mid-fall! Please note that the photo is Colin's copyright) .

I returned to complete the task of putting a few clips onto DVD for our blog and for local TV, promising to drop them into to the TV station on my way back to work. I rather liked this one of the remaining three birds excitedly bouncing around the platform a few minutes after the first bird had left:

But as I was about to descend down the tower's long, dark spiral staircase another call came in . . . the bird had eventually come down and, after a bit of a chase around a car park, Colin had captured it! I wouldn't have dared do this without gloves, but Colin is an experienced falconer and knows Photo: Wayne1984how to handle the birds. So there was falcon (number 010) calmly sitting in a cardboard box in the Cathedral. We showed her to a number of young boys from Derby Cathedral Choir who had just arrived for a rehearsal and told them how, with any luck, this bird might grow up to be one of the fastest creatures on the planet.

Meanwhile Tony the Head Verger had arrived from his day off, followed shortly afterwards by a photographer from Derby Evening Telegraph whom, along with our young falcon, we took back up to the top of the tower. There she was photographed (you'll have to buy tomorrows local paper to see all the pictures, I'm afraid) and she eventually let go of the long leather gauntlets we were using to protect ourselves from those sharp talons and scuttled off into a corner. We left her there, knowing this was all we could do, but that she would be OK. Mum was circling and calling nearby and would bring her food if needs be. Soon she'd be strong enough to fly up onto the stonework ready for her second attempt at flying. Tomorrow perhaps?

Nick Moyes
Derby Museum & Art Gallery

Our thanks to David Bradley for capturing these images today of Derbyshire falcon 010.

Photo: David Bradley

Photo: David Bradley

From Flickr:
by rajenkinson
what are you doing

First one goes - stop press with updates!

A quick note to say the first youngster flew - or tried to - at about 2.30pm today Tuesday and the project team are trying to locate it now. More news when we have it.

3.25 pm update: the bird is safely on a nearby roof and it is being monitored to see if it flies up or drops down to the ground.....

UPDATE 4pm: the bird came to ground, was caught and put in a box and will shortly be on its way up to the top of the tower to be released so that it can have another go!
The suspicion is that the bird was pushed or toppled off the platform rather than made a decision to fly so to speak.

4.30 pm and a second has flown...we're trying to find out where it is! A busy afternoon!

Latest Update at 6.45 pm: the second one only got as far as the top of one of the cameras before ending up back in the there are three still in there.
The first one (010, one of the females) was taken up the tower and is now standing on the stonework on the North side of the tower. Let's hope she stays there overnight and doesn't try another flight this evening. She was clearly not too strong according to Colin who captured her and put her in the rescue box this afternoon.
Video clip and more photos to follow later this evening.
We can expect more excitements tomorrow and because of this there will be a Watch Point, between 10.30 am and 1.30pm.

Nick B (DWT)

Today's The Day . . .?

We're likely to see our first fledge today. Do please close your browsers once you've finished watching to try and avoid the problem other users experiened at peak times when some experienced freezing images, but others didn't.

Of course, we'll all be watching to keep the equipment working as well as we can, and checking out for signs of that first successful -or unsuccessful - fledge.

Here's a comment from Colin Pass after an very early visit this morning

We got down at the Cathedral before 5am. Falcon brought a pigeon in, and
left them to tuck in. A while latter the falcon dropped down and fed them, they are
still a bit lazy and would rather let mum top them up,rather than pull for
themselves. Then not to be outdone, dad decided he would feed them. I left around
7.30am they had all disappeared back onto the tray, with tennis ball crops to
digest. I guess they will not been to keen to try and fledge for a view hours at
least, to busy sleeping their large meal off.


This is Colin's who's who of our ringed peregrine family:
011 Tiercel (male) oldest
009 Falcon (female)
010 Falcon (female)
008 Tiercel (male) Youngest the only one not to venture out on the edge of the tray yesterday.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Fledging Imminent? (updated 22:00)

empty ledge 1
No, they've not fledged today! The shot above was by local photographer, Colin Pass, taken in June last year when he captured this image of the last bird to fledge from the nest ledge. Around 21:00 this evening there was a moment when reports suggested one of our birds may have left the nest for a few moments, but this is now known not to have been the case. Over the nicrophone to which the team have access, we could hear losts of calling sounds by the youg birds, with a parent up above, calling to them in return. Colin has just got back from the green, and this is what he reported at 21:50 this evening:
"Just got back both falcon and tiercel doing there best this evening to catch tea without success.Young screaming hungry. At times I thought one would get dislodged by the scambling and flapping. Tommorrow looks like the day, weather permitting, for a first flight. I might be a day out with my prediction for the 10th :) Nothing hsd left the tray by 9.30pm this evening."
This is another of Colin's recent photos:


With fledging likely any day now, there was plenty of activity in the nest platform this morning. There were times when it was very difficult to tell whether one of the birds has already flown or not, so careful checks of both camera images were often needed. But here they all were between 9.00 and 10.00am, still calling and screeching at their parents, and very actively clambering around, especially when food was being prepared by a parent up above.

Whilst it’s possible that one might fly off at any moment, past experience shows they can keep us on tenterhooks for quite a few days. And after the enforced inactivity during last weekend’s rain, this is quite likely. Here's what local falconer, Colin Pass wrote about them this morning:

"Well I have to say I have never seen peregrines as wet and soaked to the skin as the young this weekend.Lets hope for some decent weather over the next week. It would have been a disaster if they had fledged and got soaked like they were, and rendered flightless, it would have left them vulnerable to say the least especially if grounded. I suggest they get their oil gland motivated and get preening. If the weather holds they can get some serious wing pumping done and build up their pectoral muscles. If they follow form, and none of them are pushed :(011 should attempt to take to the skies first. I was lucky enough to see a couple make their first flights last year, I hope I am lucky enough this year."

Of course, the Team are all one standby in case one should come down – and we’ve already taken our first call from someone who saw a sparrowhawk on top of a car in Derby city centre this morning and not unreasonably thought it may have been one of our young birds. A quick check showed that all four birds were still in place.
With all this nest activity, we’ve put the second nest camera full size onto what was our "multi-view" page, but we’ll turn this back once fledging has happened as there should then be lots of activity around the top of the tower itself. So for just a short while, there'll be no image feed from the top of Derby Cathedral's magnificent tower.

The picture below was captured by rejsharp earlier this morning:
Derby Peregrines 270

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Much Flapping and Feeding

Here are some images captured this evening (Sunday) from our webcams. After the weekend's rain eventually eased off there seemed to be much more activity in the nest platform, and we're hoping that our new "grip strip" is letting the juvenile birds get a really good purchase on the side of the ledge in readiness for their first flights in the next few days. (The ring number seems to be 009 rather than 008).

Look at me........
Thanks to Sara6768 for capturing this last image and posting it on our Flickr group (see link on left margin of this page).

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Wet and cold (updated)

Today (Saturday) in Derby started very wet and cold with little likelihood of any fledging. With continuous drizzle, the Watchpoint was eventually cancelled, as was announced in our comments.

Just look at those youngsters...bedraggled or what! Thanks to Roger Sharp for the photo capture. At 10.30am one of the adults sat, soaked through, in a stony alcove high above the nest site. It was so wet that it was impossible to see its features, let alone determine its gender!

To try and make up for no Watchpoint, here's a video clip from early yesterday morning before all the rain started. Many of us have seen how both parents and juveniles can turn their backs to eject a stream of waste matter away from the nest site, but this clip shows an interesting variation on the same theme! Note, too, the flurry of white feather from the nest as wings are flapped.

Here are some recent screen-captures of our four, sometimes rather bedraggled, young peregrines taken this weekend 6th/7th June 2009:
On the edge!

by rejsharp
Derby Peregrines 260

by Marski2009
01 - In flies Mum with Prey

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Some recent pixs

Herewith ex-flickr photos of the youngsters getting adventurous, the top one courtesy of Marski2009 and the second from rejsharp...... and the last from Jennie in Hong Kong showing how the virtually fluff-less youngster is beginning to look almost like an adult (except for the dark flecks on the mantle visible in this view).

At least the weather in Derby today
(Wednesday) is much cooler and
there's rain forecast in the next
few days too...that should help
them cool off a bit!

Thanks for the photos folks!

Nick B (DWT)