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)

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