Thursday, 31 December 2009

Video Clips

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

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

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

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

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

8 March 2009. Mating Sequence (1 )

16 March 2009 Mating Sequences (2)

16 March 2009 Mating Sequences (3)

7th April 2009 Male at night on top of tower

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

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

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

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

1 May 2009 Chick no 4 hatches.

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

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

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

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

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

9th June 2009 Fledging activity

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

Follow this link for video clips from 2007

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

Thursday, 24 December 2009

A good read

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 11 December 2009

A different bird for Christmas? (updated)

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

Various remains including the head of a Golden Plover

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

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

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

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