Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Last Two Watch Points, new photo & an Update

Wednesday Watch Point Update: first a big thanks to Margaret and Brian Hobby who have run every Wednesday's WP since 25th May! They were assisted today by Margaret, one of the Cathedral Quarter rangers who has taken a special interest in the birds.
All four juvs were in view plus both parents. Several of the juveniles flew about and they seem to be ever more confident - it was good to see that.
People came from Stoke and Lichfield especially to the WP and it was good to see them. Mo & Pete came down from Belper (sorry to miss you) and a Dutch couple came to Derby from Whaley Bridge where they are staying to visit the Silk Museum only to find it closed!
They ended up at the WP and we had a good chat as well as showing them the birds. They reported that the first pair of white tailed eagles to nest in Holland have one chick.

Today (Friday 1st July) sees another Watch Point taking place, with the last
one tomorrow, Saturday 2nd July. The young have been flying about today, following their parents and noisily begging for food - so there should be plenty to see.
Saturday's Watch Point: please see the comments for an update. It was good to see many old friends & supporters - Jane and John from Belper and Joanne from Mickleover among them.

The photo to the left was taken by Jon Salloway last week and it shows the falcon with a headless moorhen. Teal feathers
have also been found under the tower recently, showing yet again the variety of the prey they take.
The second photo, also by Jon, shows a juvenile trying to catch a bumble bee (or maybe a big fly)...its first faltering step towards catching prey. Peregrines will catch very small birds but, as far as I am aware, have never been seen taking an insect.

The peregrine's smaller cousin, the hobby, regularly takes insects such as dragonflies and cockchafers in the air - more on hobbies in later post perhaps.....

Donations for the project are still trickling in but we are still well off our target so if you've enjoyed watching the breeding season unfold here in Derby, do please consider sending a donation. Details of how to do so can be obtained by scrolling down a few posts....

Nick B (DWT)

Monday, 27 June 2011

Wildlife in the city may divert you?

As depression sets in for those of you finding the web cams suddenly empty, here's some other local wildlife you might want to check out if you live in or near to Derby! If you can't get to Derby, well I'm sure there's plenty of wildlife in your neck of the woods too - even if you live in a city - so get looking!

Stock doves - rather surprisingly, a couple of these normally rural birds are often about on the cathedral tower. They can be told from
feral pigeons by the lovely irridescent greeny blue patches on their necks and the lack of long double black wing bars - they have just a very short one instead!

White letter hairstreak butterflies - there are small colonies of this delightful insect close to the cathedral. They live on and around elm trees - so first, find your elm tree! There's one just by the pedestrian bridge close to Jurys Inn, the one that crosses over to St Mary's RC Church.
They warm themselves on leaves low down early on in the day and then fly rapidly about the top of the tree once the day has warmed up. Also try the elms close to Chapel St. Car park.

Gingko trees - these very primitive Chinese trees have been planted on The Green just where we stand at the Watch Point...note their strangely shaped leaves.

Derby's (only) dolphin - well, this is a cheat - The Dolphin Pub just around the corner is the oldest pub in the city dating back hundreds of years - nice dolphin with green eyes can be seen outside!

And if you should want to see two green men (carved in stone of course) just look left and right as you enter the cathedral! The mediaeval stone masons often incorporated pagan symbols in the stone they carved all those years ago....don't tell the clergy though.....!

Sand martins You'll need to go to The Sanctuary Nature Reserve close to Pride Park Football Stadium to see these brown cousins of the swallow nesting in holes in a specially made nesting bank. Well worth the visit though....
Nick B (DWT)

The photo of stock doves is copyright John Robinson

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Caption competition, DVD and an update

Saturday Watch Point Update: all six peregrines were showing well today, despite the early rain. Two juveniles were on the cathedral and the other two on the roof of Jurys Inn.
It was good to see many people at the Watch Point including one visitor who had come over especially from the Birmingham area to see the birds 'for real'. Thanks to our volunteers today - Celia, Helen, Nikki and Joyce.
Three DVDs were sold - so perhaps it's a good moment for those who don't know about it to mention that 'The Peregrines of Derby' DVD was made a few years back but is just as topical today as it was then. Chris Packham puts in a cameo performance while much of the footage is video clips captured by Nick Moyes, showing the various stages of the breeding cycle.
To purchase a copy (price £9.95 inclusive of postage) phone the DWT office in office hours on 01773 881188 to pay by card or send a cheque payable to DWT to DWT, East Mill, Belper DE56 1XH.

Jon Salloway has been taking great photos of the peregrines for many years. The two here, taken yesterday morning, show the juvenile that was on the swimming bath roof.

If you can think up a caption for the photo of the youngster with its leg in the air, do send it in - though there's no prize for the best one!

Nick B (DWT)
Please note that the photos are copyright of Jon Salloway

Friday, 24 June 2011

Watch Points to continue plus donations feedback

News Update Friday 9pm: all four juveniles plus the falcon on the tower top, the tiercel on JI.
All rather wet looking....
Tomorrow's Watch Point should be OK - do come down, see the birds and say hello.

News Update: Friday 24th June 4:00pm
All four peregrines have now successfully left the nest. The last to leave flew out at 3:30pm today. We believe her maiden flight was OK, though are awaiting news of all six birds being seen at once - which isn't always easy!

With superb help from our volunteers, it will now be possible to continue the watch point 'season' through until, and including, Saturday July 2nd.
So do get down to Derby, see the youngsters learning to fly and do say 'hello' - if you possibly can.
Just to remind you: we run them from 11am to 1.30pm on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.
So far we have received donations on The Green of over £300 - so a big thank you to everyone who has put something in the donations box or in the plastic peregrine with the hole in its head!
We have had some lovely comments from visitors and it is just great to see how thrilled people are when they set eyes on our birds for the first time through the telescopes.
Last Saturday, this family came to Derby from Blackwell, some 20 miles away, just to see the peregrines.

All four children (Olivia, Lewis, Erin and Daisy) had a look through the telescopes and went away very well pleased with their visit - as did their parents.
We know that many other people are still making special visits to Derby just to see these magnificent birds - and that is very heartening.
Meanwhile, a big thanks to the cathedral for sharing 50/50 the proceeds from the tower tours run on the peregrine event day (30th May) - that brought us in another £112.
So far from personal donations made as a result of our appeal on the blog we have received over £1,200. Add in the other income (eg from 5 DVDs sold at watch points and the donations there) and our new total for income since April now amounts to £1652 - so we are getting close to our target of £2000! This is sufficient to meet our hardware costs and webhosting fees, but unfortunately doesn't meet costs of people's time to maintain or develop the project. We are lucky that so many people are still willing to commit some or all of their time to Derby's peregrines for free. Do please keep it coming (we may well need more next year!).
The project team extends a big thank you to everyone who has contributed so far - and there are over twenty of you (plus the class from Gorsefield Primary School in Bury, near Manchester, who sent £20 - a really marvellous effort!).

Now let's hope our four youngsters all survive their early days in the air without any further mishaps. It should be fun watching them get their aerial confidence!
Fingers well-crossed please......and keep your eyes on the comments to get the latest brief updates from the project team.
Nick Moyes, Tony Grantham and Nick Brown

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Lift Off!

For updates please see the comments by clicking on the word 'comments' below.....

A third peregrine falcon left its nest on Derby Cathedral at 15:30 this afternoon.
Thanks to amazingly nifty keyboard work by webcam-watcher, John B, we can bring you this, the only image we can now supply of the moment of departure.
Lift off

At the time of writing this post, an hour has passed and we've heard no news as to whether or not she was successful in her maiden voyage. It's currently raining in Derby, and all three of the Project Team are away from the city centre today.

We hope you will understand that, as volunteers, we can't always be there on the off-chance of anything going wrong, though we are on call should the worst happen and we would come in if we were needed. So we have to rely on our existing contacts with the local police, city rangers and vergers to keep us informed if we need to drop everything and literally come rushing to the rescue. We've also emailed staff based at The Silk Mill to ask if someone could pop-out and ascertain whether or not the lift off went as well as we might hope for. So far we've not heard back, though Matt the verger reports that there's no-one on the Green right now.

The Cathedral is open until 18:30pm tonight, so if any blog reader is able to check for us on their way home from work this evening and drop in with the news to give to Matt the verger on duty today, that would be appreciated. He can then ring one of us if we need to come up into town.

Nick Moyes and Nick Brown.

After returning home, Nick Brown later took a call from Cliff to say that all six peregrines were visible this evening. So a big thanks to him for letting us know. Whether the most recently fledged female can get herself higher up the tower remains to be seen however.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Monday's flying excitements!

Monday has been a lovely day here in Derby - blue skies and light winds (until late evening when it rained hard) - but an exciting one as well.
This morning I had a date with Ian Sky, a BBC Radio Derby reporter who wanted to pre-record an interview with me about fledging - the excitements and the worries!
Just before he arrived, 015, the flighty little male, flew from the top of the pinnacle (where
he had spent the night) and
landed somewhat unceremoniously back in the platform with his three sisters. Soon afterwards, he was off again, showing just how well he can fly now - no worries about him!
I spent the afternoon botanising near Nottingham and on the way back through Derby decided to stop and see what was happening, if anything. No sooner than I had arrived, 015 flew off from near the platform, followed by one of his sisters. The latter flew far less well than her brother, losing height and tumbling onto an old brick wall at the back of a nearby car park (see photos both by Cliff Bentley).
A small crowd quickly gathered....
There was no way she could take to the air from there so I borrowed a step ladder from the vergers and managed to climb up and catch her. After a quick photocall and a check of her colour ring (012), I put her safely in the rescue box, though not before she had used her sharp talons to dig a hole in the arm of Kath Patrick, who I'd asked to hold the box for me!
I called the local newspaper who dispatched a photographer and together we climbed the 198 steps to the top where, after many clicks of his camera, I released her on the stonework up above the platform. The falcon meanwhile was circling the cathedral, causing everyone on the streets below to look up and wonder what was going on.
An hour later, she was still there so with luck she'll stay put until tomorrow....
The falcon was quite upset when we were on the tower roof - as you would imagine. Later she had prey in her talons as she flew round - so quite an eventful afternoon!
More photos of 012 to follow I hope. Also see tomorrow's paper if you live nearby.
Nick B (DWT)

Ps. Donations are still coming in today - so thanks to everyone who has contributed so far. Donations from Watch Points have totalled £279 so far....a useful amount to add to the many personal ones. However, we are still far off our £2000 target so if you can spare a dime as they say, please do so. Details on a previous blog post.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

First One Goes, Returns and Goes again

Update Monday 20th early morning: brief recap so far: 015, the only male, has successfully flown and was high on a pinnacle late last night. He seems to be a capable flier.
The three female young are still in the nest platform early Monday morning.
Our problems may come when these birds decide to take flight - being heavier and less maneouvrable, it is the females which mostly come to grief (think of 'Cathy' and the bird ringed as 009 from 2009, both females that hit buildings). A fuller account of 015 can be found in
comment 32. NB (DWT)
The top photo of 015 was taken by Geoff Barrow, an Australian visitor to Derby, on Saturday morning when he was on top of a local shop (that's the bird not Geoff!). Thanks Geoff!

And then there were three.
This morning (Saturday) saw our first peregrine falcon leave the nest platform. It had spent the last six weeks on a small wooden ledge on the side of Derby Cathedral being fed, growing up and developing its flight feathers and wing muscles, ready for this moment. And when that moment eventually came, it did what came naturally, and it did it well.

First to fledge - ring number 015 clearly visible.
Photo courtesy of Ian Fletcher. (Click to enlarge)
Chris Marshall was there and saw the bird fly off and land safely on a nearby building - though it flew off mid- morning and hasn't been seen since, despite searching.
A call from Tony Grantham and Nick Brown informed me that our first fledged peregrine was initially safe on the top of Emily Brigden's - the clothes emporium at the top corner of Amen Alley and Irongate. The team remain on standby in case the other first flights are not so successful.

I'm afraid it won't be possible to bring you any videos of the moment of fledging as the equipment inside Derby Cathedral remains out of action whilst the Project is in a period of partial hiatus.
The photos show the bird sitting on the top of Emily Bridgen's shop (top centre of the photo) - and a close up of her.
Saturday Watch Point Report: the fledged chick (actually 015 the solitary male bird) flew off and was lost to sight heading north. No doubt he'll be sitting somewhere on a roof but a walk round the area failed to spot him. The remaining three females did quite a lot of flapping at times while the falcon mostly sat above them next to the 'pud' cam. The male stayed on Jurys Inn.

Nick Moyes/Nick Brown
for Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

All In A Flap

What a difference a two week break makes! I left England before the little white chicks chicks were ready to be ringed, and returned last weekend from a family holiday only to see four active, healthy young birds, all flapping about the nest, preening and looking eager to stretch their wings. I had envisaged a fledging date of around 23 June, though it does look like it will be earlier than that, although it's always weather dependant. Rain and wind delays their departure, and one year we saw one of our young birds being physically blown off the platform and forced to fly a few days earlier than intended! You can still see a litle bit of white down left in the image below, but they're all busy preening now and the last remnants are being rapidly lost.

So, with fledging imminent, we have alerted Derbyshire Police and the RSPCA Control Centre. They both now have all our mobile phone numbers, so Nick Brown, Tony Grantham and I will be on standby in case one or more of our birds doesn't quite make it into the air and a member of the public finds one on the ground and reports it to the authorities.

Past experience suggests that the more birds we have on the platform, the more likely it is for one or more of them not to make it into the air on their first attempt. This is presumably because they do not have so much room to exercise and strengthen their wing bones and muscles. It was for that reason that a year or two ago we fitted a "grip strip" to the platform's front lip in order to give the birds more purchase with their talons. If they can hold on better, they can exercise their wings more effectively and thus become stronger fliers when the time comes.

Whilst we generally have a policy of non-interference with these wild birds, it nevertheless seems wholly appropriate to attempt to rescue a downed bird from the busy city streets and to give it a second chance of flying by returning it to the top of the cathedral's tower. We would not encourage anyone to approach too closely if they do find a bird on the ground. Their talons are amazingly sharp and powerful, and if they're somewhere safe and away from disturbance and immediate danger, it's far better best just to leave it there until we can arrive with the Cathedral door key and the necessary equipment to safely transfer it back to the top again.

I'd like to reiterate an earlier comment I made, expressing gratitude to Nick Brown for doing so much for the project recently - a lot of it behind the scenes stuff, especially the coordination of  the watchpoints on Cathedral Green. Although our peregrines do have a world-wide audience, most viewers come from the Derby and Midlands area, and many come in person to the watchpoints on Cathedral Green, here in the heart of our city. We know that some of you like to combine a shopping trip to Derby with a chance to come and see the peregrines for yourself - and this makes eminent sense. There on watchpoint days you'll meet some of the Trust's team of keen volunteers that Nick organises, and who give their time so willingly to "man" the telescopes and share the excitement of watching peregrines in real life with all who come there.

And whilst thanks are being offered, I'd like to acknowledge everyone who has responded to the call on the previous post to donate to the Peregrine Project and give contributions to ensure its success and future development in these uncertain times. Do keep it coming!

Nick Moyes
Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project Team.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Time to donate? And an Update

Wednesday 8th: our first welcome donation (£20) came from children at Gorsefield Primary School, Radcliffe near Manchester so a big THANK YOU to everyone there - that is a wonderful start and really great that children have got together and made a contribution. Their teacher tells us that they are hooked on our birds!
To see details of our regular Watch Point events behind the cathedral scroll down a couple of posts on this blog - there's one this morning and again on Friday and Saturday. The chicks are now showing themselves! See you there?

With our chicks growing rapidly - and hopefully all looking fit and healthy this year - now is a good time for us to ask you 'web cammers, blog followers and commentators' for a contribution to keep the project running.
In previous years you've been very generous....and we need you to be again this year.....perhaps even more so given the difficulties we have experienced over the winter.

Watching wildlife, whether virtually or for real, gives so many of us great pleasure and enriches our lives. In return, there is so much we can all do - and donating to keep this project running (and inspiring the young like Thomas (shown here) and the old - like me - NOT shown here!) is just one of them.

(If you are also interested in finding more about and perhaps joining the wildlife trust then please ask for some literature to be sent to you - you don't have to live in the county to belong).

Here's what you need to know to make a donation to support the costs of running the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project.

The Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (one of the project partners) is a registered charity and a 'not for profit' organisation. It is the best (indeed the only) recipient of project funds. The Trust holds your donations, then pays the bills on behalf of any partner as required.

Rest assured that any money given to the Wildlife Trust will be used only to support this project provided you clearly state it is for the Peregrine Project. All donations, however small or large, are acknowledged either by email or letter. Note that UK donors can increase the value of their donation by Gift Aid. (If you have donated and gift aided before we should still have your form so there's no need to fill out another).

All donors will be individually thanked either by a letter or by email. With current difficulties in changing the home page (where we have recorded the names of donors in the past), we will publish a list of donors (but not the amount they donated) here on the blog. You can choose whether to be anonymous, to have your full name used or some semi-anonymous abbreviation (eg Mrs S from Matlock or Stan D from Whaley Bridge). Let us know your preference.

You can donate in one of the following ways:

UK donors:
1) 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 only for the peregrine project (plus your address so we can thank you).

2) Ring the Trust office in office hours (01773 881188) and make a payment over the phone by debit/credit card (office hours are 9am to 5pm, weekdays, to 4.30 Fridays).

3) ) You can also use the donation mechanism on the Trust's website at derbyshirewildlifetrust.org.uk
Go to 'support us/make a donation'. We use Virgin Moneygiving and find it works very well.

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:
1) Please email enquiries@derbyshirewt.co.uk asking for the codes you need so your bank can transfer money to the DWT account. (Unfortunately Gift Aid does not apply unless you are a tax payer in the UK.) Note that banks may charge for this service.

2) Donors from most overseas countries can also ring the Trust (weekdays on 011 44 1773 881188 ) to pay by credit card......as long as you can work out when the office is open of course (check the webcam timestamp!)

3) Use our online donation mechanism visa our website - see No. 3 above.

Payments should only be made to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, the partner best placed to receive donations. No other organisation or website is authorised to collect funds on our behalf.
It helps if you clearly mark on your payment that it is for use by the Peregrine Project for use in either just the current financial year or, better 'this and next financial year' (this allows us to carry your money over from year to year should we need to - ie if we were to have a surplus).

Thank you in advance,

Nick B (of DWT), on behalf of The Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project.