Sunday, 28 August 2011

More photos from the summer - and a diversion

Dave King recently sent me a CD with photos he had taken back in June. So here are a few just to remind you of our birds. It seems a long time ago now that the nest platform was busy with activity. And a long time until next season too.

Meanwhile, if you want to keep track of some wildlife, you could follow the journeys made by several satellite tagged ospreys, some of which have already started to make their way down to West Africa (the experienced female Beatrice and the young male Joe for example).
Roy Dennis, who set up The Highland Foundation for Wildlife, has been tagging ospreys for several years now and it has been fascinating to watch the journeys these big birds of prey make day by day as they fly down from the Highlands of Scotland where they breed to their wintering grounds in West Africa. Just google Roy Dennis and you'll arrive at his website.
I see that Joe made an epic non-stop 470 kms in a day flight recently, ending up on the west coast of France - and this only two months since he made his first flight ever!
I've been out watching local hobbies recently. These small falcons, relatives of the peregrine, have just fledged their young and before long, they too will be heading off south for Africa.
Both ospreys and hobbies are day migrants and they can be seen at various raptor watch points such as those in the Pyrenees and in southern Spain but always singly, never in the large groups that some other raptors, such as honey buzzards and black kites, can be seen flying in. Only a few days ago, almost 3000 honey buzzards were seen passing over the Pyrenees in a single day from one famous watch point called Organbidexka.....a wonderful spectacle.

Nick Brown (DWT)

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Bell Ringing Demonstration and Tower Tours

Ring the bells and see the view!
This Saturday, 27th August, is the Cathedral Bell Ringers Open Day.

Derby Cathedral is hosting a Bellringers’ Tower Open Day and an exhibition of photographs of the bells between 10am and 4pm.

Tower climbs will be offered every half hour and will take in the views from the top of the tower across Derbyshire.

The Carillon is like a giant musical box that plays tunes on the Cathedral’s ten bells.

At the 11.30am climb, visitors will be able to see and hear the Carillon in action.


Visitors will see the ‘oldest ring of ten’ in the world, learn about bell ringing and have the opportunity to ring a bell themselves!

Admission is £2 for adults and £1 for children (only children age 8 years and older are allowed up the tower).

Nick B (DWT)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

All goes (relatively) quiet

As we get further into August, so things at the cathedral seem to have gone relatively quiet though I gather that up to three juveniles (plus both adults) have been seen recently on the tower and on Jurys Inn (thanks Ian B for that information).

The adults are certainly due a rest after such a busy season. Rearing four chicks must take its toll.

Adult peregrines have to moult their feathers annually. This usually begins during or just after the nesting season but there is a good deal of variability apparently.
Moult begins with the primary
(outer wing) feathers and can take between18 and 26 weeks to complete.
I have found many moulted peregrine feathers under the tower over the years as my photo shows.
Meanwhile, the close relative of the peregrine, the hobby, still has y
oung in the nest. This
falcon is smaller than the peregrine and is also a migrant. It spends the winter down in southern Africa, only returning to the UK in May. The whole breeding season is about two months later than that of the peregrine. Hobbies are very fast fliers, taking small birds on the wing but they also love to eat insects. In Africa they follow thunderstorms that trigger the swarming of termites. In the UK, when they arrive back in May, they can be seen at several wetlands hawking insects including early damsel and dragonflies.
Last weekend I helped with the ringing of a brood of
young hobbies
only a few miles out of Derby. These birds select old crow nests to nest in and this pair had chosen one in a large oak tree in the middle of a field of wheat.
The earliest of the young hobbies will only just be making their first flights, with some not doing so
until later in August. By the end of September these youngsters set off south, heading down through France and Spain to North Africa and then on to West and even South Africa.

Apparently at this stage they are unable to catch birds, relying solely on insects for their food.

The photo shows a young hobby about to be ringed

What a different lifestyle hobbies have from our peregrines.....

Nick B (DWT)

The painting of a hobby chasing a dragonfly is by Dan Powell