Friday, 11 November 2011

Tony Grantham, an interview with him & a Raptor Rescue

Webcam Update:
Derby City Council whose network connections we use for our webcams has changed its website today. If you are having difficulty accessing the normal webcam pages, please use the links in the Webcam Tab on our blog's homepage.

Hear Tony's long interview on BBC Radio Derby on Monday at:  (it's 1hr 8 minutes in)
News has reached us that Tony Grantham, the cathedral's Head Verger for the last eleven years, has just resigned from his post and will leave the cathedral's employment at the end of January 2012 to begin work in the family business, which urgently needs more manpower.
Tony has been an essential element in the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project since it began way back in 2005.
It was he who rang Nick B at the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust early in 2005, hoping that the trust could provide some clues as to why he and the other vergers were finding dead birds on the pavements outside the cathedral.
And, once he knew about the peregrines, it was Tony
who quickly became interested in them and helped to 'unlock cathedral doors' for us, both real and imagined.
He gave us access to the tower to look both for bird remains and for the birds themselves and he quickly became an avid peregrine watcher and web cam addict in his own right.
It is fair to say that without his help and guidance in
those early years especially, this project might well not exist today. In particular, he managed to persuade the cathedral hierarchy at the time to allow Nick M and his mate, Nick E, to fix the nest platform. Ever since, Tony has bent over backwards to help us and the watch point volunteers in all manner of ways.
He has helped with rescuing fallen youngsters, helped organise the ringing of the chicks and the various annual nest clean-up operations. He found us somewhere to store the gear for the Watch Points, looked after the donations, brought in signs when we had forgotten to do so and drove back to the cathedral from home to help out when we urgently needed it.
Tony always has a cheerful disposition and we couldn't have wished for a better Head Verger to assist us.
The good news is that Tony will continue to be part of the project as a volunteer next year, helping at special events, opening up the tower for us when we need evening or early morning access for ringing etc - so we are not losing him entirely.
We wish him well working alongside his wife Dawn in their family business which has grown by leaps and bounds in the last few years.
Tony: you have been a real friend and an amazing advocate for the peregrines. You have been the 'quiet man' of the three of us, always willing to help and to assist.
We will miss your cheerful presence at the cathedral hugely! With luck we'll lure you back to help out from time to time - if you can get some free time that is!

Nicks M and B

The photos show Tony watching as chick 005 was rescued in 2008 (top) and standing by as another rescued youngster was released on the tower roof (below).

Raptor Rescue: last Friday I got a message that a peregrine was trapped in the huge Westfield shopping centre in the city so I quickly set off to investigate. As I suspected, the bird wasn't a peregrine but was a sparrowhawk. It had chased some avian prey inside the large entrance lobby and found itself behind a huge wall of glass. It was about 30 feet up and would never find its way out. The maintenance staff quickly brought a cherry picker along and I climbed
into the bucket cab and was hoisted aloft as an audience of onlookers gathered below. Fortunately the bird was easy to catch and release, much to the disgust of the fleeing local feral pigeons. It's not unusual for sparrowhawks to end up inside buildings as their prey seeks cover. They fly upwards and rarely make their own way out.
All's well that end's well on this occasion!

Nick B (DWT)
Photo; the male sparrowhawk just prior to release. It was panting but flew off strongly into the blue beyond.

Monday, 7 November 2011

The Big Two Million

Derby's peregrine falcons now have a global reach.
But can we do more to reach new audiences closer to home?
This month saw the number of online visits or “hits” to the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project’s webcameras top the 2 million mark. This is a real milestone for us, especially as it also marks the start of a new phase in our project.
Beginning next nesting season we want to bring live video streaming and sound to the public and to schools, and we want to increase the amount of outreach work we undertake, especially to minority audiences. We would also like to bring live 24 hour camera coverage to the cathedral itself in some way. To this end we are preparing a small grant application to the Heritage Lottery to get funds to take forward these and other plans.

We Seek Your Views
We would love to hear from you if you’ve enjoyed watching Derby City's peregrine falcons - and especially if you really get a lot out of them.

In previous years we received lots of lovely comments about the project. But now we seek answers to a few specific questions – and maybe your ideas for a title for our funding bid, too. (Your answers will help us formulate that bid.)

The sort of things we would like to know include:

1. Has watching our birds changed your life in any way?
2. Have you gone on to a greater involvement with wildlife as a result? (e.g. joined any organisations, gone to meetings, attended events you wouldn't have gone to otherwise?)
3. Have you taken any other actions for wildlife? (e.g. donated to projects, become a volunteer, or campaigned against something as a result of being involved with our peregrines, or reading the blog?
4. Have you got someone else as hooked as you are? e.g. at work? at home? or at school? If you have persuaded others to watch the peregrine webcams, what was their reaction?
5. If you suffer from an illness or disability, what difference has the project made to your life, health or happiness?
6. What improvements would you like to see, and what new audiences ought we to try to reach? Over 60s? Disabled? etc. and how can we achieve this?
7. Finally, because we’re keen to understand the economic benefits of Derby’s peregrines, do tell us if they’ve influenced you to make special trips to Derby, where you came from, and what else you visited whilst here.

We need responses fairly quickly - so do please email us your feedback at or simply give us any other thoughts on the value of the Peregrine Project, and any reasons why you think it should be enhanced with lottery money. It's possible your comments might be compiled into the evidence we submit to the Heritage Lottery Fund. Alternatively, sign in to post a comment here on this blog.

What's in a Name?
Our funding bid needs a title. Can you help us choose one from the shortlist below? It needs to sum up the mix of conservation, community engagement and the whole ethos of what we've achieved so far. We've selected six options. Email us your favourite to, or leave a comment on our blog.

A. Fantastic Falcons
B. Peregrines are Perfect
C. Peregrines for The People!
D. Peregrines in Partnership
E. Peregrines, People and Places
F. Wrapped up with Raptors

Many thanks (in advance)
Nick's M and B