Thursday, 31 May 2012

Of Peregrines, People and Places plus the latest news

Update Tuesday 12th June: THE LIVE STREAM with audio IS WORKING AGAIN!!! Tuesday evening and it's bell ringing practice time - what a noise as heard via the live stream! The chicks seem to be moving in time with the bells too! NB.
Saturday 9th June: Andy and Chris Marshall had a busy watch point today and took over £50 worth of donations (including two £10 notes - so special thanks for those donors!) Chris Marshall wrote:

Another cold and dull day for the watchpoint. Although the wind had dropped from the overnight levels it was still very breezy on the green.
We started with the female on the waterspout and the female juvenile showing well on the platform. My word you can clearly see a difference even from Tuesday when the chicks had the appearance of “ugly ducklings” (a mixture of down and feathers)! They now have very little down and look very pretty with their plumage consisting mainly of feathers.
We had either juveniles or adults visible for most of the time, with the adults completing a few flights. The female at one point collected a prey item from a cache but had to make a few laps of the tower with it to gain height to reach the water spout.  At times we had some very good views of juvies with the large female complaining loudly that she was still hungry despite a good feed at 8am. One of the little males has decided that it is now time to start developing his muscles and was spending time on the ledge flapping.  The adult male put in an appearance late on in the session and managed to sit at the top of the louvered windows.
As always with the watch point it was great to meet old friends and enable first time visitors to enjoy the experience.
If you intend to visit don’t forget time is running out for this year.......Watch Points run each Wednesday. Thursday and Saturday until the end of June, 11 am to 1.30 pm.

News of Derby on BBC Springwatch last night (Wednesday): along with some great footage of peregrines in Bath (and some of Ed Drewitt, who identifies our prey remains for us) there was a brief showing from our famous video clip of a peregrine bringing back a live woodcock at 11pm one December night, the first ever film in the world of peregrines hunting at night! To see the whole clip go to the blog and search for video clips 2009. Using iplayer you can see the Springwatch programme again for the next 15 days (probably from tomorrow morning when they have put it up).
News of Live Streaming: unfortunately we are still unable to fix the problem with the live stream. We do apologise but it seems the only person who knows how to solve the problem is on leave all week so we may well not get the stream running until Monday at the earliest.  NB (DWT)

News of Yesterday  (Tuesday 5th)
It was our Special Open Day today, jointly organised by the cathedral and the wildlife trust - and amazingly it stayed dry throughout too - the rain beginning about 6pm!
We ran a watch point all day, there were five tours up to the top of the tower, some displays about the birds and their prey and there were a
couple of talks during the day too.
It was great to put faces to some 'comment' names and to meet old friends too. We had a steady stream of visitors (about 150) during the day including tourists from Italy, Spain and the USA as well as many locals. Our oldest visitor was 93 and our youngest about 5!
Caroline Hawkridge (who wrote the poem that was on the blog recently) came over from Cheshire and among our band of willing volunteers, Hilary M came up from Birmingham to help out. A big thanks to her, to Andy, Chris, Helen, Ian, Joyce and of course to Tony G who masterminded the whole exercise. Thanks also to John Armitage and his volunteers who ran the tower tours and the 'cafe' and to Matt the duty verger.
The adults themselves weren't particularly active but the chicks could be seen from time to time and one was even flapping its wings I gather!

BBC Radio Derby kindly ran an impromptu live interview with me at about 9.30 and a few extra people turned up as a result....even though I managed to underestimate the cost of the tower tours! You just can't get the staff eh......
Nick B 

The original post started:
We've been itching to tell everyone for several weeks that a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for money to help us run and develop the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project has indeed been successful.

We are naturally extremely pleased!

We needed to obtain official approval from HLF before going public, which we've only just received today. Our bid was for just under £50,000 (the maximum allowed) to be spent over three years, starting now. This might sound like a lot of money but when you break it down into its constituent parts, it's not quite so much.

Flying falcon by Andy Byron
What we intend to do is to use some of the money to employ a new 'Engagement Officer' for the project later in the year. Their job will be to work with a wide range of community groups in Derby and the wider county to help them and local schools to experience the wonders of our peregrines. This officer will be employed by the Wildlife Trust for three days a week for about three months each year, ie just in the nesting season. (More on this later).
We also need someone able to do all the highly technical work which keeps the web cams and blog running, and to develop the project throughout the year.
In addition we need money for the Watch Points, some new 'gear' in the tower to ensure the pictures get to you successfully, and funds for live streaming and so on. For now that is probably enough detail. (But see the exciting news further down)

The bid was put together last autumn and we must thank the people who undertook the bulk of the work and who's skills resulted in us being successful:
Nick Moyes was employed part-time by the Wildlife Trust last autumn to do all the research required for the bid. He made contact with all manner of people and organisations, getting their support and planning how we can work alongside them to get the peregrine pictures into more schools, community centres and so forth. Tim Brooks, at the Wildlife Trust, then assembled the bid, worked out the budget, got everything together and sent the final application off to HLF in December. So we owe those two people a big debt of gratitude for all their hard work and skill. Getting a grant from HLF isn't easy these days. There is fierce competition. So a mighty big 'thank you' is due to Nick M and to Tim.
Many other people helped behind the scenes and we thank everyone of you who has enthused about our project.
Now the work really begins! Because of the lateness of the current season, we are now unlikely to recruit the Engagement Officer until autumn - at the earliest. However, as they say, 'watch this space'! We will keep you informed as we progress.

Our first achievement under this bid is the ability to announce that we now have LIVE STREAMING WITH SOUND!. Check out this link
It will eventually have a timeout on it, meaning it will stop after 5 or 10 minutes. Please don't leave it running continuously for now. Not only might you exceed your data bandwidth limit - and you'll probably exceed ours, too! We'll talk more of this later. (We only wish we could have brought it to you earlier)

Meanwhile, the peregrines themselves carry on their wild lives high above the urban landscape of Derby, completely unaware of the developmental work going on below and around them. And that's how it should be.....they have a family to bring up after all, as you can see below!

Nick B (DWT) on behalf of the project partners

Friday, 25 May 2012

Ringing Day

Peregrine Watch Points will occur on Derby's Cathedral Green off Full Street every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday between 11 a.m. and 1.30 p.m. between now and the end of June 2012 (weather permitting).
Check out the map on the left to see where we are located.

I have to admit to being very nervous today. It wasn't the thought of lowering myself on a  rope from the top of Derby Cathedral Tower that did it. I was worried about having to pick up four feisty young peregrine chicks, place them carefully inside a specially padded bag and lower them down on a rope to my friend, Anthony, waiting below. Ant is a licensed bird ringer, and had asked me if I would assist him with the abseiling bit of the process as his normal helper wasn't available. I'd never held a young peregrine before (everyone has their first time), but the idea of accidentally doing them harm or damaging their growing feathers was concerning me greatly. Dropping them all would not go down well at all.

Arriving at the nest platform, I found our four downy chicks were cowering quietly in one corner. Every year we have a narrow date range during which  to ring the chicks before their reaction turns to running around or lying on their bags with their sharp talons waving, ready to fend off an attacker.
Well, we did get the date right, but nevertheless they certainly did a good job in the fending-off department. Claws and beaks were most forthcoming, and I soon began to wonder what I had let myself in for as I tried to subdue and pick up one angry chick at a time. I was too fearful of hurting them to pay any attention to our adult falcon who was flying round and round the tower, calling for all she was worth.

With a small crowd of onlookers below, many armed with such long camera lenses you thought they might reach up and touch you, it was a real responsibility being up there. It was also tinged with the realisation that any stupidity on my part would be captured on film forever, and certainly held against me!

But I eventually got all four chicks into the bag which was then lowered carefully to the nave roof.
Inside the clock tower where Ant, the ringer, Tony Grantham, and Helen and Joyce, two stalwart peregrine supporters and Watch Point leaders who had both been invited to come along to watch.
As you can see from the pictures below, they have now all been rings and returned safely to the nest platform.

From  the size of each bird, Ant believes we have three males and one female. One ring broke whilst being put on, so our 2012 brood looks like this:

Male     Orange ring no 016  (on left leg)
Male     Orange ring no 018  (on left leg)
Female  Orange ring no 019  (on left leg)
Male     Orange ring no 020  (on left leg)

Once again, thanks to Ant for doing the actual ringing and to Joyce who took the photos inside the tower.There are more of her pictures of the ringing event on our Flickr page as well as a number of screen captures from the webcams.

Tail feathers already coming through - we may ring earlier next year.

Ringed chick back ion the nest platform

Hey, just look at this bling!

Look - all that meat and it's getting away!

On a different note, of our local photographers, Ian (aka Superbrad) has posted a lovely set of his photos he took at  Wednesday's Watch Point. You can set the speed at which the pictures change.  Ian, I'll be dropping you an email to see if the Project Team can use a few of your super shots.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Making a Donation

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

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

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 and 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).

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 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.)

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

Payments should only be made to one of the three Project Partners. Derbyshire Wildlife Trust is best placed for this. 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 the current or next financial year.

Thank you in advance,

The Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project Team.
(Derby Museums and Art Gallery, Derby Cathedral, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Watchpoints and Videos

Peregrine Watch Points will occur on Derby's Cathedral Green off Full Street every WEDNESDAY, THURSDAY and SATURDAY between 11 a.m. and 1.30 p.m. between now and the end of June 2012 (weather permitting).

Check out the map on the left to see where we are located.

Here are some recently retrieved videos from our equipment inside Derby Cathedral's tower.
The first was recorded on 16th May and shows our adult female in the midst of her brood.

The video below shows the chicks on 12th May - see how much smaller they were then.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Watch Points, a report on day one and a nice donation

Peregrine Watch Points will occur on Derby's Cathedral Green off Full Street every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday between 11 a.m. and 1.30 p.m. between now and the end of June 2012 (weather permitting).

Check out the map on the left to see where we are located.

The 16th May saw the start of this summer's Watch Points on Cathedral Green (on Full Street behind the Cathedral).
For a report see the end of post.
With telescopes set up, anyone who comes along can see the birds really close up and'for real'! The four chicks will soon be poking their heads above the front of the nest platform and be visible from the ground...exciting times ahead!
These 22 events are run by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust on behalf of the partnership, which also includes The Cathedral, Cathedral Quarter and Derby City Council (which hosts the web cams for us).
The Watch Points will occur (weather permitting) each Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday between 11 a.m. and 1.30 p.m. between now and the end of June. If it is really wet or windy on a particular day then they won't happen - so please be aware of that.
So, if you live within reach (and I know one keen fan of the Derby peregrines is coming up from Buckinghamshire), then do pop along one day and see these wonderful falcons as they fly about, sit in places the web cams can't see them and generally go about the business of raising their family. You will get an entirely different perspective on them...and you'll also get to meet some of our wonderful volunteers - without whom these events wouldn't happen at all.
Buses and trains run into Derby of course but if you are coming by car, then search for 'derby car parks' to see where the nearest are located (Chapel Street and the Assembly Rooms CP are closest). There is also on-street parking in the area.
We look forward to seeing some of you in the coming weeks. Please introduce yourselves when you turn up!
If you are new to this blog - then to read the news about the chicks themselves and see some great video clips, scroll down to previous posts.

Report on the first Watch Point (16th): a sunny morning though it did cloud over later and the very cold wind increased too.
This was also a training day for new volunteers so a big thank you to Hilary M., Hilary Mc. and husband Kevin and Ian Mcl for sticking it out until 1.30 without a drink or any food!
The birds were very active and showed well all the time (but the chicks are not quite big enough to poke their heads over the edge - though they will  be soon!). The male flew about quite a bit and the female too at one point. We didn't see any food being brought in though.
Over 40 people came along including some old friends such as Sue H from Bucks., Tony G and Joyce S. BBC Radio Derby's Sally Swinfen turned up and I did a live broadcast for the afternoon show. NB. Note to other WP vols - bring plenty of warm clothes (and maybe a brolly too!).

Donation from the DOS: The Derbyshire Ornithological Society has been very supportive of this project since it began. Recently we received a donation from them of £200 which is very much appreciated. If you are interested in the county's birds then this is the group to go to, to join and support - google 'derbyshireos' and you'll find their excellent website. Go to the latest sightings page to read what birds have been seen in the county of late.
Again, a big thanks to them and to a few other individual donors who have kindly sent us some money recently and unsolicited. Keep it coming in! 

Nick B (DWT)

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

May Contain Bells

We now have four healthy peregrine chicks at Derby Cathedral. A couple of the pictures below are repeated from our previous blog post which also contained some great video clips, and is well worth checking out if you've not already done so..

Comments were made by some blog readers on Tuesday about apparent feeding by the male of the female whilst she was nestling the downy white chicks. Not recollecting seeing this behaviour before, I went up into the cathedal tower today to check the footage. And sure enough, there was the evidence for all to see. So I've retrieved and embedded it below for all to see.

For those with a weak heart or sensitive ears, I offer the following safety warning: "May Contain Bells"

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Fourth Chick Arrives in Derby (video #2 now added)

There will be many children returning to school today who will be excited to learn that a fourth peregrine chick hatched very early morning (8th May). There will probably be many adults in the same situation, too! A gap of three days between eggs hatching is quite unusual, and it had begun to look as if the last egg wouldn't hatch, but finally it has done so. Obviously the last chick will be smaller than its siblings but peregrines are good parents and there's every chance they will rear all four. Video clips will be obtained during the day.....

The first photograph below was taken at 03:57am using an automatic capture technique which anyone at home can easily set up (using a piece of free software called Irfanview) to save pictures every 15 seconds.

The second picture, taken at 04:57am was taken by webcam watcher Phoebe, and uploaded to Flickr from where it has been embedded directly into our blog.
076 -  08.May.2012 at 04 58 50 DCPP food for four possibly

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Three chicks - and pictures from viewers

Falcon on chicks and eggs - male wanting to take over
Close-up of Derby's falcon on day-old chicks and eggs

By Saturday evening we had two newly hatched peregrine chicks, with a third having arrived on Sunday morning.

Here are some pictures, many screen-grabbed from people's computers and posted to our Flickr Group. (Most recent first)

egg4still intact

Peregrines nesting at Derby Cathedral

Three day-old chicks being fed (with one egg still unhatched)

egg4 still intact

DCPP  (06 May 2012 at 08 36 )  shell

Pipped egg - suggesting fairly imminent hatching

DCPP  05 05 2012  at 17 21 Tiercel ousted

Saturday, 5 May 2012

First Chick Arrives in Derby

Reports came in this morning that our first egg had hatched. Empty eggshell was showing and the female was sitting tightly on her clutch.

Checking the video recorders inside Derby Cathedral revealed the first chick hatched around 3 am this morning, though nothing was actually visible - just faint cheeps (for want of a better word) from under the female. A video captured around 4.15am today shows the first evidence of our new arrival.

This PC screen capture from rejsharp shows two chicks around 5.20pm this afternoon (Saturday).


peregrines 5 2012

Well done to those schoolchildren who have been watching so keenly these last few weeks. Some of you guessed correctly that the first hatching would be on 5th May. (This is what our past records suggested to us, too). Hopefully some of you will be watching with your parents from home this bank holiday weekend. Do get them to write in with a comment to let us know how you feel. Remember: ages and first names are OK - never leave a last name on any website (even a nice website like ours!).

Nick M.