Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Clean up day

Today (26th Feb) was just the day to get the annual clean up done. Nick Moyes, abseiler in chief, had a free window in his busy life and he and I assembled mid morning. The sun shone above us but there was a strong, blustery wind. Fortunately it was blowing from the west - the East side of the tower would be much calmer and so it proved.
Simon O'Connor, the local Wildlife & Rural Affairs Police Officer, was very keen to watch proceedings so he came up to the top of the tower with us but had to attend to other duties before Nick abseiled down.
A policeman's lot IS a happy one (sometimes!)
(Before Nick arrived, I had watched the falcon pair displaying to each other on a stone ledge below the nest. Both birds looked in good shape. Facing each other, they were bowing and 'e-chupping' - a noise they make to each other during courtship).
By the time we had reached the top of the tower, both birds had departed. Later one was seen on Jurys Inn.
Having carefully checked all his climbing gear and his ropes, it was time for Nick to climb over and descend....
Time to drop down to the nest

The cleanup operation went smoothly if slowly. The newest, wide angled camera was lifted up a couple of inches (you may recall that the youngsters did their disrespectful best to stop us viewing them last summer!) and all three camera lenses were cleaned. Old prey remains were removed, new slate was added to the non-nesting side of the platform and the whole area was sprayed with a mild anti-bacterial fluid.
Nick working at the platform
After some 90 minutes the job was done and Nick could drop down to the nave roof below. Although feeling slightly chilled he was pleased to be able to get his climbing harness off! A visit to a local hostelry soon revived him.....
With luck, you'll notice a marked improvement in the web cam views. 
Soon, once a small technical glitch has been sorted out, we will be able to get live streaming up and running. This costs quite a lot of money so we cannot afford to keep it running during the 'off-season'.
Incidentally, the only prey item I could see from the top of the tower was a lapwing, cached close to one of the lead gutters. Tomorrow's dinner perhaps.
Complete lapwing saved for a rainy day.....
With luck, the adult pair will be back tomorrow to inspect the spring cleaning operation. We hope they are impressed! 
On Friday and again next week, we have more meetings with our Rolls-Royce team to discuss their latest ideas (please see the previous blog post). The team members have split into two sub groups, dividing up the four tasks between them.
Nick B (DWT)

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Rolls-Royce is on our case

As many of you will know, Rolls-Royce is based in Derby and has some 15,000 employees working there. Each year, new apprentices and graduates have the opportunity to carry out a project in their work time which will help one or more local communities or charities.
Last summer, along with other local community groups and charities, we were invited to suggest how a small team of young professionals, each contributing three hours per week between January and September 2014, could assist us.
Any final ideas agreed upon would be mutually beneficial for both parties: the Peregrine Project gains an enthusiastic and motivated team for nine months and  the company has a chance to help the local community with their team experiencing challenges they would not otherwise come across during their professional careers (and meeting some very different people too - starting with Nick M, Ian L and me!).
While we knew that the Community Investment team at Rolls-Royce really liked our proposals, we also heard that they attracted a great deal of interest among the apprentices and graduates (who are allowed to choose which project they want to work on).
Finally, in January, everything fell into place and we had a very successful first meeting with our team of  thirteen young professionals.  We discussed the general background to the Peregrine Project, what we have already achieved since 2005/6 and what we plan to achieve during and after the team’s nine months with us. We followed this by taking the team up the tower and onto Cathedral Green to look at the nest platform from below. Unfortunately the falcons chose to absent themselves, so our new colleagues had to imagine what a peregrine would look like were it perching on the edge of the nest platform! They did however enjoy the views from the top of the tower, including a splendid rainbow!
A tower-top view down St Mary's Gate (albeit in autumn!)
There are four tasks that the team will tackle:
The first is to think about how they can embed the peregrines and the project more deeply into the life of the city. Initial ideas have included opening an exhibition, setting up interpretation panels near the Cathedral to catch the eye of the passing public, putting peregrine logos on local buses or even creating a structure or sculpture that would make passers-by think of the birds that live way up above their heads.  There is a huge opportunity to expand the ways the team can raise awareness of the peregrines, rather than relying solely on the display that will be set up again in the cathedral shop window in the summer. The team will focus on generating ideas and then researching, developing and evaluating potential options – which they will present to us along with their recommendations later on.
Stylish interpretation on Cathedral green - but no mention of our birds (yet!)
The second task is for the team to help Ian Layton, our seasonal Engagement Officer, with his work of engaging people with disabilities and those from minorities and other ‘hard to reach’ communities - using links that must exist within the Rolls-Royce workforce.
Their third task is based around bird aerodynamics and devising ways to teach children about how birds and planes fly – which seemed very appropriate to them and to us (they are already researching how the baffles in the falcon’s nostrils might work!) The team will develop work sheets for schools and even for higher education as well.
Bird with an extra pay load.....Photo: Jon Salloway
The final task for the team to look at is how they might evaluate and increase the economic value of the Peregrine Project to the city.
So this new Rolls-Royce team has plenty to do and we are really looking forward to working with them throughout the coming season.
We’ll keep you informed from time to time as things progress....and we might even allow them to post to the blog too!
Nick B (DWT)