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)


Joyce S said...

Well done team, once again!
Now it's up to the peregrines to get busy, so here's to a successful peregrine season.

Phoebe said...

I've not posted for a while. Thank you team for the clean-up, the scrape looks spick and span now! I wondered what that was on the right side, the slate, do you think the birds might pick that side to lay in now?

The pair have been back and it looks like they approve. The views are much clearer now. A big thank you again to the wonderful team we have here in Derby!

Good to know RR are going to be involved.

nick B said...

Hi Phoebe: the right hand side of the platform always was slate since 2006.... a ploy to deter the female from laying there. Latterly the gravel has spread across so in order to ensure that she lays on the left hand side (as she always has done) more slate was added yesterday.
Nick B

Kate said...

Joyce S,.Thoroughly agree. what a fantastic team, love the pics, but by golly you do look cold.Thank you so much,and will look forward to another good healthy Season, .The Cathedral Birds,have tremendous faith
in you all, and as Nick B noted they are well and truly into their rituals.
Am sure I speak for many that once the season starts the enjoyment we armchair watchers receive is truly wonderful and appreciated.

Nick B (DWT) said...

Hi Kate and everyone else: thanks for your kind comments. This is our ninth season so it is good that we still have a good following!
Keep sending in the comments and if anyone sees mating - please let us know.

Nick B (DWT)

Jane (Belper) said...

Hi Nick, it's good to be back for another season. The scrape looks very smart and I can't wait for the action to begin! I know you've all been very busy doing your best for all of Derby's wildlife so it was a lovely surprise to see you managed to get everyone together to make sure both the scrape and the cameras were looking their best.

I take it when you ask for reports of mating, you mean of the peregrine variety??!!!!!Sorry, couldn't resist that!

Best wishes to all the team.

Lorraine said...

The cleaning of the cams has made a fantastic difference hasn't it, with just technical tweaks and adjustments to be made soon, to complete all the viewing preparations. Yay !

I feel like a big kid, sitting in the cinema all excited, waiting for the lights to dim and the curtains to part, ready for the start of the 'big movie' - and expect the Director, Producer, Stage Manager and Props Department will all be up for an Oscar nomination for their efforts to ensure another box office hit this year.

Popcorn at the ready folks !

Julie said...

I see the nice, clean, tidy left hand side of the scrape is looking like home already!!! Looking forward to spending far too much time watching these birds again this year - good luck for a successful season.

Nick B (DWT) said...

Hi Jane, Lorraine, Julie and anyone else who's returned to watch our Derby birds - good to have you all back.
Popcorn to the ready!

AnnieF. said...

Just remembered to give Derby peregrines a "follow" on Twitter, then had a quick look at the camera views available - splendid. Relieved all went well at the abseil & clean-up, now waiting for some action.
Well done all you chaps and good for RR to take part. Welcome back Ian!

AnnieF. said...

I meant of course good for RR for taking part - though I'm confident it will be good for them too!
There's definitely a slight hollow in the scrape - has anyone witnessed a peregrine doing this? had a look at the Nottingham Nestbox & theirs has quite a deep hollow; but they're usually a couple of weeks ahead of Derby. I can still remember that dreadful snowstorm that virtually covered the sitting female - tough bird, or what? And all three eggs hatched & turned into fine youngsters.
I'm getting fidgety now ...

AnnieF. said...

And, of course, apologies for my senior moment(s) - Hallo again everyone, lovely to be back & see you all again!

Lorraine said...

Great to see Annie F's post's when I tuned in - it wouldn't be the same without you Annie !

I noticed the falcon attempting to create a hollow in the scrape some weeks ago. She also removed all the old feathers and debris, little knowing that the team would soon be giving the whole scrape a check over and thorough clean up.

Though others have noted the pair have started head bowing and calling to each other, I haven't been lucky enough to tune in at such times, but have seen how the tiercel is often present on the ledge below when the falcon is on the scrape. As you mentioned, there is indeed a slight hollow now showing in the fresh gravel and so hopefully mating may begin any day now.

No one home at present though - so will tune in again later....

AnnieF. said...

Thank you Lorraine!
The falcon has been on one side of the nestbox or the other for most of the afternoon, but I haven't seen any activity. maybe tomorrow ...

Phoebe said...

Just for the record, I saw head-bowing in the scrape earlier, one in each side.

Green Class said...

we saw some crows on our bird watch and a wood pigion. the crows were chasing a buzzard and it flew in frunt of our classroom window and our heads. today on the witebord we have seen a peregrine falcen and it is still there siting on the edge it has been makeing a scrap aswell.
soon it mite lay some the
spring at the end of march.

AnnieF. said...

Hello Green Class, it's lovely to have you back! You must have been very excited to see the crows chasing a buzzard right over your heads. Not many people are as lucky as that!
It won't be long now before our Cathedral peregrines have a clutch of eggs to sit on. Keep watching!

AnnieF. said...

The falcon is currently in the scrape, tidying the corners and doing a bit of hollowing in the middle.

Jayde said...

Hello everyone, this is my first time posting, second year watching. I only found out about them last year, I watched them every day in amazement. The babies were already growing when I started watching last year so I am very excited about watching it from the start.

I have always liked nature but have never watched it. Although now, I am on a few live cams including bird feeders, owls nesting, Nottingham and Derby peregrines (of cause) I now also own a pair of binoculars!

I watch on a daily basis and can confirm that Nottingham has a hollow for sure, I have seen her digging a few times? And sizing it?

I can not wait for the other 2 cameras to come on! I love getting pictures of nature and wild life on the live cameras. Unfortunately I have only got one of Derby peregrines as they have their back turned every time I view:( Also, what happened to the 'full screen' view?

Anyway, I'll stop chattering on now. Sorry that my comment was so long but thank you for reading, and for any responses. I look forward to further reading / viewing!

AnnieF. said...

Hello Jayde, and welcome, it's great to meet you! Once you've seen the Derby peregrines you're hooked for life I think. I've been here for several years now but I always get excited at this time of year, hoping this wonderful pair will still be together, and if so that they will produce eggs, and then praying that everything goes well at the hatching. They are such expert & caring parents too, it's marvellous to watch them.
I hope you'll really enjoy your first full season here. Action won't be long now!

AnnieF. said...

At the moment the falcon's on the nestbox ledge rhs & the tiercel (I assume) is perched on a corbel below the scrape side.

Lorraine said...

Hello to you Jayde :) - I see what you mean about the full screen view. I suspect that this option is only available on Cam 3. It's been off air for some time now due to a technical hitch, but the team are due to 'tweak' the system soon and this should hopefully restore all four Cams in time for egg laying. It'll be great to have sound again also.

At the moment the falcon is on the edge of the scrape and the tiercel is close by on the ledge below. He's letting her know that she's still his No.1 sweetheart! He may also start to present her with little catches and may even offer to directly feed her the odd morsel from his own beak. Also, they may spend time in the air, high above Derby, doing various aerobatics and displays to re-enforce their bond and prove their worth to each other prior to mating.

Wont be long now !

AnnieF. said...

It's becoming a familiar sight now - one peregrine on the scrape ledge, the other on a corbel beneath it. Looks promising.

Anonymous said...

Really looking forward to this year. Have bought a spotter scope and need to learn how to use it! Very exciting to see what will happen this year. There will be no housework done for weeks on end all due to these fascinating birds :-)

Mary T (Belper)

Helen said...

A peregrine with live prey on the nest platform at the moment. It was brought back a few minutes ago and looks as if it has stripy feathers.

Sue Peregrino said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sue Peregrino said...

Hello all,
I too have failed to find time to checkout the world's finest peregrine cam for far too long. Just catching up on some of the posted comments - good to see all the usual "virtual" fans are still with us plus some newcomers. Mary T (Belper), you'll soon get used to the scope. It feels a bit strange at first, but you'll get there, keep practicing. Jayde, you've done the single best thing to enhance your enjoyment of birds by getting some bins. Don't just take my word, read Simon Barnes lovely book "How to be a Bad Birdwatrcher : To the Greater Glory of Life". No much to be seen at 10pm on a Saturday evening, I promise myself I WILL make time to look at the cams tomorrow! The previous deleted comment was me - one day I'll proof read BEFORE I post and correct the typos at the right time :)

Nick B (DWT) said...

Hi Sue, Mary and all returners and newbies to Derby Peregrines.
Enjoy the 2014 ride with us!
This will be our ninth season IF eggs are laid and, as has been said, things are looking good with noisy bowing displays, scraping a depression in the gravel etc taking place.
We hope to have the full complement of cameras/live streaming and sound running very soon but we are waiting for some technical glitches to be sorted out - things for which we are reliant on others ....
Nick B (DWT)

christine said...

Hi everyone. Just wanted 2 say that i am looking forward 2 the months ahead! Hope mr and mrs p do us proud just as they did last year. From Christine

Lorraine said...

Hiya Christine - yes, me too, I'm really looking forward to another season with the special Derby peri's. I also look forward to reading the Green Class comments that will no doubt start appearing more frequently as soon as egg laying begins ( fingers crossed ) They're so cute and I like the way the teachers allow them to express themselves in their own words!

They say the weather is set to improve a bit next week and if so it might just encourage the birds into action. I do hope so anyway.

Didn't get a single look in today, as I was busy working hard in my Mums garden, but it was so nice to be out in the sunshine and I had the company of a little hungry Robin who was after all the worms I was exposing whilst digging over the soil and planting some bulbs - what a little sweetie he was and as tame as you like the cheeky perisher!

No birds present just now, so off for a long soak in the bath ( boy do I ache! ) but I'll look in later to see if the falcon comes back to have a nibble on that prey she left in the scrape yesterday.

Lorraine said...

Ahhh...thats better ( funny how the ends of your fingers go all crinkly though isn't it? )

Well, there she is, on the near gargoyl, as she was last night, and doing some intense sky watching. I can't stay awake much longer though, so will leave her to it and bid her a fond goodnight. ZZZZzzzzzz

nick b (dwt) said...

The corpse that was on the platform ysterday was that of a woodcock, a prey species often taken in the winter. It seems to have been removed now.
nick b

Linda Emmans said...

Think Mum to be is thinking seriously about laying eggs. Just watched her sitting on the depression in the scrape going round and round as if testing it for comfort. I haven't see Dad to be though. Linda

Nick B (DWT) said...

Hi Linda: it's getting quite exciting isn't it?
Maybe folk would like to try to predict when the first egg will be laid?
Dates in previous years have varied from 23rd March (in 2009 - the earliest ever here) to early April.....
This having been a mild winter, you might expect an early egg laying season - but who knows!
Nick B (DWT)

Lorraine said...

Roll up! roll up!
Please don't be coy,
Come share in Derby's pride and joy.

The entrance fee won't cost a dime,
So take your seats, it's almost time,
To bring you nature's greatest play,
With many scenes throughout the day.

As light's are dimmed, the time is nigh,
To shine the spotlight way up high,
On cast now waiting in the wings,
To move your hearts and make you sing.

As players take to center stage,
Their head-bows prompt us to engage,
In courtly scenes that will unfold,
The greatest story ever told.

When curtain parts for your delight,
Behold, in otherworldly light,
Two falcons on a balcony,
Who's grace will take your breath away.

Then recognize the silhouette,

Romeo and Juliet !

Linda Emmans said...

I saw this in the Daily Mail tonight:

Wonder where last years fledglings went to.

Lorraine said...

Thanks Linda - just followed up that link about the Bristol/London City peregrines - really enjoyed.

Plymouth news mentioned tonight, something about a plan to release falcons of the trained variety, brought in to keep a check on pigeon/seagull nest sites. They merely harass the seagulls away from the Uni campus roofs and take their pick of the plump city pigeons (they're full of pasties!) I'll keep my camera and bins close by, in case I catch a glimpse.

Kate said...

Hi Lorraine
Loved the 'Poem'
Can't wait for our pair to again give us so much pleasure.

As we know here in the Westcountry,we are plagued by the Seagulls who are used to being Fed by the visitors, until they have 'pasties or Ice cream Cornets' whipped out of their hands...
The Falcons being used in several Beach areas, Sidmouth front trying to encourage them to nest back on the Cliffs.
Wonder if Plym Woods will have their Cam working soon???
Kate( Devon)

Lorraine said...

Hi Kate,
I went to see the local falcons at 'you-know-where' last year and saw them through the big telescopes there. I plan to walk into the woods again this year, to see if the hardy pair have a more successful season. It's not so much a lack of prey that can effect their chicks, rather, they're at the mercy of any extreme weather on the rock face. Lets hope this season is kinder on them. I'll post any news I hear about the sites Cam meanwhile.

Just spotted one of the Derby birds on the r/h scrape ledge a moment ago, but it's now flown off. Noticed the lovely blue sky over Derby, so perhaps the pair are displaying aerial courtship high above. If any Derby residents can confirm this notion, it would be great to know.

Phoebe said...

Head bowing in the scrape right now.

Phoebe said...


You have delighted us yet again with another beautiful poems! Thank you for sharing! :D

It really tells the story well.

Nick B (DWT) said...

My good friend Nick Dixon tells me that an early egg was laid by the pair nesting on Charing Cross Hospital in London last Friday/Saturday with a second on Monday. Apparently the Wildlife Whisperer web cams there are down at the moment.
As I recall, this site was the earliest last year as well - by quite a few days.....and they were at least 2-3 weeks ahead of Derby.
Nick B (DWT)

Phoebe said...

Nick B
That makes me think the temperature is playing an important role, London being one or two degrees warmer than Derby and with such an experienced pair here. The first egg will probably two weeks from the London pair. My guess is 27 March...

Lorraine said...

Just tuned in (12.55pm) and can see both birds, with the tiercel on the 'balcony' and the falcon below on the ledge. It's the proverbial opening scene!

"Romeo, Romeo, wherefore are thou?"

"I'm up here my love - perchance you fancy baking cake today?"

"One egg or two?"

Phoebe said...

Ha ha great bit of fun!

Lorraine said...

Missed the 't' off ar't' and the 'a' before cake, I know ( and that'll teach me to read before I post!) - but was so exited to see them both.

Anyway, the birds haven't 'scrambled' yet and sadly I have to go out now - hope I don't mniss any action the moment I tune out.

AnnieF. said...

A message on Twitter says that a huge fire at Derby Assembly Rooms has cut the links to the peregrine webcams. The accompanying photo looks terrifying.

Lorraine said...

Saw the birds on and off today, but both Cams appear to be frozen just now (19.03) with the last image of the birds showing 17.40 on Cam 2

Enjoyed the new DWT update and just watched the video link that Nick B recommended at the end of his post ( footage of a peregrine bathing ) It must have been a wonderful few moments for the lucky person who took the film - and so very grateful to them for sharing the event.

Lorraine said...

Just found your post Annie - thanks for alerting.

How awful about the fire, and I guess that does indeed explain the query of my previous post. I'll go and read up on it - sounds pretty dire. Just hope and pray no one has been injured.