Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Lots to do and see on this Saturday 28th..walks and DerwentWISE event

Update Sunday 30th June: despite a rather grey day and some mid-morning rain, over 20 people came on the guided walks. We saw swifts entering a building, elm trees with weird looking galls, himalayan balsam, feverfew, woundwort, harlequin ladybirds, various trees, buddleia growing out of a chimney and more besides. The second group did see a white letter hairstreak sitting high up on the tree and several people said they would get back there on a sunny morning now they knew where to look. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the peregrines showed themselves mainly on Jurys Inn. The last Watch Point of the year will be next Saturday 5th July.
Thanks to those of you who have donated to our project. If you've not done so yet please consider it. There's a 'donate' tab on the blog home page - or scroll down to an earlier post.
If Andrew from Mickleover could send in his email address (to ) I'd be grateful because I seem to have lost the piece of paper on which he'd written it. NB

The peregrine season is certainly drawing to an end though the Watch Point this coming weekend should be worth coming to, with the juveniles still pestering their parents and chasing them above our heads hoping for some food. Expect plenty of action!
In addition there will be three free guided walks starting on The Green led by Nick B. Weather permitting, they are timed to start at 11 am, 12 am and 1pm so take your pick! Bring some binoculars if you have any......but we'll lend you some if you don't. They will last c. 45 minutes.
(And the new DerwentWISE project has an event 1-5 pm in the nearby Silk Mill Museum - see below)
Nick will hope to show you some swifts and at least one local building in which they nest.
A new Swift Project, joinly run by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) and the Derbyshire Ornithological Society (DOS) aims to locate exactly where swifts are nesting both in Derby and beyond.
Swifts can be seen around the cathedral tower
Photo Stefan Johansson
Swifts have declined rapidly partly because when buildings that had swifts nesting in them are renovated, the birds, often by accident, are excluded.
If you live in Derbyshire and think you can help, do get in touch. If you live beyond, then the RSPB is running a national swift survey and they will be glad of your records - .
If you want to find out more about the exciting provision being made for these charismatic (and very urban) birds visit Swift Conservation's website .
These swift boxes near Ashbourne are in use every year
Swifts are amazing birds. The young fledglings remain airborne until they are old enough to nest themselves. They sleep, feed, drink and even mate on the wing and of course they fly to Southern Africa for the winter.
Their noisy screaming chasing low over the rooftops were such a feature of summer evenings in our towns and cities...but for how much longer?
Also, we'll look by the river for the banded demoiselle - what a beauty to find in a city!
Banded demoiselle damselflies turn up at Watch Points sometimes!
The guided walks will also take you to an elm tree that has a colony of the delightful White Letter Hairstreak butterfly on it. This little insect suffered major declines when Dutch elm disease killed most of our elm trees. This particular elm is now probably the only tree in the city where you can still find this species.
WLH sunning itself on an elm leaf, Chapel Street, Derby.
The new DerwentWISE project, funded by the lottery, will cover the lower Derwent Valley from Derby north to Matlock. Do come to the Silk Mill to find out more about it - especially if you live in the area but even if you don't. There will be activities for all ages - dream catcher making, exploring underwater life and rangoli making (what is rangoli? I better go and find out!) plus details about what the scheme will achieve in this lovely valley that runs north from Derby and over which both swifts and peregrines hunt! 

Nick B (DWT)

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Last one goes (Thursday 19th at 3.07pm)

Update Sunday 22nd June: a busy Watch Point yesterday which carried on umtil nearly 3pm because people kept coming just as we were about to pack up! Plenty of bird action too with two of the three juvs in view back on the cathedral above the nest and both parents visible on and off. At one point the falcon brought in some food and was chased about by two very noisy juvs. She dropped the prey deliberately to encourage them to cathc it but they failed. Her attempt to retrive the falling bird before it hit the deck also failed....and the bird dropped to earth feet away from punters enjoying a quiet drink in the outdoor beer garden behind The Dolphin pub....much to there bemusement! the corpse was hastily retrieved and deposited in a waste bin. Thanks to our volunteers and to Joel and Sandra from Rolls-Royce who stood on Irongate enticing passersby to go and see the birds.
Don't forget to make a donation to support the project and keep it running. Get the details by scrolling down to an earlier post. NB

The last juvenile has flown....watched by several web cammers including Mrs. Lewis' class from Alfreton. Many thanks everyone for alerting us - we'll nip down soon and check where he ended up! The other two were on top of Jurys Inn this morning - so they are still both OK.
Norma's screen grab showing departing juv top centre
A trip downtown circa 5pm showed the two juvs on Jurys' roof but no sign of the third bird. However the parents seemed very relaxed so I'm sure it's up there somewhere...maybe even on Jurys already.
Interesting to check the clustr map on the blog and see that we've had 20 hits from Brazil - far more than usual.....some Derby based England fans must also be peregrine fans methinks! Nick B (DWT).
Update Friday evening: all thre juvs seen by Christine which bodes well for tomorrow's Watch Point. NB.
So, that's that for the time being. We'll keep you updated as best we can and you may well see birds on the nest and above too occasionally in the coming days.

A few things to mention:

1. Please donate to the project to keep it running - scroll down to the previous post for details. And a big 'thank you' to those how have donated already - it is much aprpeciated!

2. Come along to the Watch Point this Saturday morning (21st) to see the youngsters learning to fly and hunt.
Be sure to have a delicious Bakewell tart and a coffee in the Cathedral shop opposite the main entrance and look for the green men that stare down at you by the sides of the west door....they are very nearly 500 years old!

3. Think also about coming the following Saturday (June 28th) when there will be three short Guided Walks starting at the Watch Point to show you some of the other great urban wildlife in the vicinity - details to follow.

White letter hairstreaks live close by......
Swifts nest in nearby properties
4. If you live locally, consider joining the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. To find out more about what the Trust does visit the website - . If you live further afield - you might join your own local trust - visit .

Nick B (DWT)

Monday, 16 June 2014

Time to lend a helping hand.......

Update Wednesday 18th midday: the final youngster has still not fledged!
Please see new photos of the juveniles at the foot of this post....and more on Derby Peregrines Flickr site at 

Every year since 2006 when we started this project, we have put out a plea to folk who have enjoyed watching our family of falcons grow up - and each year the respnse has been magnificent!
So, as the fledging of the last youngster draws close, now's the time to make our annual appeal to you.
Some of you will know that we have been using a grant from the lottery (The Heritage Lottery Fund) to assist us. The grant has paid for staff time, essential equipment such as the new camera we installed last year and replcement video recorders and also for the 'connectivity' which allows you to see the web cam pictures from anywhere around the globe. But the money is now beginning to run out.....
In addition, the grant we get is reliant on us raising some money ourselves (roughly £1300) each year to match what the lottery contributes.
In addition, Cathy, the injured peregrine that we have had to keep in captivity since 2009 will require new funding to pay for her upkeep now that she is about to change keeper. A further £350 a year.
Finally, the grant we received from HLF only funded the cost of having Ian Layton for two summers, this being the as things stand, this will be his last with the project (he finishes with us in three weeks time!)
Ian has injected new spirit and energy in his role as Engagement Officer and we would like to have him back next summer. There may be a small underspend on the grant which may help us here but will will have to look elsewhere to acquire the total amount we would need. Ian is keen to come back again next summer and it would be good to be able to offer him a role in 2015 now rather than keep him in limbo until next spring.
In addition we have many new ideas to improve what we do, many emanating from the excellent work of our Rolls Royce team.....but these too will require money to fund them.
So, if you have enjoyed watching our birds on line please consider making a donation, however small (or large!).You can donate in one of the following ways:

UK donors:
  • 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 (include your address so we can acknowledge receipt).
  • Ring Elizabeth Woodward at the Trust during office hours (01773 881188) to make a payment over the phone by debit/credit card (office hours are 9am to 5pm, weekdays, to 4.30pm on Fridays).
  • You can also use the donation mechanism on the Trust's website at  Go  to 'support us/make a donation'. We use Virgin Moneygiving and find it works very well.

To 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 20% of the value of your donation. The form can be sent to you by email or through the post…please just ask us for one.

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.) Note that banks may charge for this service.
  • 2) Donors from most overseas countries can also ring the Trust (weekdays on 0044 1773 881188) to pay by credit long as you can work out when the office is open of course (check the webcam's local timestamp!)
  • Use our online donation mechanism via our website - see above.
Payments should only be made to 'Derbyshire Wildlife Trust', the lead partner for the project. No other organisation or website is authorised to collect funds on our behalf.

Please clearly mark on your payment that it is for the 'Peregrine Project' for use in the current financial year or, better still 'in this and next financial year' (this allows us to carry your money over from year to year should we need to).

Thank you in advance,
The Project Team (Ian L, Nick M and Nick B)

Latest photos of the juveniles: these photos were taken last night (16th) by Jon Salloway and Cliff Pearson. The two flying juveniles were both on Jurys Inn with their parents.....the final male still in the nest.
Wing stretching on a local chimney

Both juvs are flying well

Trying to be clever.....

Two adults and two juvs on Jurys

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Second Fledging on Sunday 15th

Things are getting confusing now, what with juveniles fledging and then returning.
Yesterday we had all three juveniles back on the nest platform, and this morning we had a helpful blog comment left by Nick Shailer in Australia (thanks Nick!) who noted the precise time this morning that our second juvenile had flown from the nest. Noting the exact time-stamp really helped, and this allowed me to 'look' inside the camera and extract some of the video recordings that are automatically made on movement detection.
So below are two clips of the moment of fledging of youngster number two, taken just a few seconds apart.

At the time of writing (2pm), Nick B has just returned from Cathedral Green to check where she was, although by the look of its strong flight (see the second clip below) it seemed likely to be fine.
Nick said he could see one (male) still in the nest platform, one on the stonework below the nest and a third on top of Jury's Inn. Judging by size alone, it seemed likely the Jury's Inn bird was the newly-fledged female from this morning and the one below the first fledging male.

Nick Moyes

UPDATE MONDAY 9 AM: a lovely sunny morning saw one fledgling on top of Jurys, the male still in the nest platform but no immediate sign of the third. I'm sure it will be up there somewhere out of view from the ground. Meanwhile nearby, the small colony of white letter hairstreak butterflies are now on the wing on an elm tree.....good to see them again. More on this in a later blog post (and on the 'pigeons' on the tower).
Really good BBC East Midlands Today TV piece (featuring Ian) was shown twice today already and hopefully will be again this evening. Should be available later to watch on iplayer..but only for a week! Link to follow.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Fledging and Watch Point Update - Saturday 14th June

Sunday morning update (15th): all three juveniles in the nest platform this morning and it is now easy to confirm that we have two (smaller) males and a (much larger) female - and also that it was one of the males that has flown (and has now returned).

Saturday (14th) afternoon Update:
There was a good (and dry!) Watch Point today with lots of visitors using our telescopes, as well as a BBC East Midlands Today TV film crew (their film will now probably be shown on Monday  - viewable only if you can get E. Midlands region TV - because a light aircraft has crashed near the M1 which is clearly going to be the major news story today).

There wasn't much fledging action today, unfortunately, although most people saw at least one if not all three of the youngsters. The female insisted on sitting high up on the backside of a pinnacle out of view from the Watch Point and the male on Jurys Inn. At one point there was plenty of flapping from the two still in the nest...but will they fly soon or keep us waiting?

The video clip below was captured earlier this morning, and shows just how active the young birds can be (larger female on right, male on left).

Watch a similar clip here:

It was good to see plenty of new (and old) faces on The Green today including families from a school in Alfreton. Their teacher, Sarah Lewis, unable to bring a class down in school time, encouraged parents to bring their children today - and it worked a treat! Ian Layton gave them a short talk about the birds and of course they all had a look through the telescopes too. 1
By the next public Watch Point next Saturday it is fairly safe to say that we will have all three youngsters on the wing!
Photos from yesterday (Friday 13th)
Children from a local school walked over to the Watch Point and enjoyed a sunny morning there looking at the young (and old) peregrines. Photos by volunteer Joyce Sawford to whom many thanks:
Ian and volunteer Steve Creswell point the children in the right direction

Getting to grips with the equipment!

This is what they saw - much flapping in progress!

The falcon (female, above) keeps an eye on her able fledgling!
The Project Team

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Fledging starts

UPDATE Thursday 12th: the fledged juvenile is fine and on top of the tower. 
UPDATE Saturday afternoon (14th): please see the following blog post.
Two photos from this morning: one shows the first fledged bird on top of a pinnacle and the other the two remaining birds on the platform. The colour ring numbers were 026, 027 and 028 with probably two males and one female.
Remaining two getting warm in the morning sun.....

First fledger high up above the nest
This morning (Wednesday 11th) beady eyed web cam watchers spotted that there were only two juveniles in the nest tray and one early-bird watcher saw a third one leap off the edge.
When I arrived at 9 am, all was quiet. Often, if a juvenile has flown and landed somewhere precarious, the female flies about overhead and is very restless.
This morning she sat calmly and for long periods above the platform with the male close by.
Then, she suddenly flew down to the nave roof, something I've never seen her do in nine years. So, putting two and two together, it seems almost certain that the fledged youngster is on the roof. It will be quite safe there and if the female (the falcon) is happy to go down to feed it, we can relax for the time being anyway.
We weren't expecting any fledging for perhaps another week. Usually the youngsters spend days (and days!) flapping and strenthening their wings with us all on tenterhooks wondering if they will fly.
How soon the other two follow suit we'll just have to wait to find out. It could be tomorrow or not for a week!
Certainly, if anyone sees a bird actually fly off then please post a comment.....we usually pick these up pretty quickly since they appear in our email inboxes.
Three years ago, this female came down on a low wall
If one should come down to ground (or, as above, on a low wall), then we'll catch it and put it in abox and take it up to the top of the tower for a second attempt...usually that works. They can't get airborne again on their own so we have to rescue them. This happens more at the cathedral than on a cliff where the bird making its maiden flight can usually circle round and land further down the cliff. Our urban 'cliff' just isn't that wide or long!
Watch Point THIS SATURDAY (14th) - if you can get to Derby this Saturday morning for the watch point it could be interesting.....anytime 10.30 to about 1pm, weather looking good too! It's free and everyone is welcome!
A fine photo of an adult taken recently by Cliff Pearson - many thanks Cliff!

Nick B (DWT)

Sleepy Heads

It's hard to believe that not too many weeks ago we had tiny, fluffy white chicks - now look at them!

The first picture below was captured on Webcam 4 late last night when the young birds had their heads well and truly tucked down into their feathers.

For those of you enjoying watching our peregrines via Webcam 4 - an appeal please.  . .
 . . We have considerably exceeded our bandwidth allowance on this one webcam (by around 300Gb last month). To avoid extra charges, Streamdays we are going to reduce the bitrate on the stream later today. Please let us know if you find the image quality has deteriorated too much, and we'll work on another solution
Everyone can do their bit by closing their browser and not leaving the live stream running in the background when not required. Obviously, having a 24/7 webcam in the window of Derby Cathedral Centre on Irongate doesn't help either (!)- but it's good to have our birds visible on the streets, day and night. And we hope you enjoy watching as we build up to fledging time!

Webcam 4 -  so popular we've used up our bandwidth allowance!

Flickr picture, captured by Kate.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Getting closer....

As June progresses, so our three chicks get ever nearer the moment that they will launch themselves from the platform and become airborne for the very first time.
However, even though the most advanced of the three has lost 90% of its white fluff, it will be some time yet before fledging occurs.
Before then we can expect days of flapping by our trio......they need to exercise and strengthen their wing muscles before putting them to use.
There will be times when it becomes difficult to see that there are still three chicks on the platform and no doubt we'll get worried emails advising us that one of them has certainly fledged.
Usually the 'fledged bird' suddenly reappears, walking down from some high-up vantage point out of reach of the web cams! However, we will be keen to get reports when, finally, one does indeed fly off from the platform and make its maiden flight should anyone happen to see that.
In four of the previous eight years it has been necessary for us to rescue birds that had come down to the ground. The heavier female chicks are more prone to this than the smaller and lighter males - though one of the latter appeared outside a local pub one morning looking very much as if it was trying to get in!
We took him back to the top of the tower for a second attempt at flying - and he was fine.
Was this young male after a drink or breakfast?
Soon boxed up, he was ready for a second attempt from the tower top
In 2011, a female came down and landed on a ledge on a brick wall nearby. She was quite difficult to catch from the top of a ladder!
What's that guy doing trying to grab my legs?
Meanwhile, while many peregrine nests elsewhere in the UK are now deserted, we have quite a few days left to enjoy watching our chicks.
Our Watch Point events are well underway, organised by Ian Layton. The public ones take place each Saturday morning until the end of June (though today's was rather a washout).
A very local school can walk to the Watch Point
and will be coming again next week
During the week Ian has arranged for several groups to come along to see the birds and, in some cases, enjoy a presentation about them as well.
So this is a busy's all hands to the pump!

New Book - a new book called Urban Peregrines by Ed Drewitt has just been published and we'll be reviewing it on the blog soon. If you just can't wait to buy a copy, you can do so via Pelagic Publishing - .
Get the street-wise title design?

Ed has been very helpful to this project almost since its inception. He's particularly adept at identifying even the smallest and most indistiguished feather for us! His website is at .

Nick B (Derbyshire Wildlife Trust)