Thursday, 17 July 2014

Thank you Tony, thank you Ian, thank you all

With our birds safely fledged, it's a good time to thank a few people:
Tony Grantham. Tony was the Head Verger at the Cathedral when we started this project 2005/6). He resigned his post a couple of years ago to spend more time working with his wife, Dawn, on their thriving business importing and selling cutting machines.
Tony was a fantastic help to Nick M and me in those early days. Once he saw the birds himself, he became entirely hooked on them. He opened so many doors for us, both literally and metaphorically, that I doubt the project would have happened at all had he not been there to smooth its passage.
Thanks Tony for all you did for us - without you we'd be nowhere!
Tony helps out when a juvenile comes to ground
Ian Layton
Ian came on the scene early last year when he was appointed as People and Peregrines Engagement Officer for two summers, funded by our HLF lottery grant. Like Tony, Ian quickly adopted the birds and the project. He has made a huge difference both to our engagement of people and to the Watch Points themselves.
Just now we are trying to identify enough money to offer Ian the chance to work with us again in summer 2015. Meanwhile of course, Ian has to earn a living and that may mean he becomes unavailable next summer if he gets a permanent job somewhere. Time will tell.
We'd love to have him back if we can get him - he's been a pleasure to work with!
The likely lad

Our Watch Point volunteers
As usual, our trusty volunteers have turned up come rain, come shine, to help on Cathedral Green. Standing there for three hours and more can be very tiring - so they all deserve our thanks! This year they've been helped by our excellent Rolls-Royce team of graduates and apprentices. More on them later since they continue to work with us until the autumn.
Ian with sight-impaired children from a local school
School at a special Watch Point

Our donors
We have thanked each donor individually as we always do - but they deserve our special thanks because, without them, the project would have floundered long ago. Even with our lottery grant we still need our own income every year since the grant is not 100%. It requires 'match finding' to the tune of over £1000 each year.
If you would like to make a donation - please see the tab at the top of the blog home page which gives advice about how to do it. It is very simple!

Our partners
While the wildlife trust carried the bulk of the work, we would be no where without our partners. The Cathedral staff have been wonderful again, helping in all sorts of ways behind the scenes. We must particularly mention John Armitage, a great help to Ian especially, and Jackie Croft, Cathedral Administrator and Development Manager. Jackie is leaving Derby soon and we will miss her. She helped with the recruitment of Ian and in many different ways has been very supportive of our project. Thanks Jackie, we wish you well for the future!
The Grade One listed tower, now almost 500 years old!
Thanks also to the vergers who tolerated our incursions on their territory throughout the Watch Point season. Special thanks also to verger Matt who stayed late on bird ringing night so as to lock up behind us - much appreciated!
Final thanks to the cathedral office staff (Kim, Irene and Lucille) who booked rooms for us, handled enquiries and much more.
Thanks to Antony Messenger for ringing the chicks for us, as he has done every year since 2006.
Thanks to Serco and the city council's IT team for keeping the cameras up and running. An excellent job you've done! Thanks also to Melanie at Cathedral Quarter for her ideas and support, especially to the RR team.

Our web cam watchers and blog commentators
Last but by no means least, our virtual 'community of watchers and commentators; we'd be so much the poorer without all of you. 280,000 hits since January testifies to the way you've become addicted to our special birds. And over 800 comments so far this year shows how you have chipped in with observations and comments, keeping us on our toes and helping us too by keeping watch when we couldn't.
Brilliant work!

No doubt we've missed a few people....apologies in advance.....but it has been yet another good season and we look forward now to 2015, our tenth anniversary...provided the adult pair play ball and stick around! On that subject, do keep tuning in because our birds will be visible from time to time. We will keep the blog going all year...unlike so many other peregrine sites.
Two juveniles by Colin Pass

Nick Moyes/Nick Brown
Ps Don't forget the Hen Harrier Day Rally on 10th August 'up county'. Details as ever of Mark Avery's blog ...though you may have to hunt about a bit to find the latest updates, posted every Monday at 6pm.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Final Watch Point news of a juvenile and a new book

The final Watch Point of 2014 will be this coming Saturday 5th July, 10.30 to 1.30, weather please do come along.The juvvies are still about so there should be plenty to see....and if not you can always wander off and find a white letter hairstreak butterfly - as long as it's sunny!
Update Saturday afternoon: the weather improved greatly for the Watch Point but the birds were somewhat absent for the first hour and a half. Then all three juvs appeared on the tower and, very late on, the adults also put in an appearance. Big thanks to all our great volunteers (and especially Sue who travelled up from Buckinghamshire, bringing with her a big bag of change that she and husband Andrew had accumulated over the last several months!) and to Rolls Royce team members Fred, Jon, George and Sandra.
The season is now officially over as regards watch points and the wonderful Ian, our Engagement Officer, who has run them again this year, has now only one more week to work this summer. We'll miss him! Apparently one prey item today was a swift - not really a species we want them to catch since we are starting a new project about these marvellous birds!

Last night we ran a session for a Derby school class that was doing a sleep-over in the cathedral to raise money for some charitable cause. Both adults were in view and as we finished, two juvs appeared on the JI lettering! Many thanks to Joyce Sawford for her help, use of her telescope and her photos. NB
Lakeside Primary learn about the fastest bird on the planet
Photo Joyce Sawford

(Further thanks to all donors who have sent money recently towards the project - we need more of 01773 881188 on Monday (full details under donations tab!)
Photo by Jon Salloway
News has reached us that one of the males reared in 2012, having been found injured a couple of months ago near Alfreton, will never be able to fly again in the wild, having a wing injury similar to that of Cathy, the female who has been in the care of another falconer since having her accident in 2009. Fortunately, a falconer is willing to look after this new casualty and has already taken him to the vets and administered treatment for worms and trichomoniasis. He's now in good health and putting on weight. The falconer has obtained a licence from Defra to keep the bird.

Guided wildlife walks last weekend: Joyce has sent a photo of the first group down by the river Derwent:
Looking for otters.....? They do pass through the city -
but not in the daytime!

Further, a reminder that Ed Drewitt's excellent new book Urban Peregrines (£24.99) is available from Pelagic Publishing: . It's packed with photos and information and Derby gets several mentions too. The neat cover design title copies the style of a street sign (it took me awhile to figure that out!)

There are chapters on Food and Feeding, How to study peregrines, Ringing them, How to spot a peregrine, Threats and Futures, People and Peregrines etc - and a foreword by Chris Packham. Altogether a very important and readable publication - long overdue!

Finally - and talking of Chris Packham, he has agreed to attend a rally in North Derbyshire on 10th August, organised by Mark Avery, to highlight the plight of the hen harrier. So far 200 people have pledged to come - but more (many more) are welcome! For details go to Mark Avery's influential blog at .
The hen harrier should be present on most upland moors in England - there's room for perhaps 200 pairs - but last year none bred and this year there are just three pairs (none of which are in the Peak District national park). You can find out what's behind this strange and very disturbing affair by reading the many posts on the subject on Mark's blog.

Nick B (DWT)