Sunday, 21 December 2014

The shortest day....

It's the winter solstice today and that is worth celebrating because from now on, the days get longer and the nights shorter.
Whether our peregrines are aware of this or not, it won't be long before they begin to show signs of courtship. By February, nest scraping and bowing will be happening on the nest platform, assuming our two birds are healthy and well.
Of course, they are getting older now so we must prepare ourselves for the inevitable. If one of them does die, we are confident that another bird will soon replace we feel sure that we won't have a year when breeding doesn't take place....fingers crossed of course!
Up the top of the tower a couple of weeks ago, Nick Moyes and I were showing Esther Kettel, a PhD student from Nottingham and her tutor the ropes. Well not the actual ropes of course, but certainly the setting for the dramas that take place every year.
We found some prey at the top of the tower of course. A lapwing had been cached on the south side, on the top of one of those wonderful mythical 'grotesques' that were carved almost 500 years ago when the tower was built. On the east side, a song thrush was also lying there uneaten. And in a lead gutter, what looked like a carrion crow was spotted, partially hidden by the side of the gutter and therefore not entirely visible. A snipe head was also discovered - so pretty much usual fare for the time of year.
Esther was delighted to see a nest site for real, having been incarcerated behind her computer for months. We hope that she will choose our project as one of the ten across the country that she selects to study. Her main interests are to log the birds' behaviour and to study their prey.
The floodlit tower on a December evening
It has been quite mild here in Derby so far this winter, with only a few frosts to date. Will we get a late dump of snow as we did in 2013? Or will it stay mild throughout? Only time will tell.
Meanwhile, Merry Solstice, a joyful Christmas and a Happy New year to all our 'virtual community' of peregrine watchers!

The Peregrine Project Team
Ps. We are now confident that we have enough grant money spare to employ Ian Layton, our popular People Engagement Officer, again next summer. Good news indeed! He'll start back with us in late February or March.


Linda said...

Good to hear. I look up whenever I pass them, and look in here too. Looking forward to it all starting again next Spring. Merry Christmas and a Happy New year to you and all Nick. Thank you again.

Helen said...

Lots of nest scraping taking place this morning, with the peregrine really pushing hard into the gravel with its legs and feet. Looks as if there is quite a big depression in the gravel now.

AnnieF. said...

Very pleased that Ian will be back for the new season. Looks like the tiercel on the scrape ledge. Centre of scrape itself is very clean & as Helen reported has a distinct & wide central depression.

Nick Brown (DWT) said...

Thank you to everyone who has sent best wishes, both here and on Facebook. They are much appreciated and it is great that even in the non-breeding season, folk still log on and have a look...even seeing some nest scraping too it seems!
It has been mild so far this winter in Derby and some plants are even flowering already - eg some blackthorn and a rhododendron.
Snow was forecast for today but down here in the south of the county it is falling as rain, the temperature being about +3 degrees.
The Project Team

nick b dwt said...

Think I better eat my words - we now have 2-3 inches of snow on the nest platform.....and it is still gently snowing too (9.20 pm)!
Nick B (DWT)

Jane (Belper) said...

Hi Nick, I thought you were pushing your luck with your weather forecast!!
Wishing you and all the team the very best of season's greetings and a very happy 2015. There isn't a day goes by when I don't have a look at the cameras, despite it being a difficult year. Be well, Jane

Kate (Devon) said...

Yes!!! Happy New Year to everyone and always appreciate being able to look in year round.
At least the current snow wont need you to climb to the Nest.
Remember this CHOL:):

AnnieF. said...

I remember that hot water bottle day!
There's still a lot of snow in the scrape, but plenty of footprints too so it has definitely been inspected. By what species I couldn't say though.
Wishing everyone a very happy and productive 2015.

christine said...

Happy new year 2 everyone! Looking forward 2 next years peregrine season! From christine.x

Phoebe said...

Happy New Year to all


Hilary. B'ham said...

A very Happy New Year to everyone especially to our Peregrine Project Team. Thanks to Nick B. Nick M. Ian and everyone from the support teams, Wildlife Trust, Cathedral Quarter, Cathedral staff, Rolls Royce. Apologies to everyone I haven't mentioned. Looking forward to another great season in 2015.

Jane (Belper) said...

Happy New Year all. One of our beloved peregrines has put in an appearance on the tower at just gone midnight. |Here's to another successful season 2015. Happy days! Jane xx

MaryT said...

Happy New Year to everyone. Looking forward to another exciting year

Peregrine Project Member (Nick M.) said...

Thanks for your best wishes, everyone. And to Nick B in particular who took quite a lot of the weight off my shoulders in what was a very challenging year for me. Let's hope for a good season in 2015.
Nick M.