Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Calling teachers - Now's the time to teach your class about Peregrines!

As our peregrines get into breeding mode (they've been seen displaying and gravel-scraping in the last few days), it is just the right time for teachers to think about engaging their classes with our exciting and very educational project.

There are several ways to do this:
2014 web cam view from the wide angled camera
1. Simply show them the live web cams on a whiteboard in class or in break time.
2. Use the project as part of your curricular teaching (see below).
3. Loan one of our Schools Resources Boxes...they can be delivered free to your (county council) school!
4. Request a school visit by Emma Wood, People Engagement Officer at DWT.
5. Consider bringing your class down to see the birds 'for real' at a special Watch Point on Cathedral Green in May or June.
A school comes to see the peregrines 'for real'.....

Over the last two summers, we have worked with a number of school teachers to develop a set of Education Resources Loan Boxes for teachers to use. There are three of these available to county schools, plus one for schools in Derby City. A number of schools borrowed them last spring and used them very successfully.
Contents of a resources box displayed

We have also converted some of the contents of the boxes such that they can be viewed freely online.  The resource pack offers ideas for using peregrines and other nest cameras as the core of a wide range of curriculum activities, from EYFS right through to pre-GCSE classes.

These include:
Graphics work by an infant at Brigg Infants School
  • Design Technology, 
  • Science, 
  • English, Mathematics, 
  • Art and Design, 
  • Literacy, 
  • Speaking and Listening, 
  • ICT/Computing
  • History
  • English
  • Geography

All we ask in return is that teachers using our resources let us know how they got on, and give us feedback which may help to improve them in the future. (A few photos would be nice too!)

The Online Resource Pack is available as a 14Mb zipped download of 26 files from our Project's Google Drive here.  If you want to see what's in the resources box, or make your own, download a contents list here.

Let us know what you think!
Visit our dedicate Schools page on this Blog for more teaching resources on offer from the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project.
To get in touch with Emma, please email peregrines@derbyshirewt.co.uk (Scroll down to the previous post to read more about Emma and see her on top of the tower!).
Emma will be assisted by Marc Whitlock, an education trainee with the Trust.

The project team

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Last minute clean up...and a new team member

Nick Moyes has abseiled down to the platform to clean it up every year since 2006 when it was first put in place. However, this year he has sustained a back problem which has prevented him from doing this important job.
Luckily, and just at the last minute, he managed to find another 'Nick' (this one is Nick E) who, with his climbing partner Pam as support, was willing to do the task for us. Both are members of a local climbing club.
With a brief window of suitable weather today, Nick E abseiled down and has made a good job of clearing up the platform and cleaning and re-aligning the cameras.
Many thanks to both Nick and Pam for standing in at such short notice!
Plans to install a new camera on the platform had to be postponed in Nick M's enforced absence. Hopefully it may be put up later in the season. Similarly, the faulty 'pud cam' camera that looks across the ledge at the top of the tower (towards Jurys Inn) cannot be replaced until Nick M's back is better.

On with the show....
Our peregrines are so determined to breed that our interference with the platform substrate will not deter them for one minute. Whether they know how lucky they are to get a cleaned-up nest each year we rather doubt but we look forward to seeing display and nest scraping resuming again very quickly. If you see either, please leave a comment on the blog - it's really helpful to us since we spend less time watching the web cams than most of you do! Many thanks.

A new addition to the team
This summer, with Ian Layton leaving us at the end of the three-year lottery grant period, we have a new team member, Emma Wood joining us.
Emma works as a People Engagement Officer for Derbyshire Wildlife Trust so she's well qualified to take over from Ian and we look forward to seeing her at this summer's Watch Points, which, along with school and community work, she will be organising and running.

Emma inspects the top of the tower for the first time
with Jurys Inn behind. Both birds were on the lettering!
Calling all teachers!
If there are any teachers reading this during half term who feel inspired to use the web cams and the project in class (there are some excellent FREE resources boxes available) we'll put up a post about them soon.
Meanwhile, welcome aboard Emma!

Nick B for the Project Team

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

February warm up and a TV piece

Peregrines on TV Thursday 4 Feb.

There was a feature on BBC1's The One Show (programme begins at 7pm) on 4th February about peregrines hunting at night presented by Mike Dilger and featuring Ed Drewitt.

Before Christmas Ed requested us to send the BBC some videos of our Derby Cathedral birds night hunting (eg the one in which a live collared dove is brought back to the tower after dark in 2013) and this sequence is shown briefly.
The programme is available on iplayer here and the piece is about 23 minutes in.

As we begin the month of February, our minds turn once again to the coming breeding season.
With luck, this will be our pair's eleventh season together.
The nest platform was put up in 2006 and we were amazed that our female laid her first clutch of (three) eggs on the gravel within weeks of its installation.
Every year since she's laid four eggs making a total laid of 39 to date.
Of these eggs, two failed to hatch in 2007 and one in 2015, leaving a total of 36 that did hatch.
Of the 36, two chicks died in the nest in 2010 and one in 2014.
So the total that reached fledging age was 33, a remarkably high average per year of 3.3.
Derby Cathedral and tower as seen from The Assembly Rooms car park
What happened to our juveniles after they had fledged we know very little about:
In 2009, one female was found dead soon after fledging and another female injured herself and has been kept in captivity ever since. Her brother was found in 2013 in Nottingham with a very similar injury and he too is now being looked after in captivity.
A recently fledged juvenile in 2011. Photo: Jon Salloway

One of the two females that fledged in 2007 was seen nesting on a cliff in Yorkshire in 2014 but we have yet to be 100% confident about the exact number on her orange colour ring. Someone read it once as being 002 but we would have liked to get other sightings to confirm this. The difficulty is that she is difficult to approach and the nest is in a very hard place to see.
A juvenile on the ledge above the nest platform
Three youngsters 'ready to go'.......
Then, as you may have seen on this blog just before Christmas, 030, a female that fledged last summer, was seen at a nature reserve at the West end of Rutland Water.
As to dates that the first egg was laid each year from 2007 (the first year the cameras were in place), they became earlier but then rather later:
2006 no cameras present but probably last April,
2007 3/4,  
2008  28/3,  
2009  23/3,
2010  24/3,
2011  2/4,
2012 29/3,
2013 4/4,
2014  29/3 and
2015 29/3.

So, there's much to look forward to as the 2016 season starts to happen!

The Project Team