Friday, 8 December 2017

The hounds of winter....and a couple of Updates

UPDATE 24th December: well the hounds of winter have run away for the moment and it's extremely mild today with temperatures in double (plus) figures. Some local birds are singing and a few great spotted woodpeckers have been heard drumming so how long will it be before the peregrines are scrapping at the gravel, bowing and calling we wonder?
Season's greetings to all peregrine watchers from the Peregrine Project team!
UPDATE 10th December:
Wendy's video shows the snow we have had today (Sunday 10th):

And the female peregrine surveying the scene below her on Monday (11th):

And Kate also captured this screengrab of the snow:

Snowy scene Derby Cathedral 10 December 2017
by Kate (from Devon)

December 8th: a cold snap here in Derby, as elsewhere in the UK.
Snow on the ground...and the Snake Pass road over the moors in the north of the county shut as a result.
Wendy's latest video shows the snow on the ground as seen from the webcams:

No sign of our pair but they'll be warming their feet on the illuminated signs on Jurys Inn Hotel nearby no doubt!

Unlike our birds  that have produced young every year since 2006, a recent report has revealed that peregrines elsewhere in this county (eg up on the grouse moors) are faring very badly. In fact this year (2017) not a single pair bred....the first time this has occurred since the species recolonized the Peak District in the 1980s following their absence due to agricultural pesticides.
Evidence points strongly to illegal persecution as the root cause.

Read more about the story here:  and here:

And do please read this inspirational blog post by a 13 year old lad called Dara McAnulty from Northern Ireland. He loves his raptors but is determined to do something about the widespread illegal persecution they suffer in his country: .

Inspired by him? Then do consider sending a donation towards his fund raising walk (the link is in his blog post).

The project team

Saturday, 18 November 2017

November action

Wendy Bartter has recently captured a number of video clips of the female falcon on the nest platform.
This first one shows her almost losing her balance on the edge:

And here's a second showing her 'blowin' in the wind'.....:

And this one shows some scraping/display behaviour which does sometimes occur at this time of the year:

There are more videos available...for the YT links please see Wendy's 'comment' to the previous post on this blog. As always a huge 'thank you' to Wendy for capturing these clips for us!

The Project Team

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Up the tower

Two trainees from Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Peter Eley and Steph Woodhead, visited the project and the cathedral today (26th September). I took them up the top of the tower to admire the views and see the set up in general. Fortunately it was a lovely autumn afternoon!
I think they were impressed by what has been achieved.

Steph and Peter pose on the top of the world
(well, nearly.......)

There were no peregrines to be seen but we did find the remains of a common tern, a species we've found before once or twice over the many years the project has been running.
The roof work will be completely finished by Friday with just a few scaffold poles to be taken down and some clearing up to be carried out.
I had a brief chat to Bruce, the project manager and thanked him for his helpful cooperation throughout the whole period. He and his team have had close-up views of the birds through the summer and have been interested to watch and learn about them.
The new roof looks great and should last many years - though the peregrines are already doing their best to cover it in prey remains apparently.....

Nick B
Project Team member

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Getting back to normal

The renewal of the Cathedral nave roof is now complete and the workmen have been busy removing the plastic sheeting and now the scaffolding which supported it.
Wendy Bartter captured this video today (14th) of the men who (speeded up) appear to be scurrying about like ants:

Hopefully next year, everything will be a lot simpler and less fraught.
Occasional sightings of bird at the nest platform are still being made.....but not that often. Perhaps when the workers have gone we'll see a bit more of our adults.....

Old wild peregrine
People at watch points and on the blog often ask "how old do peregrines get in the wild?"
We usually reply that we are not sure but we know many are persecuted (especially on grouse moors) and will be lucky to survive long. Away from game shooting enterprises, wild peregrines should be able to live many years and proof of this has recently come from a tagged bird (though not a Derbyshire one) that was at least 21 years old!

The Project Team

Friday, 21 July 2017

Donations, the last Watch Point and a lovely letter

Update 22nd August:
Thanks to Helen and Kate for reporting seeing two peregrines (probably both adults) on the nest platform and below it recently and an adult and a juvenile on nearby Jurys Inn.
For those new to the project, both adults stay around all through the winter making sure that no intruders try to take over. Juveniles usually leave by or during September though it seems as if one is still remaining.
There's sometimes a short period of courtship behaviour in autumn but normally it doesn't last long. So hearing the birds calling and even seeing them scraping the gravel (as they do before egg laying) is not that unusual.
Kate has recently put photos on the Derby Peregrine Flickr site which is always well worth a look: .

The Project Team

A big 'thank you' to everyone who has sent a donation to the Peregrine Project this summer.
As always we are really very grateful. Your contributions allow us to run the web cams, the blog and the Watch Points and without them we would really struggle to keep going.

We've known for years that people who are unable to get out and about, for all sorts of reasons, derive a lot of pleasure from watching the web cams and reading the blog.
So it was really delightful to receive not only a generous donation last week from Meriel Jones who lives in Port Sunlight on the Wirral in Cheshire but also this letter about her mother:

"My mother, Mrs May Jones, is currently 99 years old but unable to get out. She has been keen on nature all her life.
The web cams of the adults and the young peregrines this year have fascinated her - a great window on the world for the housebound."

We have had letters and emails from people in their 80s before but never one from someone so close to becoming a centenarian!
So a big 'hello' to Mrs. Jones from all of us at the Project. We are honoured to have you as one of our many watchers in the UK and indeed around the world and we send our best wishes to you and many thanks to your daughter.

Ps. If you haven't yet sent us a donation, please click on the 'Donations' tab on the blog to find out how easy it is to donate.

Final Watch Point Report   
The final Watch Point (on Saturday 15th July) went well with over 500 visitors logged.
At least two of the young were visible and the female came and sat on the platform too.
A massive thanks to all our brilliant volunteers this year who worked tirelessly throughout.
More on this year's Watch Points will follow later but it has been a very busy and successful season with many more people seeing our falcons due to the poppies nearby.
A 2017 Watch Point

Hits top 300,000
Since January the blog and web cams have received 312,000 hits. While most come from the UK, we've had visitors from over 60 different countries this year. So thank you for watching and either stay with us through the winter (our web cams and blog stay live throughout) or rejoin us next spring.

The Project Team

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Final Watch Point and a youngster turns up in Doncaster

The final Watch Point of 2017 will take place this Saturday 15th July, usual place, usual time.
As you can read by scrolling down to the previous post, two juveniles were visible along with their parents last there's still plenty to see (and the poppy display is still drawing the crowds too). Do come and see these magnificent birds if you possibly can. It is your very last chance this year!

This screengrab (above), taken by Kate from Devon today (11th), shows a fledged peregrine on the platform.

I'm off to Yorkshire!
In April last year (2016) a photographer called Bob Usher took a photo of a male peregrine on Doncaster Minster, which is also known at St George's.

015 on Doncaster Minster. Photo: Bob Usher
On closer examination the bird had an orange ring on its left leg bearing the number 015.

He sent the details to the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) who organise the ringing (banding) of wild birds in the UK. They identified the bird as a male ringed as a chick at Derby Cathedral in June 2011.
We are grateful to Bob for sending the photo to us for use here.
Bob said a female was also present in 2011 but he saw no direct evidence of breeding. He promised to try to visit again this summer and see if 015 is still there.
It seems likely that the birds are nesting on the Minster somewhere but so far there's no direct evidence.
The Project Team

Monday, 3 July 2017

School work and more photos

Report on the Watch Point on Saturday 8th July:
With over 400 visitors it was another very busy watch point. Several people had come down to the Green after hearing an item about the birds on Radio Derby earlier in the morning ( ). Note that the presenter says that this was the last Watch Point when there will be one next Saturday 15th all being well (check this blog mid week to be sure though!!).
There was plenty to see, with one of the juveniles perched higher up on the tower for most of the day. It was joined by one of the other juveniles for a short while, both birds enjoying the warm sunny weather. The adult female bird also spent some time sitting on the side of the tower. At one point she took off only to return to the Silk Mill museum a few minutes later with some prey.
After plucking and eating some of it herself she then flew back over to the Cathedral and tried to tempt the juvenile from its perch by first showing it the prey and then flying away from the tower. The juvenile was having none of it though and waited for the adult bird to land back on the tower and feed it directly. We had great views through the telescopes as the female tore off tiny pieces of meat to pass to her youngster.

Joyce Sawford, one of our excellent band of volunteers, took this video:

The male bird appeared later in the afternoon, sitting on the nearby hotel. There were lots of special moments but one that really stood out was when a little girl who was only about 5 years old approached the telescopes and immediately held up the teddy bear she was carrying so it could have a look!  
Go on teddy, you have a look at a peregrine!
Photo: Marc Whitlock

Other visitors included some past pupils from Brigg Infant School (whose work is sometimes shown on the blog - see below), so it was lovely to see them still showing such an interest in the birds. Visitors were clearly delighted to see the close up views of the birds, most of whom were seeing a peregrine falcon for the very first time. When the watch point finished at around 3.45pm the female was sitting on the platform, with the juvenile looking down from above.

Brigg Infant School in South Normanton always produces great artwork on the topic of peregrines, a subject which the children (aged only 6 and 7) really seem to enjoy.
Peregrine display at Brigg Infant School
The children also put comments on the blog which gives then experience both of IT and of writing.
Their teacher, Helen Naylor, also helps at the Saturday Watch Points so there's a strong link between the project and the school.
Helen said:
"Emerald class have really enjoyed watching the peregrines this year. One of the highlights was when we spotted the arrival of the new male bird. We've shared lots of great moments over the past few months, from watching the eggs being laid to the chicks hatching and fledging."
Hopefully the experience will last with the children into adulthood....though that's a long way off!

More photos
Dave Farmer sent us some super photos which he took in June - so many thanks to him! Here are a couple for you to enjoy:
Just look at my under wing - how neat is that! Photo: Dave Farmer

Flying free. Photo Dave Farmer
Recent sightings on the platform/scrape/ it what you will!
Kate and Wendy have spotted the male back on the nest platform a couple of times recently.
Kate's screengrabs are on the Derby Peregrines flickr site.

The Project Team

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Another busy day....and a way to help us

THE NEXT WATCH POINT IS ON WEDNESDAY 5TH JULY.....ALWAYS ASSUMING THE WEATHER IS OK.Don't forget the excellent Bakewell tarts and coffee at the Cathedral Coffee Shop on Irongate and the beer and lunches at the Silk Mill Pub only yards from our Watch Point.
And if the sun stays out there's a good chance of seeing the rare white letter hairstreak butterfly on the elm tree on King Street nearby. The Watch Point team will tell you where to look - bring your binoculars!

The rare white letter hairstreak butterfly
photographed on King Street.
Photo: N Brown
Report on Watch Point Saturday 1st July: most of the activity was on Jurys Inn and the Silk Mill chimney. One of the juveniles (all three were seen) was on one of the cathedral tower's pinnacles at one point and stayed there even when the flag was changed!
One of the juveniles was seen chasing some they seem to be getting the general idea!

Many thanks to Antony, Helen, Kelvin and his wife for stalwart work. There are still plenty of people coming to look at the poppies. See you on Wednesday?

The Project Team

Update 24th June 5 pm: Today's Watch Point volunteers saw all three juveniles together on the top of the Silk Mill Museum's that's very good news!

This project survives on a remarkably small budget (much of the work, including the rescue work) is done voluntarily keeping costs low. However we do need funds to keep the web cams running and the Watch Points organised - something like £4000 a year.

So any donation, small or large, will be appreciated. Please click on the donations tab on the blog to see how simple it is to's jjust a phone call to the Wildlife Trust office - or do it online via Virgin MoneyGiving.
Many thanks
The Project Team
Ps. If you would like to join Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, who's project this is, please phone the office on 01773 881188 or visit the Trust's website here.
Rescue Number Two
A phone call this morning (Thursday 22nd) to the Wildlife Trust from someone working in a solicitor's office near the cathedral alerted us to the fact that someone in an office facing Jurys Inn had seen a peregrine drop to ground and possibly disappear into a hedge.
Hedge minus peregrine as it turned out.

We went down and spent a less than delightful half hour searching behind, below and right in the hedge - hot and dusty work. No sign of anything....
Then three hours later, we had a call from Landau Forte College which is on the other side of the inner ring road from the cathedral and Jurys. A neighbour with a small garden had found a peregrine and managed to get it into a cat carry box. We nipped down to town again and transferred it to a cardboard box, having checked that it was in good shape -  which it was:
Yes it's me again!
We then released it back on the top of the tower. To us it looked like the same bird we had rescued on Tuesday....a small if feisty male now with fewer tufts of white down on its crown.

Be afraid, be very afraid......Photo Nick B

Meanwhile wonderful Wendy Bartter captured these three videos, the last of which shows the departure of the final (we think female) youngster today. Further searches will be made to try to see all three youngsters tomorrow and Saturday. Since the parental birds were very calm today we suspect they are all fine:

The second:

And the one showing the fledging:

The Project Team

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Unexpected early fledging and an Update

Update 21st June 3 pm.
A hot Watch Point today. One juvenile was in the nest platform all the time and one, perhaps two flying about but at no time did we see all three at once. So we are still unsure about the two that have left and whether both are OK. The parent birds were sitting high up on the tower during the mid-day heat, the male in the shade by the lead gutter and the female right up near the top of the NE pinnacle, keeping her beady eye on everything below. A juv was seen walking on the top of Jurys Inn mid morning and we've had a report of one on the Silk Mill roof. These may be the same or different birds, time will tell.
Thanks to Paul, Hilary and Nick M for running the Watch Point. There were plenty of people who had come to see the poppies but nothing like the weekend crowds. Those who came to see our birds were interested and pleased to have seen them....which is good!
Nick B

Update Wednesday 21st early morning:

Two juveniles were in view at 7.30 am. One in the platform which it now seems hasn't fledged yet!) and another right at the very top of the tower on a pinnacle. No sign of the third but the parents were very relaxed so probably they can see it somewhere on the building or on another roof or even in a tree.....
We'll have a further scout round during the Watch Point this morning which starts at 11 am.

Looks like being a hot day ahead.....

Tuesday June 20th: quite a day at the cathedral!

Early this morning web cam watcher Janet saw one of the chicks being accidentally pushed off the nest platform.
The two Nicks went down to try to find it. Nick M saw it on a gutter at the base of the plastic roof on the north side of the nave roof. It seemed OK and after a while was reported to have climbed up to the apiex of the plastic roof but out of sight of the web cams. All good so far.
Then at 5 pm Nick B had a phone call from Alex Rock who works for the cathedral. A young peregrine had come to ground and was being watched by a growing crowd of admirers. Alex rang us up and kept an eye on the bird (and the crowd!) while we drove down to town.
Without too much difficulty the bird was caught and put in a cardboard box and taken up to the top of the tower where it could be fed by its parents and from which it should make a second successful attempt at flying once it is ready.
Fallen male safely in hand. Photo Alex Rock
Notice how pale its legs and feet are and the absence of any yellow round the eye or on the cere at the base of the beak.
Male fledgling put out on the tower roof  looking slightly bewildered. Photo: Nick Brown

Close up of the male on the tower roof. Photo Nick Brown

The suspicion is that this individual was the second one to fledge not the first as we originally thought.
Attempts to see the missing bird proved unsuccessful but the parent birds seemed really calm so the chances are that it is somewhere up high and not on the ground. An anonymous web cam viewer reported seeing the second one fledge at about 8 pm and fly to a tree on Cathedral Green.....let's hope it stays up in the branches at least until tomorrow morning.
The male hitches a ride on a boot......Photo: Alex Rock

Tomorrow Wednesday there is a Watch Point so further attempts will be made to locate all three chicks wherever they have got themselves to by the morning....

A big thanks to Alex Rock who speedily alerted us to the fallen bird.

The Project Team

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Where's our new male from? Late news of a 2011 chick, and some great drone footage

UPDATE 20th JUNE: early this morning one of the three chicks was pushed out of the nest platform and is now sitting below the nest at the apex of the plastic 'shroud' but out of web cam view. So it is safe there for the moment. Roofers and vergers are alert to the situation and if the bird should come to ground at some point someone will spot it and let us know.
The Project Team

Watch Point from behind
Watch Point Saturday 17th.  A really hot day saw plenty of visitors (350 by 1 pm) but not so much activity from the peregrines. Both adults sat in the shade for much of the time, as did the chicks.
The Weeping Window attracted many people though not quite so many as last week when it had just started.
The Silk Mill Museum plus weeping window
Thanks to all the volunteets who helped run the Watch Point.

1) Drone-eye's view of the tower
Especially for those of you who don't live near Derby and have never visited the city to see the set up, the drone pilot, Tim Curtis of VideoEast, kindly filmed the cathedral tower for us. The drone stayed a good distance away (and without disturbing the birds), and a member of the project team was on hand to keep a wary eye open.
Tim and Derby City Council had been in discussion about the drone flights days beforehand to ensure that no harm came to either the peregrines or, indeed, to the drone itself. Drones can play a very useful role in nature conservation if used responsibly - and Tim certainly was thoroughly professional throughout the exercise having carried out risk assessments and having discussed the issues with both us and Natural England well in advance.
Tim has kindly sent us this video footage:

2) Detective work
In an attempt to discover where our new male peregrine falcon has come from, photographer David Naylor is trying to get a close up shot of the bird's left leg - the one that bears a small, metal BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) ring with a unique number on it.
Even if we could read even a few of the numbers on the ring, it might have proved possible to work out the full ring number by a process of elimination. Then we could discover where it was hatched.

We obtained permission from Bruce, the roof project manager, for David to stand at the top of the access gantry and take pictures from there - probably closer to the nest than anywhere.
His first attempt produced some fabulous photos of both adults (scroll down to the previous post to see some of them) but the male didn't land on the rim of the nest platform which would be the position where his ring could be seen from best.

David's second attempt was better in that the male did land on the platform but that ring is very dull and he wasn't able to read the numbers/letters beyond possibly an 'N'. So our hopes of finding where the male had come from are dashed for the moment at least.....

David has kindly allowed us to use his images on this blog (scroll down to see the previous entry which features three of them). Please note that they are David's copyright though I'm sure he'd give permission for appropriate non-commercial usage..... (We'll put more of them up on this blog shortly.)
Here's one of the female with her brood:
Feeding copyright David Naylor
3) One of our juveniles turns up!
We have just learned that one of the brood of juvenile peregrines raised and ringed at Derby Cathedral in 2011 was seen at Doncaster Minster (St. George's) in April last year (2016), 71 kms. north-east of Derby.  So it seems very likely that it may be breeding there. We are currently trying to find out the details since we only discovered this by seeing it listed in a list of ringing 'recoveries' in a raptor report issued a few weeks ago.

4) Here's the latest video from Wendy Bartter entitled 'chick antics':

The Project Team

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Watch Point flood - and some great photos & an Update

Weeping Window at Derby's  Cathedral Green
Update 12th June: one of our peregrines apparently saw off a red kite this morning close to the cathedral. We don't think a red kite has been seen over the city before so this is an interesting observation indeed.
Kites are getting more common in the county but they tend to pass through rather than hang around.....but we suspect that breeding may occur in a few years time....
Today's Watch Point (10th June) was duly flooded out - not with rain, but with people!

The Weeping Window of poppies at the Silk Mill museum certainly drew big crowds, despite a grey, moody start.
In total, nearly 800 folk came to look through our telescopes on Cathedral Green and to watch Derby's amazing peregrine falcons!

Marc Whitlock contributed this report which we have interspersed with some superb photos taken during the week by David Naylor (more on him and his photographic mission will follow.):

"The weather was kind to those gathered on the Green, amounting to no more than a light drizzle. The tiercel made a few appearances but the falcon was in evidence for much of the day.
The male flies off. Photo: copyright David Naylor 
Early in the day the adult pair left the tower and flew off…….the falcon returning shortly after to watch over the chicks from her perch high on the tower. She showed again how vigilant she is, returning on a couple of occasions to circle the tower, calling noisily to ward off an unseen (to us) intruder.
Chick wing and the falcon (female). Photo copyright David Naylor 

Later in the afternoon both adult birds were seen on Jury’s Inn. Taking flight from there, the tiercel was seen silhouetted against the sky with what appeared to be a prey item. He flew across before us and landed on the nest platform but no food appeared to have been dropped there - maybe it was dropped in flight.
The male in flight. Photo copyright David Naylor 
The chicks came to the front of the nest platform to the delight of those below and showed their growing confidence with long periods posing for the scopes. There was also a good deal of wing stretching and flapping.
There was an impressive turnout today with numbers massively boosted by those who came to see the poppies but who also enjoyed a spectacle of a different kind. Among almost 800 people who came specifically to view the birds were visitors from Uruguay, America and France.

A special mention should be made of the little boy aged about 6 or 7, clutching his toy peregrine in his hand. who had come with his mother to see the birds 'for real', but caught only glimpses of the chicks and so very much wanted to see one of the adults through the scopes. A joy to see such enthusiasm in one so young. Thanks to Helen, one of our volunteers, for seeking him out in the crowd after he had left because the falcon had returned, bringing him back to really make his day".

Thanks to all our trusty volunteers on duty today (Paul, Anne, David, Malcolm and Helen) and Marc from DWT. They stayed until 4 pm to accommodate all the visitors - a really dedicated effort!

The Project Team

Thursday, 8 June 2017

Watch Points, the Weeping Window of Poppies and a drone

Here's a report on the Watch Point held on Wednesday 7th June, written for us by Joyce Sawford, one of our trusty band of volunteers (the others that day being Tony Sawford and Paul and Jane Whitaker):

When we arrived at Cathedral Green it was dry but very windy. We had to give up on erecting the flags, and we had to weight the table cloth down with one of the tripods, but we were ready for the off by 10.30 am.
Both adults and two of the chicks were visible, and we soon had members of the public keen to look through the scopes at these wonderful birds!
The tiercel was on the right hand grotesque where he sat for most of the morning!
The tiercel (male) sitting on a 'grotesque'. Photo: Joyce Sawford

The falcon was on the nest ledge, supervising the chicks who took turns in coming to the edge of the ledge to look at us. Within half an hour she had flown off and brought in a mid-morning snack for her growing family.

Feeding time (also showing the wide angle camera above). Photo: Joyce Sawford 

After 30 minutes she flew off with the remains of their meal and stashed it above the grotesques on the north face of the tower, then flew between the Cathedral and Jury’s Inn several times before settling back on the nest ledge while the chicks slept.
Time to flex a developing wing. Photo Joyce Sawford
Suddenly, both adults flew off together and disappeared from our view, heading towards the south-west, possibly chasing an intruder. The young ones weren’t left alone for long though, as the falcon returned and resumed her supervision duties.  She retrieved the stashed prey and fed the chicks again, and the tiercel came to join her in the nest.

He then treated us to an aerial display of ascending and stooping before disappearing from our view. By this time the chicks had woken up and we watched them testing out their wings in bright sunshine, showing how well their flight feathers are developing.
We had a steady stream of visitors right up until 13:45, when it quietened down so we closed the Watchpoint at 14:00.

Some of our visitors today were local, and others told us they came from Chesterfield, Sheffield, Nottingham, Stafford and Switzerland".
The Weeping Window of Poppies
This seven week long installation at The Silk Mill, close to the Cathedral, starts on 9th June and runs for seven weeks....for more details see here .
It is bound to attract many thousands of visitors to Derby.

The Weeping Window of poppies.
So if you plan to visit one of our future Watch Points (the next one is this Saturday 10th), be aware that local car parks may be full. You might consider parking further away and walking the last mile or so (perhaps along the river through Darley Park?) -  or catching a bus into the city. Also bring a brolly - the forecast for the morning is rain......
Photo from Derby Museum's website
Better safe than sorry
(Very) early this morning one of the project team went down to see whether the flying of a drone (used to photograph the poppies from on high) would produce any reaction from the peregrines. The last thing anyone would want would be for one of the birds to attack the drone and either injure itself or damage the drone - something that has occurred with eagles in Australia for example (the videos are on You Tube).
Fortunately the flying took place in the immediate vicinity of the Silk Mill and nowhere near the cathedral and the birds took no notice at all.
The drone pilot (with small drone at his feet) prepares to get it airborne.
It was a lovely morning and great to watch the male bring back prey, pluck it and take it down to the falcon who fed bits of it to the chicks.
The cathedral seen from near the Silk Mill. Note the white plastic 'shroud' which
covers the men working to replace the lead roof. The nest platform is at the base
of the large louvred 'window' on the tower.

The Project Team

Saturday, 3 June 2017

First Watch Point and some images and an Update

Update June 6th: unpleasant cold, wet and windy weather in Derby today (Tuesday) but the sun should shine on tomorrow's Watch Point which starts at 11 am.
Nesting on the East facing side of the tower, it's only when there's an East wind blowing rain into the platform that the birds get a soaking - and that doesn't happen very often. They should stay dry this time.....

Update June 5th: while our (very urban) peregrines are relatively safe from persecution, those nesting in the countryside are not as you can see from this sorry tale from Shropshire. Peregrines are protected by law and because they are still rare and very vulnerable, are afforded a special level of protection which (should) enable higher fines and even a jail sentence to be imposed on those who illegally kill or who steal them for the falconry 'business'.......a UK peregrine can fetch a four figure sum when sold to the middle east.
To read an RSPB blog about the incident, go here .
Bird Watching magazine (June edition) has an article by 'The Urban Birder' about birding in Derby city, including a good section on the peregrines. Be aware though that not all newsagents stock this title...
-   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -   -

June 3rd: the first Watch Point was held today in mainly sunny weather.
Here's a report by Helen Naylor, one of our regular volunteers:

"Today’s watch point was very well attended with over 150 visitors enjoying some great views of the peregrines. The adult birds were around for most of the morning, sitting on the nest platform or on the stonework at the top of the Cathedral tower. Those people who arrived earlier in the morning were lucky to see one of the birds bring in some prey and feed the chicks. The young birds were clearly visible through the telescopes and at times could be seen stretching their wings and looking out over the edge of the platform.  Buzzards were also seen high up over the Cathedral Green and as one pair of birds circled past later in the morning they were soon seen off by both of the peregrines. A second prey item was brought in during the early afternoon and was stashed in the lead guttering higher up on the tower. Visitors were also excited to see the peregrines flying around the tower and directly overhead. 

Saturday's busy Watch Point - photo Marc Whitlock

Other wildlife included swifts catching insects above the Cathedral, whilst a Banded Demoiselle flew across the Green several times.  As the watch point finished at around 2.30 pm a shower of feathers descended from the tower as the prey brought in a little while earlier was being plucked.  It was a fantastic start to this year’s watch points".
The next ones are on Wednesday 7th and Saturday 10th June.
For details of these and the others please scroll down two posts on this blog.
And don't forget that attending a Peregrine Watch Point definitely counts towards your 30DaysWild, a campaign now being run by the Wildlife Trusts nationally and locally to get us all out and about in June getting close to nature.

Kate (watching in Devon) sent this screenshot captured today:
All the family together.....screenshot by Kate
And Wendy made this You Tube video on Thursday 1st June at 11.30 pm!
Interesting to see the chicks so active while the adult doses:

and here's a feed videoed by Wendy on 3rd June, mid morning in the sun:

The Project Team

Monday, 29 May 2017

Cathy no more and a TV update

Update: there has been some splendid footage of the peregrines nesting on Salisbury Cathedral on BBC2's Springwatch, starting with the programme on Monday and with more footage today (Wednesday). Well worth checking out using iplayer here .
Five eggs were laid over a 15 day period (that in itself is strange - ours lay their four eggs every other day) and now only one egg has hatched!).
(There was also a very clear mention of the fact that birds of prey (in this case golden eagles) have been 'disappearing' on managed driven grouse moors in Scotland.....though Chris Packham had to stay well clear of that item, understandably given the flak he's received for being 'political' and using his BBC presenter role to advance his private views (against the illegal killing of raptors on grouse moors especially).
In 2009, two of the four chicks reared and fledged that summer soon came to grief.
One was found freshly dead on top of a block of flats near the cathedral a matter of days after she fledged. Evidently she had flown into a smoked glass screen which surrounded the top of the flat roof of this building, breaking her neck and dying instantly.
We put the corpse in a deep freezer at Derby Museum (where Nick M worked at the time) and rather than bin it, decided to get it set up by a taxidermist when we could find the necessary cash (£400).
This specimen has proved very useful for showing children especially what a juvenile peregrine looks like, how big it is and what it's various features (e.g. its talons, cere, eye ring, feather details etc) look like.
The newly mounted female with Chris Orgill our
taxidermist. Note the metal BTO ring on its right leg and the orange
coloured ring on its left leg signifying the bird is from Derby cathedral.
This bird's sister also flew into a building somewhere, was picked up and taken to an animal refuge in Nottinghamshire. We brought her back but since she had a problem with her right shoulder, later identified by a vet as being inoperable such that she would never fly again. Rather than put her down - and with a willing and experienced carer to hand (Colin Pass) we decided to keep her in captivity.

Cathy in 2014 showing adult features

She was a docile bird and seemed to adjust to her new situation very quickly. Colin christened her 'Cathy'.
He looked after her for many years, finally handing her over to another carer (Leslie and Dave Robinson) a few years ago.
One morning last week she was found lying dead in her pen, presumably having died of natural causes.

We were not able to use Cathy for educational work as much as we would have liked for many reasons, not the least of which was getting a special DEFRA licence to enable us to take her to schools etc.
Cathy intrigues and delights a young lad at an open day at the cathedral
We would like to thank Colin, Leslie and Dave for looking after her so well over the years.

The Project Team

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Watch Points to start soon and news of Cathy

Update 25th May: news has just reached us that Cathy, a peregrine reared at the cathedral in 2009 has recently died of natural causes. Cathy injured her wing and shoulder soon after fledging and had been in care ever since. More on this in a future post to the blog.
The Project Team

As the chicks grow bigger by the day, they will soon be visible from the ground as they start to peer over the lip of their nest platform. Once they can be seen from below we start our annual Peregrine Watch Points on the green behind the Cathedral.

Telescopes are set up so that anyone passing by (or visiting especially) can get a close up view of the chicks and their parents. Volunteers are on hand to help explain what people are seeing and the background to the project.
This series of events are organised by Emma Wood from the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust's People Engagement team, assisted by Marc Whitlock.
School groups can visit by arrangement....

The Watch Points will take place (weather permitting) on every Wednesday (11 am - 1.30 pm) and Saturday (10.30 am - 1.30 pm) starting on Saturday 3rd June and running through into July. 

The definite dates confirmed so far are:
Saturday 3rd June
Wednesday 7th June
Saturday 10th June
Wednesday 14th June
Saturday 17th June
Wednesday 21st June
Saturday 24th June
Wednesday 28th June
Saturday 1st July
Wednesday 5th July
Saturday 8th July
Wednesday 12th July
Saturday 15th July

If you've not been to see the birds 'for real' before, then do make the effort to come along.
You need bring no equipment - we supply the telescopes!
If you've not been before then do please come along and meet our friendly volunteers and see the birds that you've watched online 'in the flesh' flying about (just the adults initially!) and finally all five (we hope.....).
Cathedral Green is on the East side of the cathedral, divided from it by Full Street. There's parking on street and at various council and private car parks within easy walking distance.
And the cathedral shop does very good light lunches not to mention their Bakewell tarts!
An added attraction this year will be the Poppy Weeping Window installation at the Silk Mill between our Watch Point position and the River Derwent. This begins on June 9th and runs until 23rd July every day. For more details see here .
The Project Team

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Three cheers

Three of our four chicks have now successfully hatched out, which is great news. The first emerged early on Saturday morning; the second hatching out on Saturday afternoon. By early Sunday morning we saw our third chick, though it probably hatched late the evening before, judging by viewers' comments. However, it seems we may not be successful with the fourth egg - but this sometimes happens.

For viewers new to our webcam and blog, do check out the comments left by other watchers below each post - it can often update you far more swiftly than our Project Team can, and people are often quick to respond to questions you may have.  (Sometimes comment moderation is employed which can itself lead to a delay in information appearing, but we keep this to a minimum). The pictures and video below have all been captured by our wonderful band of peregrine enthusiasts. Again, links to these may be found in the comments left, or you can check out our Flickr group for screenshots captured and uploaded.

Three chicks with an egg, and dad!

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 18.37.58

Screen Shot 2017-05-16 at 18.36.27

This 20 minute video by Wendy Bartter shows some lovely moments when all three chicks are fed so tenderly.

All our camera images are available under a Creative Commons share-alike licence. You are free to use and modify them, provided you are also willing  to make them freely available too.

We are having dificulties this morning with the camera feed on Page 1 not always appearing, However other cameras are functioning, and you can get an audio feed by clicking the link below

Listen Now (20 minute timeout):

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Who's The Daddy?

Our first chick of 2017 hatched very early around 04:37am today. Once again, it was one of our keen webcam watchers (BeeThistle) who spotted and reported this on the comments section of this blog.
Here are some initial screen shots taken this morning - first showing a broken egg fragment, then just a very brief glimpse of a tiny chick. (scroll down for the full video of this morning's events)

Don't forget to check our other cameras - the view from our new Cam4 on Page 2 gives a great, low-down view, letting you see the chicks more easily. As its audio isn't compatible with our streaming service, here's a live audio feed from another camera which you may want to run in the background. It stays on for longer than the cameras, and is a great way of monitoring next activity.
Listen Now (20 minute timeout):

Once again, our webcam watcher, Wendy Bartter, has come up trumps with a great video compilation of this mornings action, together with a first glimpse of the newly hatched chick and its caring parents.

2017 has seen the latest ever date for egg-laying and hatching, as you can see by the chart on our Frequently Asked Questions page. Previously, the latest date was 10th May though, of course, this season has seen a significant change in the nest dynamics at Derby. As some blog readers may be aware, we now have a new male this year. This bird (with a ring on its leg) either ousted or replaced the previous (unringed) adult male (read more here). We still don't know precisely when he moved in, or indeed whether the eggs we see hatching today were fertilised by him, or the previous male, as the first evidence we had of his arrival was in early March - quite some time after we normally start to see the adult birds mating.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Watching and waiting . . . and now listening

Our webcams see their most traffic when our peregrine falcon eggs are about to hatch, with a second spike in views at fledging time. So right now is our most popular time.

Listen Now (20 minute timeout):

We currently have four cameras, two of which are new this year. Only the camera on Page 1 currently has sound, although we did purchase a second camera from Network Webcams with an in-built microphone and the ability to be remotely controlled, which you can see on Page 2.

Unfortunately, we discovered too late that the encoded audio from this new camera (Panasonic SW-175) was incompatible with Network Webcam's own Streamdays service, which we've used to great effect for the last 10 years. Having expressed our disappointment to Network Webcams, they offered to make good this shortcoming by providing us with a free "audio only" feed, taken from our other camera. This has a much longer timeout period (20 minutes) than three of our four camera streams, and so viewers might wish to click on the "Listen Now" button below to add in the missing audio.

As we watch and wait for what we are hoping will be imminent hatching, I'm sure many viewers will appreciate the ability to monitor the sound for that bit longer. If you wander away from your computer, leaving the sound running, you can dash back to restart the video feeds when you hear sounds of activity on the nest - perhaps a changeover between the adults.

Our other new camera can be found on Page 3, also with a 10 minute timeout. However, there is no timeout to the camera feed on Page 4, as this is series of static images which updates every 6 seconds or so. Viewers with limited internet connectivity, or a desire to run screen capture softeware (e.g Irfanview) all day long to capture those magic moments, may find this stream ideal.

If you do capture a moment you'd like to share with everyone, you can find details (here) of how to post them on our Flickr page.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Forthcoming events

There's a lot to look forward to in Derby this season.

Poppies:Weeping Window by Paul Cummins
(image from Derby Museums website)

Pretty soon we hope to be seeing the first signs of hatching of our (very late) eggs. We had a change of male this year, causing the eggs to be laid much later than normal as you can see from copy of our master timetable, normally found on our 'FAQ' page.
Extrapolating from past dates, we can expect hatching next week, around Wed 10th or Thursday 11th May.

22 Feb - 30
22 Feb -
30 March
1 March
16-24 March
15 March
8-16 March
1st Egg Laid
28 March
13:00 pm


24 March
23 March
28 March
3 April
no cams
2nd Egg Laid  
30 March
March 19:30pm
31 March
6 April
31 March

31 March
no cams
3rd Egg Laid   
2 April
April 04:20am
2 April 
9 April
2 April

2 April
no cams
Last Egg Laid


11 April
5 April
31 March
31 March
4 April
9 April
no cams
First Egg Hatches

10 May
29 April
8 May
no cams
Ringing Date
no ringing in 2017
 23 May
 25 May
no ringing in 2009
26 May
1 June
First Fledging

14-17 June
18-22 June
14-16 June
9-11 June

23 June

No of Eggs Laid/
Chick Ringing
Ring No. (Gender)
(Note: orange ring on left
on right leg)
none ringed
030 (F)
031 (F)
032 (M)
026 (F?)
027 F?)
028 (M?)
021 (M)
022 (M)
023  (F)
024 (M)
016 (M)
018 (M)
019  (F)
020 (M)
012 (F)
013 (F)
014 (F) 
015 (M)
none ringed
008 (M )
009 (F)
010 (F)
011 (M)
003 (F)
004 (M)
005 (M)
007 (M)
001 (F)
002 (F)
not colour-ringed

We'll then be announcing our WatchPoint dates to the media though we can tell you that they will start on Saturday June 3rd and run every Wednesday and Saturday mornings until early July at least. This year we're expecting big crowds coming down to see the Weeping Window poppy display at the nearby Silk Mill Museum on Cathedral Green. Maybe we'll see some of you there?