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