Friday, 28 June 2019

Watch Point reports and SHE HAS FLOWN

THE FINAL WATCH POINT this year was on Saturday 6th July.
Here's Mike Goold's report:
At the Watch point today were Andy, Chris, Dave, Helen, Gill and Mike...
While enjoying a pot of real tea and toast in the Cathedral cafe prior to the start of the Watch, we noticed a shower of feathers descending amongst the heavy rain from the top of the Tower and quickly worked out that something was being eaten high up on the south side of the Cathedral. 
We headed out to the green and while we set up our scopes and info desk, we could only see the adult female sitting on the platform with the other 3 family members either hunkered down on the tower or on the more salubrious hotel roof top nearby (!) Who could blame them in that rain!
After a bit of scouting along Full Street, Andy located the juvenile male tucking into brunch on top of one of the south facing grotesques thus explaining the shower of feathers from that side of the Cathedral. We moved one of the scopes down Full St where many passers-by stopped and admired the view of the young Peregrine who, fortunately for the squeamish, had stopped eating. He stood proud for a short while atop of the dragon grotesque but then decided the weight of the food in his full crop was too much so lay flat out and got his head down at the back of the ledge!
At this point the male adult appeared carrying a fresh catch and delivered it to the female juvenile tucked out of sight on the roof of Bennett's shop. After a feed she took to the air with several laps of the green and tower. She eventually joined her sibling amongst the grotesques!
Around this time the female adult re-located to Jurys Inn where she sat on the letter N for the remainder of the Watch, and the male adult, after a short spell preening on his favoured spire at the Cathedral top, took to the air again. He returned not long after with another kill grasped firmly in his talons. After of couple of 'look what I've got, kids' laps above the Skill Mill Green he dutifully stashed at it in the top of the bell tower louvres for later consumption!
From there all of the Peregrines kept a low profile with only the male adult visible high on the tower spire!
Despite the British summer dreek throughout the Watch with rain falling in varying degrees of intensity, nearly 90 members of the public stopped to look through the scopes and chat about the Peregrines. One gentleman from Edinburgh had come down the night before to see a gig by an ex-member of the Adverts (a great '70's punk band) and, as he has a passion for Raptors (not a '70's punk band), decided to take a trip up to the Cathedral to see the Peregrines before returning to sunny Scotland!
So an eventful end to what has been a great series of Watches with 2 chicks successfully fledged. They're now flying and landing in the right places confidently! Not a bad way to spend Saturday mornings!

Story of the second fledging:

Mike Goold was on the case yesterday (28th June)! He saw the juvenile female on the platform at 4pm but by 7pm she had taken off and successfully landed on the roof of the Premier Inn further down Full Streeet as his photo shows.
Close up......Photo: Mike Goold

Female chick on Premier Inn roof. Photo: Mike Goold

Report on the Watch Point on Wednesday 3rd July:

Today, Wednesday 3rd July 2019, was bright and sunny with a gentle, warm breeze.  As we arrived, an adult peregrine appeared, carrying prey.  The young female was perched on the rooftops of Bennetts shop, just along from the Cathedral, while the adult perched on the roof of the Premier Inn across the road.  We watched as the young female became very excited and she ‘flew’ across to the other corner of the roof – she obviously spotted the adult who landed with the prey for her, before taking off and landing on one of the Cathedral’s pinnacles where it could keep watch.  The adult was calling loudly all this time.  The young female spent the next half an hour eating her fill.
Meanwhile, we watched as a buzzard flew across above the Cathedral roof and off into the distance.  A little later we spotted the young male, high in the sky.  We could see the pale border on his tail as he flew above us.  He rose higher and higher until he was out of sight, and that was our only view of him during the session.  We think that the adult male was with him, but it was difficult to be certain, as they were so high up.
Once the young female had eaten her fill, she again took to the air, circling right over our heads, before wheeling round and landing rather unsteadily on the Cathedral’s castellations.  She had a further short flight, landing on the grotesques and hopping from one to the next, before again taking to the air and disappearing from our view.  The adult female also treated us to several overhead flights, one where she was carrying prey which she cached above the louvre windows.  Once the young female had gone, she also took flight and disappeared from our view.  The show was over for us on our last Wednesday session of the season.  We had 36 visitors in total today.
Joyce, Tony, Steve and Mike

REPORT ON WATCH POINT 29th JUNE:Mike Goold writes:
At today's watch point were Helen, Jane, Paul and myself and we had about 50 members of the public come along and use the scopes.
At 9am the female chick was feasting on a catch that an adult had delivered to her on the roof of the Premier Inn. She had obviously been up there all night since fledging yesterday evening.
Juvenile female on Premier Inn by Dave Farmer
By the start of the watch point at 10am, we had the female chick hunkered down sleeping off her feed on a ledge of the Premier Inn roof overlooking Cathedral Green; the female adult keeping an eye on the female chick from the nest platform; the male chick sunning himself on top of the right hand grotesque at the top of the tower and the male adult preening on top of the left hand spire at the top of the tower. This gave plenty for the visitors to look at even if the Peregrines were static for about an hour.

Around 11am the female chick took to the air and was immediately escorted by the male adult. She did a few circuits of the tower and out over the green and eventually settled back on the Premier Inn roof. The male chick also took to the air, flying with and around her at one point, and he also landed next to the female chick on the Inn roof and had a snack from the remains of a carcass that had been deposited there earlier!
From there the rest of the watch became very quiet; the adults and male chick flying off towards Pride Park and the female chick resting in the shade of the water tanks on the roof of the Inn. can't blame her in this heat!
Flying well. Photo by Mike Goold
The adult female keeps watch from above. Photo: Dave Farmer.

Just as we ended the watch one of the adults returned catch-less, to the water spout on the tower top, the female chick calling loudly for food...she was continuing to cry out for a feed from the Inn roof as we all left!
Juvenile male back on the platform. Photo: Dave Farmer

Meanwhile earlier Watch Points have been going well with plenty of action:

Report on Wednesday's Watch Point (26th):
Well, what an exciting morning we had!  The scopes had been set up for less than15 minutes when the adult female treated us to a fly past with prey, with the young male fledgling chasing her, loudly begging for food!

                                                Juvenile male chases his mother Joyce Sawford

This behaviour was repeated on several occasions during the session, much to the delight of our visitors, who were suitably impressed.
The young female watched with great interest, practising flapping her wings whenever she had the chance, at one point actually 'flying' from one side of the nest ledge to the other.
The adult male spent most of the morning watching over the young ones from the grotesques above the nest ledge, then from the lettering on Jury's Inn.
                                                      Siblings together Joyce Sawford

Above the nest ledge, the female cached away the food and later she was seen plucking it, sending feathers flying everywhere.

We had around 60 visitors, including a couple from Colorado USA, and a group from Loughborough U3A who had been visiting the Cathedral and Bridge Chapel.  They kept us busy, asking lots of questions about the peregrines and their young ones as they looked through the telescopes. We don't think it's going to be too long before the young female takes to the air, so Saturday's Watchpoint (on 29th) should be well worth a visit.
Joyce, Tony and Peter

REPORT on Saturday's Watch Point

Mike Goold and Helen Naylor sent in reports of what was clearly a very good Watch Point yesterday (22nd). I've combined their words below:

180 people came to look at our peregrines with Jane, Paul, Hilary, Helen and Mike there to help them get the best views and the latest news.

We had several flights from the male chick, at one point riding a thermal so high above the Cathedral we wondered if it knew how to get back to the tower. It didn't disappoint with a spectacular stoop at high speed, landing perfectly on one of the tower pinnacles. Judging from its developing flight skills, he has probably been flying confidently for a few days now after his falls of Sunday and Monday. On most of his flights the adult female was in relatively close attendance, although he did have a couple of outings from the tower on his own.
Juvenile male chases for his dinner. Joyce Sawford

The female chick remained on the platform, exercising her wings during our time there. While she was exercising, she perched on the edge of the scrape and I noticed her left foot slip from the edge and she almost fell backwards into space but managed to topple back to safety.
One of the parent birds appeared to bring back some cached food towards the end of the morning and took it to the platform. After stuffing herself full, the chick got her head down for most of the afternoon and didn't reappear until after the watch had ended. 
The male youngster was calling on and off begging for food but was out of luck.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

The long wings of the law......and an update

Rescue Me!

After a phone call from Mike Goold, who is helping to run the Watch Points this summer, I dashed down to the cathedral at about 5.40pm today (Sunday 16th) to find that the male youngster had fledged but come to ground.
As I arrived at the car park next to the cathedral, I could see a group of four police officers and a traffic warden standing near the far corner - so I knew I was in the right place.

Looking somewhat dishevelled, the young male chick was on the ground in the corner, wedged between the brick walls and a couple of pallets. Gently I moved the pallets aside and the bird adopted the usual defensive posture -  on his back with his talons facing up at me.

Fortunately I had remembered to bring an old cloth and a cardboard box and was quickly able to catch him and show the force the full force of its powerful talons!
After they had taken a few photos and I had explained why the bird had ended up there and what its two rings were for, I put the bird in the box and, with the help of a cathedral steward, made my way to the foot of the tower.
Sunday evensong would begin in 15 minutes and the bells were being rung - so, box in hand, I climbed the tower as quickly as I could and released the young falcon on the top, feeling the tower shaking due to the bells swinging below me as I did so.
Safely in custody
All boxed up

Given that this bird had fledged (or been pushed) a bit too early (he still has some fluffy white down here and there as you can see) I decided to release him not straight onto a parapet but onto the roof of the tower. His parents will certainly find him there and feed him until he feels confident to jump up onto the stonework and launch himself once again.....
Where am I now?
I was soon back on the ground and off home but not before meeting up with Mike who had come to watch, unfortunately just too late to see the action (next time Mike!).

Big thanks to the folk at the cathedral who helped, the traffic warden who found him, the police officers for standing guard, the Rayner family who worked out a way to get in touch with the project  and to Mike for alerting me! Mike told me subsequently about the very roundabout way that some bystanders (the Rayners) managed to contact him. They did so via a relative who knew someone connected with the Wakefield Peregrine Project who managed to trace Mike via Facebook! A somewhat circuitous route but involving a great degree of quick and clever thinking. Thanks to all involved!

The next Watch Point is on Saturday 22nd June. Perhaps by then the heavier female will have taken the plunge? Do come down and see....

Meanwhile, scroll down this blog to see live footage of the nest platform set up by Peter who lives in the flats opposite the cathedral. Hopefully there should be one female juvenile still there (though sometimes crouched down and not showing above the front - so don't panic if you can't see her...she's probably there hiding from you!).

Nick B
The Project Team

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Amazing Live Stream from opposite Derby Cathedral!

Whilst we await the complicated radio link  connection to be established between Derby Cathedral and Derby Council House, we have to applaud the initiative of  a local Derby resident, Peter, who has established a live webcam link of their own.

Screenshot of Live link on TwitchTV
He clearly owns a telescope and lives in full view of the Cathedral Tower, and he posted on our Facebook page that he'd established live stream on TwitchTV which we recommend to those who - like us - have deeply missed our own webcam links.

You will have to sit through some 30 seconds of initial adverts from the website, but the service also seems to store past broadcasts which can be viewed, too. The Peregrine Project are not connected in any way with this service, and we don't know how often it will be run. But we welcome it most warmly, just as in the past we have welcomed those who have taken our live footage and created videos which we can then share. 

Sadly, it seems very unlikely that we'll re-establish the internet link in time for fledging in the next few weeks, and we thank everyone for their patience. We hope this brilliant initiative will be of interest to all our frustrated watchers, wherever they are in the world.
Chicks being fed by parent - screenshot of live stream at 3pm 15 June 2019

It's great to see the two young, rapidly developing peregrines actively moving around the nest platform  (though less impressive that everyone can see I've still not tidied up some messy Cat5 camera cabling which I didn't think anyone would notice!)

So, Peter, thank you so much!

Nick M
for The Peregrine Project Team

Monday, 10 June 2019

Ringing the chicks and a washed out watch point

Today's Watch Point was cancelled needless to say due to the interminable rain 
we are having.
Hopefully Saturday's will be OK since the weather looks better by then!

Newly-ringed chick

Before it started to rain this morning (10th), the two chicks were ringed successfully!
It looks as if one was a female (the bigger one weighing circa 900 grams) and the other a male (ca. 700 grams).
Chick plus new shiny ring shows off its developing primary wing feathers.
 Photo Gillian Foxcroft
Calm chick waits to be returned to its nest.
Photo: Gillian Foxcroft

Nick Moyes returns the chick to its nest platform
Photo taken from the monitor in the tower

The Project Team

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Two chicks confirmed and Watch Point Updates

NOTE: Watch Point Saturday 8th June is cancelled due to the rain.

A trip up the tower to look at the monitor screen this morning (4th June) revealed that there are just two chicks this year as you can see:

Photo on the monitor screen shows just two chicks
They look healthy and are just starting to get their pin feathers on the wings.

NEXT WATCH POINT: this Saturday 8th, weather permitting. The weather forecast doesn't look too good this time! It has been CANCELLED!
Do come along if you can and meet our excellent volunteers and see the birds for yourselves.

Report on Watch Point Wednesday 5th June:
A good session this morning with a steady flow of people. Quite a few locals as you would expect but several from further a field. A lady from Osnabruck in Germany (Osnabruck is the city Derby is twinned with), some guys from Birmingham and further away still a father and son from the US state of Vermont. Both our adult birds were in good sight for fairly long periods. They were out hunting successfully and returned to feed the two chicks. We had good sightings of the chicks, not together though but one at a time. For a few moment one of the chicks was stretching and flapping its wings, great to see and hopefully bodes well for the future. Volunteers on duty were Steve, Hilary and David.

The project team

Sunday, 2 June 2019

First view of a chick

This photo was taken by Antony Pooles, a Watch Point volunteer, at the WP event on Saturday 1st June.
It is the first 'real' view of a chick this year so a big thanks to Antony for capturing it.

Parental pride......Antony Pooles
When we looked at the monitor in the tower the other day unfortunately the chicks were all out of view on the right hand side of the nest platform....the very side that the only working camera can't see!
We'll try again this week and hope to confirm how many chicks we have...…

Meanwhile the next Watch Points are on Wednesday 5th and Saturday 8th, weather permitting.

Antony's report of the Watch Point on Saturday (1st) read:

Over 120 people attended today's watch point in what was (eventually) warm sunshine.. The chicks were fed twice in quick succession early on, first by the female and then by the male and both adults were around for much of the watch point frequently flying between the tower and the Jurys Inn to the delight of visitor and volunteer alike. We also got our first decent look at one of the youngsters as it sat next to 'Dad' for an hour or so with its head clearly showing over the edge of the platform.

The project team