Wednesday, 23 December 2020

Displaying already

Antony Pooles, one of our Watch Point volunteers who passes the cathedral regularly, reports seeing some display between the pair on the cathedral tower a few days ago:

He wrote:
“There was  a nice bit of early pre-breeding interaction by the Derby pair this afternoon (Dec 19th) with some 'ee-chupping' from the female and bowing by both. All very promising for 2021!”

He reports that the new female in residence seems to be a feisty individual and that we may be in for an exciting breeding season. His photo above shows both adult birds on the top of the tower.

On the web cam front, we have renewed hope that serious attempts will be made by the city council’s IT unit to establish connectivity in January….fingers crossed on that!

Meanwhile, merry Solstice, festive greetings and let’s hope for a better New Year. 

Stay safe

The Project Team.


Monday, 17 August 2020

Dead peregrine found on nave roof

 An adult female peregrine corpse was discovered and retrieved from the roof of the cathedral recently.

It was long dead with just bones and feathers remaining. It was unringed. It is not possible to age the bird or gain much if any further data from it though we are still exploring who if anyone may be willing to analyse it.

           The large talons and wide tarsus were indicate of a female (males are smaller in every respect)

                                  Some of the bird's primary (flight) wing feathers

This bird may be the female which has been breeding at the cathedral since 2006 but which went missing earlier this year. Or perhaps it is one of possibly two new females that were seen during lockdown.
The suspicion is that these females had been fighting for control of the tower and that, in the process, one might have killed an other.

If it is our resident female, then she has done us proud over the many years she has 'ruled the roost' and raised so many young.

I guess we will never know. 

Nick B for the Project team

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Lockdown lifted - and a mystery revealed

Britain's nationwide lockdown is finally easing. Shops and business that have been shut since mid-March because of the Covid-19 pandemic, are starting to open, and the staff at Derby Cathedral are now preparing for its reopening for private prayer from 8th July.

Earlier this week we were delighted to be permitted to go up inside the tower to check on our own favourite birds of prey after a gap of over 3 months. Many of us have missed being able to watch the online antics of our pair of nesting wild peregrine falcons as they courted, laid eggs and reared their young. 

We were deeply frustrated by not having been able to connect up our webcameras before the lockdown kicked in (as explained here), so we knew we'd have to rely on the reports of those able to view from the street below.

But something else occurred this year, too...

It was hard to be sure when it happened, but reports started to come in suggesting we had lost our old and reliable female falcon to a new, younger model. Local naturalist, Anthony Pooles, kept an eye on the Cathedral for us as he travelled to his job as a 'keyworker'. He began to conclude (see here) that the falcon had been replaced by a new, younger female, and that she might be incubating, albeit on the other side of the nest platform than usual.

Unable to see into the nest, we had no idea if egg-laying had occurred, or they'd failed to hatch, or if chicks had died. Then, in late May we concluded that this new female had probably not laid eggs.

So, finally, we can confirm and reveal at least some of what has been going on. Despite not being connected to the web this year, our cameras are set to trigger to record to an internal memory card when movement on the nest platform is detected. The oldest recordings get overwritten once the card is full, so it was a rush to retrieve them as soon as we could. As I connected up my laptop and accessed the internal recordings, I found we had over 900 short video clips, but only going as far back as 20th April.

By that date, eggs would normally have been laid and incubation well underway, and with hatching anticipated for early May. But the picture below shows what we found on Monday 29th June.

Nest platform on Derby Cathedral as seen on 29th June.

It revealed a pristine nest platform, with no signs of eggs, chicks or much activity at all. So what happened?

Reviewing the saved video clips, it seems our male peregrine falcon (with a small silver ring on his left leg) is now enchanted with a sub-mature adult female, and they have been courting one another all through April, May and June. We've seen food swaps, lots and lots (and lots) of head-bowing and eechupping. But the male has a slate grey-coloured back, whilst this new female still seems quite brown on top, despite her horizontal breast bars. For all my years with this project, I'm no expert on the peregrines' appearance once they've left their nest sites as we rarely see them again. But to me she looks like she is just coming into adulthood, so presumably a 2nd-year bird, and not quite ready to raise a family.

But, boy, have they been trying!

The video clips our camera has captured show a well-bonded pair, going through the familiar routines of food-swapping, head bowing and eee-chupping towards one another with their heads bowed.
You can see this in the two clips below, captured on 24th April and 28th April (note the ring on the male's left leg in the second one).

But what has been surprising is that this courtship continued into May, and on through June...

 and right up until 28th June, as below:

It seems probable this prolonged courtship display will continue for a little while yet, though it's far too late in the season for this new pair to lay this year. But what does seem likely is that they will bond well during 2020 and start a new, successful breeding partnership in 2021.

It has been a frustrating time for everyone, from hopeful webcam watchers on the other side of the world, to your own Project Team here in Derby. In one sense, their failure to breed means we haven't missed much with our webcams not being online this season, but in a far greater extent it seems we've missed a considerable amount!

Nick M
for the Peregrine Project Team

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Further Update on May 23rd 2020

Our dedicated volunteer, Antony Pooles, has been keeping a beady eye on the peregrines this spring for us. He is employed as a 'key worker' quite near the cathedral and pops over in his lunch break to see what he can see.

Here is his latest report for which we are really grateful even though it sounds as if we won't be seeing any chicks this summer:

"Well here's another update and I may be the bearer of bad news (at least in terms of eggs/young for this season).
When I last emailed I was fairly convinced that incubation had begun.
The 'new' female had flown in a couple of times and had looked to have nestled straight down on something.
I'd witnessed what I thought was a changeover (I'm now thinking this may have been the female returning to her 'clutch' after a brief flight with the male) and my last sighting had been of a stretched wing and raised tail above the platform edge as incubation looked to be progressing.
As this is normally a quiet time of the breeding cycle, I have only visited three times over the last week (all roughly around 2 - 2.30pm).
My first visit lasted around 45 mins and at no point did I see any part of the female but wasn't worried since I was viewing from the ground at a steep angle so any movement wouldn't necessarily be seen.
After around 15 mins the male flew in calling and perched on one of the grotesques there was no movement or reply from the platform which I found unusual as the female has always been very vocal! I left with the male sitting on the grotesque and a feeling of unease...

My second visit was shorter (around 25 mins). The male was again on the grotesque and cut quite a lonely figure. This is quite an unusual position for the male as he normally leaves the tower for Jury's Inn when a female is about - his presence on the tower looked like he was defending a territory/advertising a vacancy?
Again there was no sight or sound from the platform.

Happier times - one of last year's chicks being ringed
Photo by Gillian Foxcroft
Today (22nd) I visited for around 45 mins, the male was on his grotesque and again there was no sign (or sound) of life from the platform. After around 20 mins there was a brief bout of calling (causing me to look up from the platform to the male) and in flew a pristine, gorgeous adult female Peregrine. A real cracking looking bird and definitely different to the 'new' female who always had a slight yellowish hue to her breast - one of the reasons I thought she might be a young bird.
By comparison, this one's breast was crisp white.
She bowed and sidled up to the male and then took flight (she has either a missing or loose tail feather that causes a gap to one side - something I hadn't noticed with the previous females).
The male took flight and the two circled together before first he and then she disappeared towards Friargate. All this and no reaction or sight of the 'incubating' female!

In conclusion I now believe that the 'new' younger female has abandoned the male or been usurped and replaced by another adult female (or possibly the old bird is back on the scene - with a bit of tail moult).
Anyway I think we can abandon any hope of successful breeding this year!
Goodness knows what the project team will find when they eventually manage to get up to the monitors in the tower when the cathedral re-opens>
Abandoned eggs? No eggs? Maybe even an incubating female fast asleep, sitting tight and refusing to believe her mate is off with another bird!"

Thursday, 7 May 2020

Further update from Antony Pooles and an eggy update

UPDATE 8th May:
Antony (see below) has today witnessed a change over at the nest platform so there are eggs for sure! Thanks Antony.

On 2nd May, our Long serving Watch Point volunteer, Antony Pooles, who walks past the cathedral from time to time en route to work in the city, reported thus:

"I've just seen the female Peregrine fly into the platform and nestle straight down on something - albeit on the wrong (slate) side of the platform.
So it's looking very like she's incubating something.
When laid and if viable (given this bird looks and acts like a different, younger and more naive female - and is also spending a fair bit of time off the nest) we'll have to wait and see.
Have seen no evidence of prey being brought to the platform so if there are eggs, they haven't hatched yet!
Peregrine photo (not at Derby) taken by and with 
permission from  Pauline Greenhalgh (her copyright)

Meanwhile, the male was on the Jury's Inn building. At least that's a reasonably constant theme!!"

So, things seem to be sorting themselves out and as Antony says, there may well be eggs even if they have been laid on what we regard as the 'wrong' side of the platform - the one where we put small pieces of slate as opposed to the other side which has gravel and in which, the (previous) female always laid her eggs. This is the side on which the better camera is focused...and that's why Nick Moyes dreamt up the idea of encouraging her to lay on gravel she could scrape a depression in rather than slates which she can't!

Thanks Antony....further updates welcome if you get a chance!

The Project Team

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Podcast about Urban Peregrines

Naturetrek has produced a 40 minute long podcast about urban peregrines and Derby gets a couple of plugs along the way!
The podcast is essentially an interview with Ed Drewitt based near Bristol.
Ed is the author of the book Urban Peregrines published a few years ago. Ed visited Derby in the early days of the project and we have been sending him prey remains and our observations ever since.

The adult female peregrine photographed by Dave Farmer (a few years ago now!)
We also made the world's first recording of nocturnal feeding by urban peregrines back in 2010 when a woodcock was brought back to the tower at about 11pm on a December night.

The woodcock video is on Youtube here

If you have time, do watch the podcast here and learn more about these remarkable birds.

Meanwhile, Antony Pooles, one of our super Watch Point volunteers, has to walk past the cathedral to get to his work in the city and he says there have been three peregrines around the cathedral....two females and a male.
Quite what is happening he (and we) don't know.
Is the third bird an intruding female? (Antony says it is an adult and not one of the pair's previous offspring).
Will one of the females disappear and leave the or a pair to breed successfully?
Only time (and Antony) will be able to tell us since the cathedral is locked up and we can't get down there ourselves anyway,,,,,,

The Project team

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Web cams to watch

Should you want to see videos of our Derby Cathedral birds in years gone by (2006-2018) you will find many scattered through past posts on this blog.
Alternatively, go to YouTube, search for "VC57UK", and all 150+ videos will come up, in year order.

As the current peregrine season progresses, we'll take a look back at a few of these videos and milestones in our project, so you can get a sense of what stage the 2020 birds are probably at.

So let's start where it all began, back in April 2006...

We had already measured up the tower and pre-constructed the new 'temporary' nest ledge, but appalling weather that year had forced us to postpone installation until 5th April. We used extra long ropes  and pulleys (supplied by Derby Mountain Rescue Team), but it was our own Nick Moyes and climbing partner, Nick Evans, who you see doing the actual installation.

Live Peregrine webcams to watch
On the basis that ours own webcams are not now going to be re-connected this season, here are some links to other LIVE peregrine web cams around the UK. Where shown, the egg count was last made at 25 March:

  • The Wildlife Trusts host many web cams including peregrines at Leamington Town Hall and Nottingham, ospreys at several sites, barn owls etc. See here.
  • (Nottingham had its first egg on 16/3, should be 4 by now)
  • Leamington Town Hall (hosted by Warwickshire Wildlife Trust has 3 eggs)
And here are a few more around the UK:
Other wildlife webcams:
And for a website which has links to literally hundreds of web cams in the UK and around the world, go here but be aware that many are not working presently either because the birds have not started nesting yet or because funding has run out.
This Latvian white tailed eagle web cam IS working and so is this osprey cam in Wales and the Manton Bay nest at Rutland Water where at least one adult has returned already.

Alternatively, go onto YouTube and search for 'species x' web'll get old videos as well as live ones. If you find any particularly good cams do please send a comment with a link.....European birds preferred!

Nick B/Nick M
for the Project Team

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

It seems we've failed

If you read our previous post, you will be aware that the very final step in connecting our webcameras back to the internet was thwarted  a few weeks ago by the simple absence of a very specialised security key. It is needed to unlock one side of the base of a piece of City Council-owned street furniture, close to Derby Cathedral.
Webcam view of a first egg, seen back in 2007

Without access via this key, it is physically impossible for a high-speed fibre cable to be connected up to the new wireless device which was specially fitted to the top of  a tall pole so as to communicate with the inside of Derby Cathedral tower.

It's as simple as that: no key; no webcam connection.

Our colleagues at the Council and their contractors have done their level best to locate the key. They tell us that last week a huge bunch of keys, supplied by the lock manufacturers was taken to the camera pole, but with no success. Nothing fitted.

And now, as the country enters at least a three-week lockdown through Coronavirus, we have to admit our deep disappointment and sheer frustration at our failure to jump this final hurdle. It seems highly unlikely that we shall now be able to find which individual or council department has possession of this key. And, even if we do,  would anyone now be allowed to spend time out on Irongate making that last essential link connection? We doubt it.

We are deeply sorry to every one of you who has supported us, and to whom we gave our word that we would undoubtedly reinstate our peregrine falcon webcam in advance of this nesting season. Everything was in place. We did all we could, but it wasn't quite enough, and time has now caught up with us. We will all miss out on the exciting scenes we've come to enjoy in past years of the world's fastest creature living out its life, laying its eggs and tending to its newborn chicks on the side of our city's Cathedral tower. From past history, it is likely that our falcon will lay her first egg over the next seven to ten days...but with the cathedral closed, we won't be able to check on the monitor in the tower.....or report back to you all.

Of course, should the lost key to this pole be found, and that final connection made, we will update you immediately. Everything else is in place - the cameras cleaned; a new microphone installed; the nest platform prepared, and all the IT infrastructure wired up. But one simple plug just cannot be connected. 

So, a big thank you from the Peregrine Project Team and from our friends at Derby City Council who we know will be just as frustrated as we are.

Nick M and Nick B.
Peregrine Project Team

Ps. In our next blog post we will suggest other active bird web cams you can watch including some peregrine ones......


Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Missing wifi key - do you have it?

As many people in the UK and elsewhere adjust to finding themselves confined to their homes during the developing coronavirus pandemic, thoughts will undoubtedly turn to ways to keep ourselves occupied and sane when we can't get out and about.

It has long been understood that access to wildlife and to the outdoors has a significant, demonstrable impact on our mental and physical well-being (see hereherehere and here). And so, finding ourselves constrained from travelling or coming together with like-minded souls to experience the natural environment may be a challenge for many people.

For our own part, the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project has, over the years, received many messages from people who were ill or housebound and unable to travel to get their 'fix' of nature. For them, using webcameras like ours offered a very special opportunity to watch and enjoy wildlife from home. For some it was a real lifeline to nature. And so it is now more important than ever before that we provide as many of these opportunities for safe enjoyment of wildlife whilst so many of us are considering self-isolating to avoid the spread of this horrible virus. 

Worm Purple technicians installing a Siklu
wireless link on a streetside column
on Irongate.
Over the last few months we have been inching back towards restoring our webcamera connections. Thanks to Tim at Derby City Council IT department, and to Mark at Worm Purple, we now have a pair of wireless units mounted and ready to link our equipment inside Derby Cathedral's tower equipment to the internet. One unit has been set up inside the clockroom of the tower, whilst its partner is mounted on a council-owned column in the street below. We know they work and are ready to go. But...

...there was still one small but critically important problem left to surmount. The key could not be found!

No, this isn't the wifi key or 'password' needed to set up the wifi units - it's the actual, physical key needed to unlock one side of the base of the column so that the network/PoE cables can be plugged in to complete the link and power up the Siklu transmitter unit.  For the last two weeks they've been asking high and low to see who at the Council has it. And now, we hear, it might have been found, and we shall know in the next day or so if it has.

Once we do, we can complete the re-configuring the new equipment to send a video stream to our webcam-hosting company, and from there direct to your PC, wherever in the world that may be.  Whether we shall be in a safe enough position by mid-May to run watchpoints on the Cathedral Green, it is simply impossible to say at his stage in the pandemic. But with some of the UK's peregrines already having laid their first egg of the season, making that final internet connection for our webcameras - so that we can all watch them from home - can not come soon enough.

Nick M.
for Peregrine Project Team.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Derby male takes over at Belper after resident male dies

It is widely known now that a pair of peregrines has been nesting on East Mill in Belper for several years, in fact since 2012.

Last week, the male of the pair was found close to the mill. It was injured either from colliding with a car or a bridge or both. On xray at a friendly vets practice, where no charges are made for treating wildlife, it transpired that this bird had been shot at some point. There were two lead pellets, a superficial one in the skin but another deeper one in the bird's flight muscle.
Sadly the bird died subsequently at the vet's.
Lead shot is poisonous but the extent to which the shot in the bird's body played a major role in its ultimate death is unknown.
Suffice to say, the bird had been illegally shot - presumably somewhere near Belper causing considerable outrage...and rightly so.
See this piece written shortly before the bird died (and this piece after).

On Sunday (8th), bird watchers with cameras at the mill spotted and photographed a new male which has already taken over. This bird bears an orange ring on its left leg with the number 035 on it.
Checking our records, it was reared (and ringed) at Derby Cathedral in it is still less than two years old.
035 photographed at Belper by Graham Bacon (c)

In that year, three chicks fledged at Derby: a definite male (weighing 545 grams at ringing) which died of canker within a few weeks and a definite female which weighed a much heavier 815 grams.
The third bird (035) weighed in at 665 grams and was considered likely to be a female....wrongly as it now turns out. Sexing young peregrines at that early stage is not an exact science; heavy males can weigh more than light females...…

035 has now been seen mating with the resident female at Belper so hopes of getting eggs are high.

With thanks to Ian Bradley for the latest news and for getting permission to use Graham's fine photo.

Nick B
The Project Team

Friday, 21 February 2020

A new season begins and an Update

Update Friday March 6th:
Nick Moyes abseiled down to the nest platform to clean the tray and camera lenses and fix a new microphone. The weather was good and he completed all the tasks successfully.

With the web cams soon to burst back to life, it is an appropriate time to start blogging again as we begin yet another breeding season.
Scroll down to read about the hard and complex work now being undertaken to get full connectivity.
It's not been easy but we a re almost there!
The only way to watch the cameras at the moment is to go up the tower to the small project control area where the monitor can be switched on. Nick Moyes has already observed some courtship the omens are good for another successful breeding season.
Displays on the nest will continue increasing in intensity as the weeks progress. Mating will occur in March and the first egg should be laid either at the end of March or in early April.
Before then, Nick will abseil down to clean up the nest platform well before egg laying begins.

Nick Moyes prepares to clean the nest platform
To read (much) more about the project click on the various tabs at the top of the blog home page.

To see any of the 50+ you tube videos of the 'highlights' over the years (egg laying, the rearing of the chicks etc) search on YT for Derby Peregrines VC57  and scroll down the blog for links.

Male peregrine on the edge of the platform
Photo Graham Whitmore
The female falcon
Photo Colin Pass
More pictures and stories from the past will follow over the next few weeks.....

The project team this season consists of Lisa Witham (manager), Emma Wood (until April), Mike Goold (Watch Point Events), Sam Spickett (community work), Nick Moyes and Nick Brown.

Nick Brown
The Project Team

Thursday, 6 February 2020

2020 Vision - Update 1

This update follows on from Tuesday's post, below.

Earlier today I went down to Derby Cathedral to meet up with two technicians from the oddly-named IT company, Worm Purple. Named after a child's accidental description of weirdly-coloured ethernet cables, Worm Purple provides the hardware connectivity for Derby City Council's IT infrastructure.

Worm Purple installing wireless network link

Tim and Adam had been busy. Using a small 'cherry picker'  they had already fixed up a new wireless link onto a streetside pole on Irongate by the time I had arrived. It was one half of the final network link we have been pushing and waiting for over recent months. The unit was aimed upwards, towards the clock face on Derby Cathedral, so our next task was to establish whether it would be 'seen' by a similar unit placed inside the tower's 'clock room', where our webcamera kit is located.

As the years go by (and our project has been going since 2006) it seems that every time I ascend the ancient spiral stone staircase, my knees get progressively weaker, and I get increasingly  out of breath! Today was no different. Once inside, we rigged up an ethernet cable to a power supply unit so we could test out the other half of this wireless equipment, manufactured by SIKLU.

Adam and Tim from Worm Purple with one half of a SIKLU wireless access unit
As I had expected, we needn't have worried about the four or five centimetre-thick slab of painted sandstone which forms the clockface. It took just a few moments to clamber up behind the clock-face and establish a link by pointing it roughly downwards towards the street below and allowing the units to talk to one another. Great - so our next step was to find a way to fix the unit into position without doing any damage to the historic stonework of the tower.  So no drill-holes and bolts into the walls!

As luck would have it, there were already two solid horizontal beams running behind the clock face, and slightly staggered in their position. It seemed a simple task to tie a pole to these two beams, resulting in an ideal to point downwards. So, after getting them to pose for a picture Tim and Adam shot off with the radio unit, removed the other unit already in place in Irongate and sent them off to our friend an colleague, Tim Unwin at Derby Council. His task is now to configure the units to the Council network, prior to them being refitted at either end of our link. Once done, we hope it should be a relatively quick task to get the connection reestablished to our webcam hosting company.

Whilst we were up in the tower, we were delighted to able to watch our male peregrine drop in to the nest platform and do a little bit of scrape-making. He lay down on the gravel bed, pushing back with his talons, slowly carving out the simple depression into which the female will lay her eggs towards the end of next month. Before we left, and by way of thanks, I took Tim and Adam up to spiral stairs for a quick tour of the tower. We visited the carillon that automatically chimes the quarter-hour bells and another which plays musical tunes two or three times a day, and then on to look down onto the bells themselves, before coming out on top of the tower for a grand view across the city.
View onto Irongate from the top of Derby Cathedral's tower.

Hopefully, by next week we will at least have our network connection reestablished, and from there we can proceed to configure the public-facing webcams again.

Further updates to follow.

Nick M
Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

2020 Vision

Derby Cathedral seen from Irongate
2019 was a frustrating year for all of us involved with the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project - except the peregrines, that is. They did well and successfully raised another brood.

However, it was the lack of any publicly-viewable webcameras that was frustrating for you, our readers and viewers, and to us, the small team who try to keep the project running. The problem was a simple one -  complete absence of internet connectivity between the ancient stone tower of Derby Cathedral and the outside world!

We first fitted  web cameras on the tower back in 2007, and our Peregrine Project rapidly became a small internet sensation, known right around the world. Since then we have added more cameras, attracted over 4 million views, but also encountered some serious communication issues.

Our links to the big wide world have always been circuitous, to say the least, and we have been grateful throughout to Derby City Council and their expert staff and IT agents who facilitated that final link and configuration to our webcam hosting company, and thence to you, our viewers and readers.

  • First we beamed our signals to Derby Silk Mill Museum, and thence via a laser link into a nearby multi-storey car park, and from there into to Derby City Council's internet link. But the car park was damaged in a fire in 2014!
  • Then we beamed to Derby Silk Mill and from there via a laser link direct to Derby Council House. But then a newly constructed hotel got in the way! We lost our link  again.
  • So then the laser beam was repositioned, and we carried on again until 2018.
  • We knew it was coming, but late in 2018, Derby Silk Mill was totally gutted prior to a major refurbishment and new museum development, scheduled to open in September this year.
  • 2019 was spent trying to encourage our partners at Derby City Council to find a way to reconnect us with new equipment that we offered to buy.  At first, we thought we would need a £10k piece of kit - far too much for our project to afford. But new equipment appeared on the horizon, and a prices an order of magnitude lower seemed within our reach.

Inside the Clock Tower at Derby Cathedral
- our kit is under the stairs, and the clock alcove is just above on the left.
During late 2019 and throughout January we have been in contact with Tim, our friendly and enthusiastic IT expert at the Council House. He has identified a piece of highway infrastructure close to the Cathedral Tower which has a high-speed fibre connection inside it for other equipment.
We met a couple of weeks ago to assess  the route our radio signal could take.

Beaming any radio signal through one metre of sandstone block wall (the cathedral's 14th century tower!) is unlikely to be successful. However, we believe we have found a 'direct line of sight' to the nearby pillar via an alcove inside the Clock Room of  Derby Cathedral's Tower. In fact, it is immediately behind one of the tower's clock faces.

Alcove behind the southern clock face
- possible location for internet link equipment
But problem! Aren't decorative clock faces made of thick metal, like brass or something? Whilst it didn't look like metal from the inside, we couldn't risk it. So I rang up Smith of Derby who I know maintain the clock mechanism and some ten years ago refurbished the clock face itself (just check out their website for a picture). It might have been a weird question ("Hello, I'm trying to find out what the clock face at Derby Cathedral is made of. Do you happen to know?") but within 15 minutes I had a call back from them. It's a thin sheet of sandstone, just 5 to 6cm in thickness, I was reliably informed. Perfect! We're on.

This week I'm awaiting a chat with another IT expert, Mark, from a specialist company that Derby Council contracts to install their infrastructure hardware. (currently not naming them until I have their permission)

I'm looking forward to taking things forward and being able to report back on further progress. There will be equipment to buy and install, and we earnestly hope and need to have this installed and configured before the 2020 breeding season commences.

View from near clock face onto Irongate.
We expect to see courting and behaviour starting in a week or so. This is usually evidenced by the pair of birds visiting the nest platform, facing each other with heads down, and loudly calling "eee-chupp - eee-chupp" to one another.

 We welcome any reports of this or other behaviour and hope soon that everyone will be able to listen and to watch again with 2020 vision.

Nick Moyes
on behalf of the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project team.