Thursday, 17 July 2014

Thank you Tony, thank you Ian, thank you all

With our birds safely fledged, it's a good time to thank a few people:
Tony Grantham. Tony was the Head Verger at the Cathedral when we started this project 2005/6). He resigned his post a couple of years ago to spend more time working with his wife, Dawn, on their thriving business importing and selling cutting machines.
Tony was a fantastic help to Nick M and me in those early days. Once he saw the birds himself, he became entirely hooked on them. He opened so many doors for us, both literally and metaphorically, that I doubt the project would have happened at all had he not been there to smooth its passage.
Thanks Tony for all you did for us - without you we'd be nowhere!
Tony helps out when a juvenile comes to ground
Ian Layton
Ian came on the scene early last year when he was appointed as People and Peregrines Engagement Officer for two summers, funded by our HLF lottery grant. Like Tony, Ian quickly adopted the birds and the project. He has made a huge difference both to our engagement of people and to the Watch Points themselves.
Just now we are trying to identify enough money to offer Ian the chance to work with us again in summer 2015. Meanwhile of course, Ian has to earn a living and that may mean he becomes unavailable next summer if he gets a permanent job somewhere. Time will tell.
We'd love to have him back if we can get him - he's been a pleasure to work with!
The likely lad

Our Watch Point volunteers
As usual, our trusty volunteers have turned up come rain, come shine, to help on Cathedral Green. Standing there for three hours and more can be very tiring - so they all deserve our thanks! This year they've been helped by our excellent Rolls-Royce team of graduates and apprentices. More on them later since they continue to work with us until the autumn.
Ian with sight-impaired children from a local school
School at a special Watch Point

Our donors
We have thanked each donor individually as we always do - but they deserve our special thanks because, without them, the project would have floundered long ago. Even with our lottery grant we still need our own income every year since the grant is not 100%. It requires 'match finding' to the tune of over £1000 each year.
If you would like to make a donation - please see the tab at the top of the blog home page which gives advice about how to do it. It is very simple!

Our partners
While the wildlife trust carried the bulk of the work, we would be no where without our partners. The Cathedral staff have been wonderful again, helping in all sorts of ways behind the scenes. We must particularly mention John Armitage, a great help to Ian especially, and Jackie Croft, Cathedral Administrator and Development Manager. Jackie is leaving Derby soon and we will miss her. She helped with the recruitment of Ian and in many different ways has been very supportive of our project. Thanks Jackie, we wish you well for the future!
The Grade One listed tower, now almost 500 years old!
Thanks also to the vergers who tolerated our incursions on their territory throughout the Watch Point season. Special thanks also to verger Matt who stayed late on bird ringing night so as to lock up behind us - much appreciated!
Final thanks to the cathedral office staff (Kim, Irene and Lucille) who booked rooms for us, handled enquiries and much more.
Thanks to Antony Messenger for ringing the chicks for us, as he has done every year since 2006.
Thanks to Serco and the city council's IT team for keeping the cameras up and running. An excellent job you've done! Thanks also to Melanie at Cathedral Quarter for her ideas and support, especially to the RR team.

Our web cam watchers and blog commentators
Last but by no means least, our virtual 'community of watchers and commentators; we'd be so much the poorer without all of you. 280,000 hits since January testifies to the way you've become addicted to our special birds. And over 800 comments so far this year shows how you have chipped in with observations and comments, keeping us on our toes and helping us too by keeping watch when we couldn't.
Brilliant work!

No doubt we've missed a few people....apologies in advance.....but it has been yet another good season and we look forward now to 2015, our tenth anniversary...provided the adult pair play ball and stick around! On that subject, do keep tuning in because our birds will be visible from time to time. We will keep the blog going all year...unlike so many other peregrine sites.
Two juveniles by Colin Pass

Nick Moyes/Nick Brown
Ps Don't forget the Hen Harrier Day Rally on 10th August 'up county'. Details as ever of Mark Avery's blog ...though you may have to hunt about a bit to find the latest updates, posted every Monday at 6pm.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Final Watch Point news of a juvenile and a new book

The final Watch Point of 2014 will be this coming Saturday 5th July, 10.30 to 1.30, weather please do come along.The juvvies are still about so there should be plenty to see....and if not you can always wander off and find a white letter hairstreak butterfly - as long as it's sunny!
Update Saturday afternoon: the weather improved greatly for the Watch Point but the birds were somewhat absent for the first hour and a half. Then all three juvs appeared on the tower and, very late on, the adults also put in an appearance. Big thanks to all our great volunteers (and especially Sue who travelled up from Buckinghamshire, bringing with her a big bag of change that she and husband Andrew had accumulated over the last several months!) and to Rolls Royce team members Fred, Jon, George and Sandra.
The season is now officially over as regards watch points and the wonderful Ian, our Engagement Officer, who has run them again this year, has now only one more week to work this summer. We'll miss him! Apparently one prey item today was a swift - not really a species we want them to catch since we are starting a new project about these marvellous birds!

Last night we ran a session for a Derby school class that was doing a sleep-over in the cathedral to raise money for some charitable cause. Both adults were in view and as we finished, two juvs appeared on the JI lettering! Many thanks to Joyce Sawford for her help, use of her telescope and her photos. NB
Lakeside Primary learn about the fastest bird on the planet
Photo Joyce Sawford

(Further thanks to all donors who have sent money recently towards the project - we need more of 01773 881188 on Monday (full details under donations tab!)
Photo by Jon Salloway
News has reached us that one of the males reared in 2012, having been found injured a couple of months ago near Alfreton, will never be able to fly again in the wild, having a wing injury similar to that of Cathy, the female who has been in the care of another falconer since having her accident in 2009. Fortunately, a falconer is willing to look after this new casualty and has already taken him to the vets and administered treatment for worms and trichomoniasis. He's now in good health and putting on weight. The falconer has obtained a licence from Defra to keep the bird.

Guided wildlife walks last weekend: Joyce has sent a photo of the first group down by the river Derwent:
Looking for otters.....? They do pass through the city -
but not in the daytime!

Further, a reminder that Ed Drewitt's excellent new book Urban Peregrines (£24.99) is available from Pelagic Publishing: . It's packed with photos and information and Derby gets several mentions too. The neat cover design title copies the style of a street sign (it took me awhile to figure that out!)

There are chapters on Food and Feeding, How to study peregrines, Ringing them, How to spot a peregrine, Threats and Futures, People and Peregrines etc - and a foreword by Chris Packham. Altogether a very important and readable publication - long overdue!

Finally - and talking of Chris Packham, he has agreed to attend a rally in North Derbyshire on 10th August, organised by Mark Avery, to highlight the plight of the hen harrier. So far 200 people have pledged to come - but more (many more) are welcome! For details go to Mark Avery's influential blog at .
The hen harrier should be present on most upland moors in England - there's room for perhaps 200 pairs - but last year none bred and this year there are just three pairs (none of which are in the Peak District national park). You can find out what's behind this strange and very disturbing affair by reading the many posts on the subject on Mark's blog.

Nick B (DWT)

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Lots to do and see on this Saturday 28th..walks and DerwentWISE event

Update Sunday 30th June: despite a rather grey day and some mid-morning rain, over 20 people came on the guided walks. We saw swifts entering a building, elm trees with weird looking galls, himalayan balsam, feverfew, woundwort, harlequin ladybirds, various trees, buddleia growing out of a chimney and more besides. The second group did see a white letter hairstreak sitting high up on the tree and several people said they would get back there on a sunny morning now they knew where to look. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the peregrines showed themselves mainly on Jurys Inn. The last Watch Point of the year will be next Saturday 5th July.
Thanks to those of you who have donated to our project. If you've not done so yet please consider it. There's a 'donate' tab on the blog home page - or scroll down to an earlier post.
If Andrew from Mickleover could send in his email address (to ) I'd be grateful because I seem to have lost the piece of paper on which he'd written it. NB

The peregrine season is certainly drawing to an end though the Watch Point this coming weekend should be worth coming to, with the juveniles still pestering their parents and chasing them above our heads hoping for some food. Expect plenty of action!
In addition there will be three free guided walks starting on The Green led by Nick B. Weather permitting, they are timed to start at 11 am, 12 am and 1pm so take your pick! Bring some binoculars if you have any......but we'll lend you some if you don't. They will last c. 45 minutes.
(And the new DerwentWISE project has an event 1-5 pm in the nearby Silk Mill Museum - see below)
Nick will hope to show you some swifts and at least one local building in which they nest.
A new Swift Project, joinly run by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust (DWT) and the Derbyshire Ornithological Society (DOS) aims to locate exactly where swifts are nesting both in Derby and beyond.
Swifts can be seen around the cathedral tower
Photo Stefan Johansson
Swifts have declined rapidly partly because when buildings that had swifts nesting in them are renovated, the birds, often by accident, are excluded.
If you live in Derbyshire and think you can help, do get in touch. If you live beyond, then the RSPB is running a national swift survey and they will be glad of your records - .
If you want to find out more about the exciting provision being made for these charismatic (and very urban) birds visit Swift Conservation's website .
These swift boxes near Ashbourne are in use every year
Swifts are amazing birds. The young fledglings remain airborne until they are old enough to nest themselves. They sleep, feed, drink and even mate on the wing and of course they fly to Southern Africa for the winter.
Their noisy screaming chasing low over the rooftops were such a feature of summer evenings in our towns and cities...but for how much longer?
Also, we'll look by the river for the banded demoiselle - what a beauty to find in a city!
Banded demoiselle damselflies turn up at Watch Points sometimes!
The guided walks will also take you to an elm tree that has a colony of the delightful White Letter Hairstreak butterfly on it. This little insect suffered major declines when Dutch elm disease killed most of our elm trees. This particular elm is now probably the only tree in the city where you can still find this species.
WLH sunning itself on an elm leaf, Chapel Street, Derby.
The new DerwentWISE project, funded by the lottery, will cover the lower Derwent Valley from Derby north to Matlock. Do come to the Silk Mill to find out more about it - especially if you live in the area but even if you don't. There will be activities for all ages - dream catcher making, exploring underwater life and rangoli making (what is rangoli? I better go and find out!) plus details about what the scheme will achieve in this lovely valley that runs north from Derby and over which both swifts and peregrines hunt! 

Nick B (DWT)

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Last one goes (Thursday 19th at 3.07pm)

Update Sunday 22nd June: a busy Watch Point yesterday which carried on umtil nearly 3pm because people kept coming just as we were about to pack up! Plenty of bird action too with two of the three juvs in view back on the cathedral above the nest and both parents visible on and off. At one point the falcon brought in some food and was chased about by two very noisy juvs. She dropped the prey deliberately to encourage them to cathc it but they failed. Her attempt to retrive the falling bird before it hit the deck also failed....and the bird dropped to earth feet away from punters enjoying a quiet drink in the outdoor beer garden behind The Dolphin pub....much to there bemusement! the corpse was hastily retrieved and deposited in a waste bin. Thanks to our volunteers and to Joel and Sandra from Rolls-Royce who stood on Irongate enticing passersby to go and see the birds.
Don't forget to make a donation to support the project and keep it running. Get the details by scrolling down to an earlier post. NB

The last juvenile has flown....watched by several web cammers including Mrs. Lewis' class from Alfreton. Many thanks everyone for alerting us - we'll nip down soon and check where he ended up! The other two were on top of Jurys Inn this morning - so they are still both OK.
Norma's screen grab showing departing juv top centre
A trip downtown circa 5pm showed the two juvs on Jurys' roof but no sign of the third bird. However the parents seemed very relaxed so I'm sure it's up there somewhere...maybe even on Jurys already.
Interesting to check the clustr map on the blog and see that we've had 20 hits from Brazil - far more than usual.....some Derby based England fans must also be peregrine fans methinks! Nick B (DWT).
Update Friday evening: all thre juvs seen by Christine which bodes well for tomorrow's Watch Point. NB.
So, that's that for the time being. We'll keep you updated as best we can and you may well see birds on the nest and above too occasionally in the coming days.

A few things to mention:

1. Please donate to the project to keep it running - scroll down to the previous post for details. And a big 'thank you' to those how have donated already - it is much aprpeciated!

2. Come along to the Watch Point this Saturday morning (21st) to see the youngsters learning to fly and hunt.
Be sure to have a delicious Bakewell tart and a coffee in the Cathedral shop opposite the main entrance and look for the green men that stare down at you by the sides of the west door....they are very nearly 500 years old!

3. Think also about coming the following Saturday (June 28th) when there will be three short Guided Walks starting at the Watch Point to show you some of the other great urban wildlife in the vicinity - details to follow.

White letter hairstreaks live close by......
Swifts nest in nearby properties
4. If you live locally, consider joining the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. To find out more about what the Trust does visit the website - . If you live further afield - you might join your own local trust - visit .

Nick B (DWT)