Saturday, 5 September 2015

Skype For Schools

Teachers! Would you like one of our Project Team to drop in to your school classroom to answer questions on Derby's Peregrine Falcons. We're willing to travel anywhere in the world to chat with you!

We can offer schools a free, 30-40 minute classroom chat via Skype on some Mondays or Tuesdays. These need to be pre-booked and can be tailored to best meet your class needs.

Children from Brigg Infants School in Derbyshire made these drawings
of our first Skype classroom session 
The activity would be teacher led, and requires preliminary teacher-expert hook-up to plan and schedule the Skype activity. We would expect your class to have already done some peregrine falcon activities, and to have watched our webcameras on Derby Cathedral. Pupils would be encouraged to think about what questions they might put to an expert. For best effect, these questions would already have been sent to us in advance by the classroom leader. 

We also suggest a preliminary Skype hook-up with the teacher a week before to discuss the teacher’s needs, and to agree on how best to approach the session. 

Our Skype session is best scheduled immediately after a school break or lunch period. This allows time to ensure everything is set up and working before the class arrives. With pupils positioned in front of the school webcam, the teacher could invite each one to come up, singly or in pairs, to ask their question. This is not to preclude spontaneity, but is intended to ensure a well-structured session. 

Our volunteer Team member would be happy to explain the background to peregrines starting to live on Derby's Cathedral, or the current position in the peregrines’ life cycle, and what might be expected to be seen on the webcams in the weeks/months ahead.

Following the Skype session, teachers could encourage pupils to do  follow-up work, such as KS1 children doing drawings to show how they class hook-up went, and the responses they got from the Project Team.

This is a new activity for the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project, and is volunteer run. So we may have to give priority to local schools if demand is high.  But for now we can offer Skype sessions only Mondays or Tuesdays, most easily between the local British time of 9am to 10pm. 

Download a  Session Plan  Or contact the Project Team volunteer to discuss availability:

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Words of thanks

As our three year Heritage Lottery Fund grant comes to an end, it is time to celebrate what has been a very successful project and to say a 'thank-you' to the people and organisations involved.
We'll do this over at least two blog here goes with part one!
First, way back in 2011, Tim Brooks at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust coordinated and led on putting our bid for £49,000 together. While he is no longer with DWT, we owe him a debt of gratitude for his hard work getting the bid approved - never easy these days!
Our success with the bid was announced in May 2012 and work began in June of that year.
HLF Grant launch June 2012: the Deputy Mayor of Derby, a Cathedral
Quarter ranger, Nick B, The Dean and an HLF trustee.

Nick Moyes was taken on as our 'Technical Consultant' - though of course he has been the key player in this project right from the beginning - and much more than a technical adviser too!
Nick set to work in 2012 redesigning the blog, making a massive improvement to its previous format. Cathedral Quarter, a partner in the project kindly helped by designing a new logo and header for us (see the header above!)..
He also dreamed of getting a  new wide-angled camera...but more of that later.
Nick Moyes in abseil mode

Project Logo

Meanwhile, over the winter of 2012/13, we advertised for a Peregrines, People and Places Engagement Officer and Ian Layton was selected. Ian began (part-time) work in January, quickly getting to grips with what he was being asked to do.
Ian Layton - an engaging fellow!
He set about contacting both minority communities in Derby and also groups and institutions catering for people with disabilities.

Over the following three summers, he drew many new audiences to our project. Too many to name here, the photos below give an idea of the range of people who learned about peregrines and their presence on the Cathedral. Ian also ran the series of Watch Points each summer - assisted by our wonderful band of volunteers!

Ian (left) talks to and with refugees at Derby Refugee Advice Centre
Eritrean lad with harris hawk at Peartree Library
Eagle owl meets local resident at Peartree Library
Never too young to be wowed by a peregrine!
Woodlands School hearing impaired unit
visit at Watch Point
Lad from St Benedict's School sees his
first peregrine falcon
A busy Watch Point 2015

Engaging people at a Watch Point event
Note Ian at the far end on his knees!

In addition to this work, Ian organised the production of a number of excellent Schools Education Resources boxes which have proved very popular with schools across the city and county.

Education Resources box contents displayed

While Ian was carrying out all this engagement work, Nick Moyes completely redesigned the blog layout and design. He also fixed a wide angled camera to the back of the nest platform which gave excellent views of the birds: 

In the first spring with the new camera in place, it snowed
heavily just before the eggs were due

Three eggs and a tiny chick, May 2015 as seen
from the wide angled camera

Nick also created a display to go in the window of the Cathedral cafe in Irongate. This allowed passersby to see a live streaming view of the nest, a mock up of the platform with eggs and gravel and a time lapsed display of the various stone faces which peer down from the tower;

                                                               Cafe window display

Nick also maintained the IT and cameras, abseiled down each spring to clean the platform and adjust the cameras and also collected the chicks for ringing each May.....stalwart work!

More about the project and how the HLF grant enabled us to do so much more than we would otherwise will appear in a later blog post.

For now though - a hearty thank-you not only to Nick Moyes and  Ian Layton, but also to the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Cathedral staff (especially the vergers, Jackie Croft and Rachel Morris) to Cathedral Quarter (especially Ashley Lewis) and to a host of staff at the Wildlife Trust who helped Nick and Ian in so many different ways throughout.
We must also thank our splendid Watch Point volunteers who stood out there in rain and hot sun and helped so many people to see the birds 'up close and personal' through our telescopes. You are all Champions Without you we wouldn't have been able to run Watch Points at all!

Nick B (DWT)


Sunday, 9 August 2015

Hen Harrier Day 2015...and a peregrine flies over!

Today has been Hen Harrier Day 2015, a gathering of many hundreds of people in the Goyt Valley of North West Derbyshire to raise the level of awareness about the illegal killing of birds of prey, and in particular the Hen Harrier, on our moorlands.
The Hen Harrier day crowd assembles in the Goyt Valley
Organised by Birders Against Wildlife Crime (BAWC), a small voluntary group, the event was supported by the RSPB, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and our own peregrine project, among many others.
Speakers represented DWT and RSPB  - and even our project was given an honourable mention as one of many that have raised awareness of raptors and brought these fine birds to a new audience.
The keynote speaker was Chris Packham who spoke with verve, passion and total commitment. Videos of his speech will doubtless appear on You Tube early next week.
(Meanwhile, to see last year's torrential rain and the gathering of the 'sodden 570' and to hear Chris speak go here . It certainly was a day to remember!)

Chris Packham speaks with knowledge and conviction,
watched over by a huge model harrier
The previous evening in Buxton Chris had spoken without any notes for over 25 minutes to a crowd of 300 people, the highlight of an evening of films, talks and drama all about the hen harrier and birds of prey.
Earlier, Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller talked about the thinking behind his iconic image of a hen harrier carrying a Range Rover:

What a great weekend!
It was good to see some people from our peregrine volunteer group among the crowd. After all, this protest was about the persecution of all raptors on the moors, including peregrines.
Apparently a real live peregrine did fly over the assembled throng mid way through proceedings and certainly the same or another bird was seen over the moorland behind when people were dispersing.
Quite apart from raising the profile of this important issue, Hen Harrier Day is a great coming together of like minded people from all over the county (and far beyond) and from many different conservation groups.
We really do need to work together to tackle issues like this.
While our Derby peregrines appear to be reasonably safe from persecution, certainly while they are in the city, the same cannot be said for peregrines that choose to nest on grouse moors...their lives are usually short - and very far from sweet!

Nick B (DWT)

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Peregrine Resources for Schools - online now! Plus a Hen Harrier Day invitation

NOTICE: Stream 4 is now active. View it here
(And for details of Hen Harrier Day on Sunday 9th August see below.

Over the last ten days we have completed two final tasks we were committed to deliver under the terms of our Heritage Lottery Grant. Our three-year support from the HLF for the 'Peregrines, People and Places'  comes to an end this summer, and soon we shall have to look to new ways to continue funding some of the amazing outreach work we have achieved in that time.One task was a production of a self-guided leaflet for visitors to Derby Cathedral (more on that later); the second was the publication of an online schools resource pack.

Contents of Schools Loan Box on Peregrines
Earlier last year Ian Layton (our amazing Peregrines and People Engagement Officer) worked with a number of school teachers to develop a set of Education Resources Loan Boxes for teachers to use. There are four of these available to county schools, plus one for schools in Derby City, and a number of schools have borrowed and used them very successfully.

We also undertook in our grant bid to HLF to convert these for wider use by schools anywhere in the country - or indeed the world - and these have just been made freely available online for teachers to use. The resource pack offers ideas for using peregrines and other nest cameras as the core of a wide range of curriculum activities, from EYFS right through to pre-GCSE classes.

These include:

  • Design Technology, 
  • Science, 
  • English, Mathematics, 
  • Art and Design, 
  • Literacy, 
  • Speaking and Listening, 
  • ICT/Computing
  • History
  • English
  • Geography

All we ask in return is that teachers using our resources let us know how they got on, and give us feedback which may help to improve them in the future. (A few photos would be nice too!)
Many people have helped us compile these resources, and we are especially grateful to Helen Naylor from Brigg Infants School and Georgina Greaves of Derbyshire County Council's Environmental Studies Centre.

The Online Resource Pack is available as a 14Mb zipped download of 26 files from our Project's Google Drive here.  If you want to see what's in the resources box, or make your own, download a contents list here.

Let us know how what you think!
Visit our dedicate Schools page on this Blog for more teaching resources on offer from the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project.
Nick Moyes (project team member)

Hen Harrier Day Sunday 9th August - a rally in Derbyshire.

Our Peregrine Project is now an official supporter of this important day and event. See our logo among those of many others (including DWT and RSPB) on the hen harrier day website henharrierday .
At least two of the project team and several of our Watch Point volunteers will be there (along with Chris Packham) - so why not come and join us and hundreds more trying to raise the profile of the hen harrier which should be breeding on our Peak District moors but isn't....and neither are peregrines incidentally.....
If you don't know why there are no raptors on grouse moors (or why you should support this rally) then have a read of Mark Avery's blog here for example (a post from May).
And if you can't come along, then at least please join the Thunderclap here.
If you want to let us know you will be there or to ask any questions, email .