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Important: Please see the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project blog for important news about the webcams.
Peregrine falcons first nested on Derby Cathedral in 2006. Three web cameras now let you monitor their progress, day or night, all year round.
During the following breeding seasons, the cameras and blog brought all the action and updates to over half a million visitors.
The ancient stone tower of Derby cathedral dates back over 470 years. Records suggest that peregrine falcons have roosted and hunted from the tower at many times over the centuries. But then in the mid-20th century, their numbers crashed suddenly. They were virtually wiped out from many parts of Britain and the world.
A pesticide called DDT - dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane was found to be the culprit. It caused thinning of their eggshells which then cracked during incubation. Only after DDT was banned, and peregrines given legal protection, did their numbers slowly start to recover. They began to return to their former haunts.
In 2006, a young pair showed strong signs of wanting to breed on Derby Cathedral, but there were no suitable ledges. So we built and installed a wooden nest (position shown ringed in the adjacent picture). Three young birds were successfully raised. In 2007, staff from Derby City Council's Museum Service installed two webcams and began a Peregrine Falcon blog to keep everyone up-to-date with events. A third camera was installed on top of the tower in 2008. It is now possible to watch peregrines all year round at Derby, whether feeding and roosting on the tower, or raising young on the nest ledge from March through to June. Infrared vision lets you watch them at night, too.
Adult peregrines can be seen on most days around the tower at Derby's Cathedral Green, or perched high up on the blue lettering of nearby Jurys Inn Hotel. Even outside the March to June breeding season they are often visible on one of our webcams.
Look for birds on the east (rear) face of the tower where the nest platform is located half way up. Or look higher up a ledge of gargoyles near the top. The female peregrine is considerably larger than the male (also known as a tiercel). One or both birds are usually 'on guard' prior to egg-laying, but during incubation and brooding the female is rarely seen. She mostly stays out of sight on her nest. That's when the web cameras come into their own.
If you do not have your own binoculars or telescope, why not politely ask other peregrine watchers if you can try their equipment? Most will be happy to let you look.
As the chicks grow rapidly during May there is an increase of activity around the nest, with both birds bringing back food. This increases still further once the birds fledge (leave the nest), and then there are exciting acrobatic displays to be seen by watchers on the ground in Derby city centre. This happens in mid June/early July as the young are taught to fly and hunt.
Cathedral Green is at the rear of Derby Cathedral, near the Silk Mill Museum in Derby city centre, England. The best viewing point is from the very bottom of Amen Alley, or by standing on Cathedral Green. Don't forget binoculars if you have them. Further information on Cathedral Green and the location of Derby Cathedral at the corner of Amen Alley and Irongate (Postcode: DE1 3GP). Do watch out for traffic if crossing Full Street.
Why not combine a shopping trip to Derby with a visit to the museums, and call in to see our world-famous peregrines for yourself, all in one day? We've great links by road or by rail, and Park and Ride facilities and many great hotel facilities too. Follow this link for Derby Tourist Information.
Derby Museum and Art Gallery contains an exciting wildlife gallery, showing many of the habitats and species that live here. Come and stand close to a peregrine falcon in the Derbyshire Nature Gallery, then go and watch one flying free over the City Centre. Please note that our specimen is very old and that museums today do not condone or encourage the taking of any bird for display.
Other nearby birdwatching opportunities include the River Derwent footpath, going either upstream to Darley Park or downstream past the Council House and on to Pride Park. Just 200m from Cathedral Green, a Park-and-Ride bus from the Council House takes you to The Sanctuary, a new bird reserve next to Pride Park Football Stadium where many unusual birds can be observed, and where our peregrines sometimes hunt. You can cycle there in just a few minutes along the riverside path. Further afield, there are many Nature Reserves owned and managed by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.
Twenty video clips from the 2009 season can be viewed by following this link to a special video page on the project blog. You can also find them on our YouTube channel. They range from courtship, mating, and egg-laying through to hatching, ringing and fledging. Check out the Blog for regular updates and new videos from the current season.from YouTube)
A fantastic DVD entitled “The Peregrines of Derby Cathedral” is now available for purchase. It includes a large number of high quality and intimate video highlights from past breeding seasons. Each is described with a commentary by Nick Moyes from Derby Museum and Art Gallery. The DVD lasts about 35 minutes and tells the story of Derby's peregrine falcons and features Chris Packham, well-known as a BBC TV presenter.
The DVD is available to order by post at £9.99 GBP, post free, from the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust office in Belper.
You can also buy copies direct from our Derby Museum shops or from Derby Cathedral.
To pay by debit or credit card and have one posted direct to your home at no extra cost (if you live in the UK) please phone the Wildlife Trust on 01773 881188 (Mon-Fri 9am - 4.30pm). Your copy will be dispatched the same day. UK cheques should be made payable to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and sent to the Trust at: East Mill, Bridge Foot, Belper, Derbyshire, DE56 1XH. We can post abroad but we'll ask you for an extra 'donation' of £1 towards the higher postage costs.
Other webcam projects, not in English:
For more information about the project please contact: Derby Museum and Art Gallery, The Strand, Derby DE1 1BS. Telephone 01332 641901
The Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project has benefited from the help or support of many people: N. Brown; N. Moyes; N. Evans; T. Grantham; W. Dillon; J. Osborne; K. Brewer; Eco-Watch; T. Cairns; J. Salloway; D. Slinger; M. Mallender; J. Heaton; R. Kilgour; E. Jones; H. Hopkinson; J. Connolly; R. Jones; C. Parkinson; J. Taylor; E. Drewitt; N. Dixon; P. Precey; the BBC, plus the many peregrine watchers and, of course, to the vergers and authorities of Derby Cathedral without whom none of this would have been possible.
Funding or material support for the web cameras came from many sources: Many small donations at Peregrine Watches; other anonymous gifts; Derby City Council's Wild Derby, Development and Tourism, Highways Department and ICT units. The peregrine project partners have high hopes for developing these webcam services in the years ahead as additional resources or sponsorship permit. Please contact either Derby Museums or Derbyshire Wildlife Trust if you would like to contribute to this project.
We are grateful to the following individuals who have made donations to keep the project and the webcams running, or have given other support in kind.
If you wish to support the Peregrine Project by making a donation, there are currently three options:
Either: Ring Derbyshire Wildlife Trust in office hours on (0)1773 881188 to make a payment using your debit or credit card (please specify Peregrine Project) or send a cheque made out to 'Derbyshire Wildlife Trust' and send it to: East Mill, Bridgefoot, Belper, Derbyshire, DE56 1XH, clearly marking it 'Peregrine Project'.