A pair of wild peregrine falcons adopted Derby Cathedral's tower in 2004-5. In 2006, using a specially constructed nest platform, the birds laid eggs for the first time...
That year they successfully fledged three chicks and ever since have raised between two and four chicks each spring. Web cameras have been beaming close-up views of these iconic birds across the globe since 2007. The Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project is a partnership project aiming to bring people a little bit closer to these amazing wild birds of prey.
The Derby Cathedral peregrines can be seen from the ground by going to Cathedral Green, behind the Cathedral, and looking up with binoculars. They also often perch on the lettering on the Jurys Inn Hotel nearby and are sometimes clearly visible as you drive into Derby on the A52. However, by far the best way to catch a glimpse of these birds is via the webcams.
The webcams remain active all year and even in winter you can sometimes see the parent birds on the tower. Click here to see the webcams. The cameras show both sides of the nest and also the top of the gargoyles where the birds regularly perch, feed and roost. A new camera giving a wide angled view of the nest was installed early in 2013.
If you watch the web cam that looks across the ledges above the nest in the late evening (around 10-11pm) between September and March, you may see the birds in hunting mode - alert, looking outwards to try to locate potential prey. Their target species are woodcock, snipe, lapwings, golden plover and an assortment of thrushes, though they do eat other birds during the winter – find out more about what peregrines eat here.
You can read the latest news on the diary or blog which is regularly updated. This is a valuable resource for schools, researchers or anyone who is new to the project and missed the previous years' breeding seasons. It is also the easiest way to see the live pictures - click on the webcams tab.
Over 50 short video clips showing the highlights of the breeding season from previous years (display, egg laying and feeding the chicks for example) are available on You Tube.
The fall and rise of Derbyshire's peregrines
The peregrine is our most charismatic bird of prey. Sadly, it suffered a rapid demise in the 1950s and 60s due to the use of persistent pesticides, and by the 1970s, peregrines were so scarce that in some years not a single bird was seen in the county.
Since then peregrines have been making a welcome return to their former haunts. In 1984, after an absence of 30 years a pair bred again in the Peak District. By 2004, there were at least 15 nests, the birds using ledges on natural cliffs and quarry faces. Further south a pair adopted Willington Power Station's cooling towers, nesting there between 1993 and 2000, and rearing a total of ten young until the station was decommissioned.
The Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project is a partnership between the Trust, Derby City Council, Derby Cathedral and Cathedral Quarter. In June 2012 the project received Lottery funding, plus an anonymous donor left the project a four-figure donation and also agreed to match any new donations with some of their money as an incentive to others to contribute to the project. Despite the Lottery grant, donations to the project are always welcome, please call us on 01773 881188 (office hours) for further details.
If you are new to this exciting project in the heart of the city, then you can find archived video clips of the key moments during past breeding seasons on the project's lively blog.