Hot water bottle on a rope helps Derby Cathedral falcons lay eggs

One of the peregrines at Derby Cathedral.
Image caption One of the peregrine falcons at Derby Cathedral.
A member of the trust lowers the hot water bottle towards the nest from the tower at Derby Cathedral.
Image caption Derbyshire Wildlife Trust lowered the hot water bottle on to the nest in March to melt the snow.
The hot water bottle lying in the snow.
Image caption The bottle was lowered 50 ft.
Two eggs in the nest.
Image caption Two eggs have now been laid. The trust said it hoped to see a third.

Two peregrine falcons have laid their first eggs of the year after conservationists used a hot water bottle to melt snow from their nest.

The birds have nested on the tower at Derby Cathedral since 2006.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust was concerned the amount of snow that fell in March would prevent the falcons breeding in 2013.

They used a rope to lower the bottle 50 ft (15m) down the cathedral tower to the nest.

The trust runs the Derby Cathedral Peregrine Project, which was set up six years ago to monitor the birds.

Tourist attraction

In 2007 the trust built a wooden platform on the side of the tower to give the birds the space they needed to nest and set up a webcam so people can watch the birds.

Ian Layton, community engagement worker, said: "We built the platform on the eastern side of the cathedral to protect the birds from westerly winds. But unfortunately, a lot of the bad weather this year has come in from the east and covered the nest in snow.

"The birds were late to nest this year. We are in touch with falcon projects across the country and most of the other birds had laid their eggs by March."

He said the trust had decided to use the hot water bottle after talking to experts.

So far, the birds have laid two eggs and the trust is hoping they will lay one more. In the seven years the falcons have nested at the cathedral, they have produced 23 chicks.

They have also become a popular tourist attraction.

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