We have our first egg! Almost exactly a year to the day since the first egg was laid in 2014 (20th March) and a week ahead of 2013 the female’s behaviour this morning indicated that something might be about to happen. She spent much of the morning in the nest box with her ventral feathers ‘deployed’, giving her a ragged look, as below.
Around 13:15 the male joined her on the box and they engaged in some ‘bowing’, after which I went for some lunch.
Of course, by the time I next checked the webcam, there was an egg, apparently laid just after 13:30.
The female spent the next 45 minutes standing over the egg, initially without brooding it, looking pretty drained. She did subsequently settle down on the egg and began to pull pebbles up towards her, apparently building the lip of the scrape to make a more pronounced cup.
Around 14:30 the male arrived on a nearby ledge with some prey and after some calling she promptly flew off.
Shortly after this the male (identified by his more complete black hood, especially on the cheek, as well as smaller size and ring on his right leg) came onto the box and soon started brooding the egg, all this within about an hour of it having been laid.
A distant view of the church after work showed both birds to be around, one on the perch and one on the turrets. With an egg in the box they’re unlikely to leave it unattended and the next few weeks will give excellent opportunities to watch the adults around the church, perhaps seeing off any potential threats to the eggs such as Crows and gulls. Last year the four eggs were laid over the space of a week, with roughly 54, 70 and 49 hours between them, so we’ll see how that compares to the situation this year. It seems unlikely another egg will be laid tomorrow (Friday), but Saturday afternoon could be worth watching! Tonight the female’s on guard in the box, though not actually brooding.
This is quite normal, and nothing to worry about as brooding in earnest is only likely to begin once the clutch is complete, or nearly complete. In the meantime the eggs are pretty resilient to begin left exposed to the elements for a few hours at a stretch and the adults will be watchful somewhere nearby, even if they’re not visible via the webcams.
Here we go again on another breeding attempt: let’s hope it all goes as well as last year.