It’s been a quiet few weeks as the adults have been incubating, but things could start to liven up by the end of the weekend as the expected hatching date approaches. My best guess is that the first egg may hatch on Monday, but a day either way wouldn’t be a surprise. Last year the first signs were audible rather than visible as one webcam viewer could hear the cheeping of the chick inside the egg! A tiny pale patch on the shell of the egg was the first indication that one of the chicks was pecking through and things moved pretty quickly after that. So keep eyes peeled in the days ahead, and ears too!
One of the few interesting developments recently has been the presence again of a third bird around St George’s, which was chased away determinedly by the resident female, who came off the nest despite the male being perched up on the turrets. It seemed that her extra size was important to chase off the intruder, which also looked to be a female, perhaps one of last year’s young still in the vicinity. The photo below was taken at some distance, but does allow a very pronounced moustache bar to be seen – quite distinctive from either of the resident pair and similar to the head pattern of the third bird captured on the webcam a few weeks ago. Another one to keep your eyes out for.
On the subject of last year’s birds, we’ve had news that an immature male, wearing a metal ring, has been seen on several occasions at Wakefield cathedral, where a Sheffield-built nestbox (courtesy of Jim Lonsdale and his team) has attracted a pair. They have been seen copulating but it may well be that the young male is not yet ready to breed successfully. It’s tempting to think that this may be one of the Sheffield fledglings, though without a webcam and/ or good photos it will be very difficult to know for sure. Even with close views, it’s not been possible yet to read the ring of the resident male, but if you can manage it from the picture below, do let me know!