Following an eventful autumn, in which we feared the worst when the female was seen looking very poorly on the nest platform on 11th Sept, things have happened very quickly. After her illness, the adult female seemed to recover and was subsequently seen looking well around Sheffield, but before Christmas what looked to be a new female had taken up residence with the original male at St George’s. Whether the original female had died or been usurped is not clear, but the new pair has been in evidence for the last couple of months, showing pair-bonding behaviour and nest-scraping.
However, they caught me by surprise by laying the first egg on Saturday 19th, a day earlier than the first egg last year and just over a week earlier than in 2014. Thanks to Helen for sending through a screengrab shortly afterwards.
The egg was unattended for much of the day, which is quite normal, but was brooded overnight, and the female is again brooding tonight, which is no bad thing given the relatively low temperatures.
Peregrines usually lay between 3 and 5 eggs, and if this is indeed a new female she may have a different clutch size to the previous four eggs that were laid in each of the previous years at St George’s. They typically leave up to 48 hours between each egg laid, so it may well be that another appears early tomorrow morning, with early mornings the favoured time for laying over recent years.