We have an egg! The first egg was laid at 5.52 this morning, the first day of British Summer Time. Thankfully somebody was watching at that time. This is the moment, thanks to Alan!
You can just see the egg peeping out! Let’s hope this is the start of a smooth and successful breeding season for the St. George’s pair. It’s the next milepost along the way after strong pair affinity to the territory throughout the winter and numerous March copulations.
There has been recent speculation that things weren’t going to plan this year with a possible third bird hanging around (not again!) and seemingly less interaction between the birds in the last week or so. But then again maybe they knew something that we didn’t? It may well be difficult to keep track of all the comings and goings this year now that we are all housebound and unable to get down to St Georges to take in the bigger picture. Not to mention the reorganisation and crisis management many of us are trying to manage in our day jobs! Peregrine watching this year will be limited to webcam watching more than ever.
Laying is a week or so later than we have been used to expecting down the years but this is a new pair so they may like to do things differently! No two birds are exactly the same. Up and down the country various (well monitored) Peregrine pairs are at slightly different stages of breeding with some pairs already down to full-time brooding a complete set of eggs (e.g. Norwich) and other pairs only recently into the copulation stage (Leeds Uni). Most places are somewhere in the egg laying phase so Sheffield Peregrines are by no means lagging behind now we’ve joined the egg club.
Like many other birds Peregrines will keep their eggs warm as they arrive, one at a time, usually a day or two apart but they may leave the eggs unattended from time to time for short periods. This is perfectly normal. Only when the final egg has been laid does the diligent, round-the-clock, constant incubating commence. During this period the eggs will only ever be exposed to the outside temperature for very brief moments and this very infrequently, for example when the birds change over or if the female turns the eggs.
Since the Webcam was installed in 2012 we’ve been able to follow and record the nest activity and the data across that time tells us that generally the first egg has started to hatch 31 or, more commonly, 32 days after the last egg was laid. Clutches can be 3 – 5 eggs but most commonly in Sheffield with the previous pairing we have had four eggs. Eggs should be laid roughly every two days over the space of a week (based on a 4 egg clutch) so keep watching but especially in the first 12 hours of Tuesday.