With any luck the waiting is almost over. Today is the 32nd day since brooding began in earnest and going on previous years today or tonight should be hatching time. Although it could be quite hard to tell as the eggs are tucked away behind the side panel of the platform, barely in sight! Were the eggs in clearer view it might be possible to see some pipping – a tiny hole where the shell is first broken by the chick inside – or perhaps get a clearer indication from the brooding parent that they can hear the chicks in side the egg but so often all we can see is the bird’s back.
Is it my imagination or have the brooding birds been a little more restless the last 48 hours or so? Moving brooding position more frequently? Sitting a little more upright, looking more certain? Any of these, if correct, could be a good sign of something imminent happening. But it could also be my wishful thinking….
Whatever the case, I take my hat off to the birds as we come to the end of incubation. What a feat of dedication, commitment and endurance the incubation period is. They sit there day and night, in hot and cold, through wind and weather resolute, unerring. The slate grey, white and black head markings of the Peregrine are well suited to a look of grim determination, as they hunker down against the breeze for hours end, day after day. It’s truly impressive. Perhaps more so considering there’s little feedback from the eggs until perhaps near the end. It’s a long time to keep the faith. Let alone without so much as a calendar or a timepiece or any certainty of a successful outcome. If/when chicks arrive there’ll be plenty to keep the adults busy but at least then there will be feedback, something a little more tangible. Until then, there’s just waiting.
And they will wait a little longer if necessary. Whilst we get impatient the birds show no sign of wavering. The birds has stuck to their task diligently throughout April. It’s worth noting that Wakefield had their first chick hatch this morning after 35 days, 3 days longer than typical for the site. So Sheffield Peregrines and their followers may have a few days yet. Now more than any other time, keep watching!