Peregrines lay first egg of the year in Chichester

The male peregrine in the skies above Chichester last year
The male peregrine in the skies above Chichester last year

DELIGHT has greeted the laying of the first peregrine egg of the year at Chichester Cathedral today (April 9).

The new female peregrine laid the egg this morning and people are waiting with baited breath to see how many are to follow.

“Female peregrines usually lay an egg a day and they don’t lay more than four, so at the end of this week we will know how many eggs we are likely to end up with,” said RSPB project officer Lauren Terry. “We are three weeks later than last year, probably because it is a new pair.”

She said she was ‘delighted’ the first egg had appeared, adding: “We are looking forward to watching the new peregrine pair raise their young and showing visitors to the cathedral the male and female hatching and nurturing their chicks.”

From Saturday (April 12), visitors to the cathedral can follow the unfolding drama of the peregrine family on a special viewing area in the Cloisters Café.

The Date with Nature project runs through to July 6 and will see live footage beamed from the nests to a screen in the cathedral’s cloisters below.

The incubation period for peregrine eggs is 28-33 days, so the chicks will hopefully arrive around the beginning of May, Lauren added.

The peregrine parents and the eggs are installed on the cathedral tower in a nest box supplied by the Sussex Ornithological Society.

An RSPB spokeswoman added: “It has been all change at the cathedral because the long-lived female who delighted observers over 13 breeding seasons by producing a record 45 chicks did not return to the nest this spring.

“The new female, who was identified by wildlife photographers and keen peregrine watchers David and Janet Shaw, who work closely with the RSPB, has had three males vying for her attention.

“Over the past few weeks the males have been seen in the skies above Chichester fighting over the female, who made her choice and was recently seen exhibiting nesting behaviour in the roof top nest box.”

View live footage of the peregrines here.