New peregrine falcon egg laid at Norwich Cathedral
A new peregrine falcon egg has been laid on top of Norwich Cathedral, sparking hopes it will hatch one of the first Norfolk chicks in 200 years.
It was laid on Thursday morning on a platform set up on the spire by the Hawk and Owl Trust.
An egg was laid there on Easter Sunday last year but it hatched an underdeveloped dead chick.
However, conservationists believe the new egg has been produced by a different female.
"It's incredibly exciting, firstly because peregrine numbers are recovering after years of decline," said Leanne Thomas, from the Hawk and Owl Trust, based at Sculthorpe, near Fakenham.
"It's also exciting to have them in the city and to give people the chance to go out and see them."
The Hawk and Owl Trust said the new falcon was too old to be the juvenile female that laid an egg last year.
It is thought that a third peregrine that has been seen trying to visit the platform over the past couple of days could be last year's juvenile that has now moulted into adult plumage.Permanent home
The charity said peregrine falcons could lay up to four eggs.
It is likely this egg will hatch around the end of April or early May.
A charity spokeswoman said the egg would have an improved chance of hatching successfully this year because the new female was more mature.
There have been reports of peregrine falcons on the cathedral spire since 2009.
A male and female made the city landmark their permanent home after the platform for them to rest on was built on the spire last year.
But a younger female arrived soon after, ousting the older bird, and it paired up with the male.
Activity on the ledge is being followed 24-hours a day by two cameras, one of which is broadcast on the internet.
Peregrine falcon numbers rapidly declined during the 19th and 20th Centuries due to illegal shooting and use of certain pesticides on farms.
The first permanent recording of a breeding pair in Norfolk for hundreds of years happened in 2010 at a granary site in North Lynn.