Day-dreaming about Flycatchers

Every year, on the 18th of May, a tiny pair of spotted flycatchers fly all the way from North Africa to my garden in Corfe Mullen, Dorset. Looking out onto my frozen garden today, I wonder why they come!

Spotted Flycatcher

Photograph courtesy of Wikipedia 

They are very prompt little birds, always appearing around the 18th (give or take a couple of days). We are so lucky that they still come as recent dramatic declines in population have put spotted flycatchers high on the RSPB Red List.For as long as anyone can remember there has been a nest box on the side of our house. In the early summer the adults flit backwards and forwards to the box feeding their hungry family.

This year the rain came in June with disasterous consequences. No flys. Although the young hatched there just wasn’t enough food for them, and soon the nest was very quiet and the adults disappeared to the nearby woods. However, the year before we had some lovely warm weather in June/July and their brood of five chicks flourished.

The following shows some film of this brood while they were still in the nest box, with the adults frantically flying backwards and forwards with flys.

If you look really closely you can also see the adults collecting the faecal sac (a small white sac of poo) from the nest. They are very clean little birds! As far as I know all five chicks fledged from the nest, in fact a couple of days after this footage was taken (in mid July) the whole family had disappeared from the garden. Amazingly by August the chicks have to be strong enough to make the arduous trip back to North Africa.

Hopefully they will be back again this coming year… when the camelias are flowering and the garden is alive again. I for one will be sat by my bedroom window waiting to greet them home!

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13 thoughts on “Day-dreaming about Flycatchers

  1. I really hope so. There are so few of them left that I hope we can keep our Corfe Mullen population going for a long time to come (decendants from this family have been coming for at least 30 years, if not more)

  2. Hi there, Jane 🙂

    What a lovely piece of film 😀

    I have never seen the spotted fly catchers before – thank-you for sharing your video. You are right this piece of film is much clearer – I do think some colours are a problem when uploaded. The greens aren’t always good. Hopefully between us we will discover something to improve the quality of our video uploads!

    Our Blue Tit brood also failed this year and the parents even resorted to feeding sunflower hearts and fatcake to their young when they too couldn’t get enough insects. We also saw the adults collecting the faecal sac but it was directly from the young birds! Ah the joys of a camera in a Nestbox 😀

    BTW still have probs with security renewal and am trying to catch up with my comments. Thanks for the ‘for’ one on the squirrel – I will reply to that tomorrow 🙂

  3. Wonderful to be able to support such a rare species. This is a bird I’ve never seen. My husband grew up in Devon (a long time ago!) and he’s never managed to see one either.
    Thanks for the visit and the kind comment. I’ve not been able to read all your blog yet, but I’ll be back as soon as time allows.

  4. Shirl. Thanks for your comments. They are lovely little birds. Interesting to hear that your bluetit brood failed as well. All that work for nothing – doesn’t seem fair! I’m just about to put the camera outside to film the blackbirds eating apples on my drive. Hope to have some more footage later. This can get addictive!

  5. Welcome Dragonstar. Yes, they are so rare now, I’m really lucky to have them in the garden – if only for a couple of months a year. I hope to get some better footage of the adults catching flys this year for their young.

  6. Thanks Sara. I’m so glad I posted this. It’s great letting people see something that they haven’t had the chance to see before, plus they are such beautiful little birds.

  7. Thirty years…that’s fantastic!
    You’re right, they are declining fast. I really hope you can continue to hang onto them.
    Ours didn’t succeed this year.
    Our swallows were very thin on the ground this year too – whereas the skies are alive with them over the summer months we only had three to four pairs and all juveniles not that experienced at rearing broods. They did manage eventually, though their last brood was by the skin of their beaks, so to speak, and I’m not sure they would have been well enough equipped for the migration flight.

  8. Paula. Yes, I know, 30 years is a long time (and it might be more). I really hope they come back next year… especially after failing this year. Really bad news about your swallows. We had a lot around this year, but not sure how they got on with their young. It’s too wooded here for them, but my sister gets them down the road (out on the open fields). I love watching them collecting mud for their nests from muddy puddles and next to the water troughs. Lets hope for a sunnier summer next year, and we will all be happy!

  9. Pingback: Spotted Flycatchers - Wildlife and Environment Forums

  10. Pingback: Spotted Flycatcher Chicks - Wildlife and Environment Forums

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