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!
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!