Catch it while you can: the spotted flycatcher

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Such a pleasure to see each year!  Last year Alison and I watched a couple of these splendid little birds swooping down from a branch up the woods over a sand bunker on the golf course (see previous blog post:  The first picture last year was one sitting on a telegraph wire at one of our regular birding places.

These pictures were captured last week at the same place as last year, but this time a lot nearer and clearer: sat on a fence, on a roof and on a gravestone.

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This plain looking but beautiful spotted flycatcher arrives late May and stays until October, wintering in Africa.  It will breed in gardens, parks, forests (often in small glades), openings, tree trunks, buildings, or sometimes an open nest box.

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The dark streaky breast and longish slender bill really set the bird off for us.  Sadly, these lovely little birds (related to thrushes) are on the decline.  As you can see, the bird often sits upright, showing off its dark streaking and dark eye, with indistinct narrow, pale-ish eye ring. spotted flycatcher (4).JPG

The flycatchers are not usually feeding young before the end of June, when the insects become more plentiful for the young family members.

They usually lay 4-6 eggs between May to July, and the young often fledge after around 16 days.

The call of the flycatcher is not unlike that of the chaffinch: a sharp “tsich tsich!” with clipped high notes, often overlooked.

We’ve seen it in action taking off from a perch, flicking its wings and launching off to catch flies (hence the name).  This sighting has been another cracker for us.  It’s not often seen as close up as we’ve had the opportunity to see this year – and so exciting to find it in the same place as last year!

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