The Spotted Flycatchers have returned to our garden and this is the female, who is at present incubating the eggs. She is nesting in the same open fronted West facing brick cavity in a stable-block, as last year and you can see the reflection of the area in her eye. Appearing every now and again to catch a few flies, she then returns to her duties. Taken from a distance of 10.1m
The Spotted Flycatcher is about the size of a House Sparrow, with a frequent frequent but rather quiet and scratchy "tsee-tsee".
The male and females are alike: slim with grey-brown upper parts, whitish underparts with dark streaks on the crown, breast and throat, with black bill and legs. Juveniles are similar to the adults but have pale spots on the upper parts.
They feed on flying insects, such as bees and butterflies, but also berries in the autumn, and are fascinating to watch as they sit quite upright on an exposed branch, flicking the tail and watching for insects flying past, then suddenly dive and fly in a circular path back to the perch, having caught an insect with an audible snap of the beak – they are incredibly fast hunters.
They breed in open woodland, parks, and gardens that have trees and will also nest in open-fronted nest boxes. Both birds build the nest, which is a cup made of grass, thin twigs, lichen, and spiders' webs, and lined with feathers and hair.
The smooth, glossy eggs are white with reddish blotches, and about 19 mm by 14 mm. Incubation is by the female only. The young are fed by both parents. Breeding starts in May, number of clutches 1-2, number of eggs 4-5, incubation 11-15days, fledging 12-14days after hatching.
They are summer visitors, usually arriving in the latter half of May and departing at the end of August. Their wintering grounds are in tropical Africa, south of the equator. Migration often takes place at night.
The Spotted Flycatcher population has declined by more than half in the last 25 years and so this is a Red List (endangered) species. This decline may be due to problems in their wintering grounds and changes in woodland management in Britain.