The small and secretive Spotted Flycatcher is as charming as it is enigmatic. A bird that many people are perhaps not familiar with, at one point the Spotted Flycatcher could be found nesting in the eaves of houses across Wiltshire.

Sadly the population has crashed since the 1970s with nine out of every ten Spotted Flycatchers vanishing. This decline puts the species firmly and sadly on the UK red list.

Found in woodlands, parks and gardens it is one of the last migrants to arrive for summer; typically reaching the UK in later April and May.

The pair will build a cup shaped nest in a sheltered place and raise two broods of four or five chicks. Breeding is a perilous task for a pair with around 1 in three nests being predated.

Photo of spotted flycatchers nestingPhoto credit: Amy Lewis

Once breeding has been completed, successful or otherwise, first birds will leave the UK from mid-August.

The journey to the wintering ground in sub-Saharan Africa are long and dangerous. Birds must run the gauntlet of the Sahara desert and cross the Mediterranean sea. A remarkable journey for such a small bird.

Research suggests that the declines seen in this species reflect changes in habitat across the country as well as changes in the survival rates of young birds.

Tricky to see, Spotted Flycatchers are most often observed on a high perch dashing out to grab an insect from the air and then returning to the perch to eat.

If you do see one of these charming and increasingly rare birds or have a pair nesting make sure to record it to help safeguard their future in the county.