22 May 2023

Pied Flycatchers in N Wales

Alan H invited me recently to help check the nest boxes at his study site in N wales. As part of the Pied Flycatcher network (see here for information) nest boxes have been put up by volunteers to try and encourage more pairs of Pied Flycatchers to breed. This year seems to be a good year. Normally the Pied Flycatchers arrive back from Africa and find all the suitable nest boxes have been taken over by Blue or Great Tits. This year the tits appear to be nesting late. Other ringers have reported similar late dates and it seems the very wet early May Bank Holiday caused many to desert as we found several boxes that had partially built nests when checked a few weeks ago now empty.

Because of this the Pied Flys have arrived back to find suitable boxes empty and available! We found 5 nests with eggs and two further territories with singing males and possibly a partially built nest. The  boxes that were occupied, by tits, were either still at the egg stage or had young to small to ring. We managed to ring a single brood of Great Tits.

Pied Flycatcher nests are easy to recognise as they contain a lot more large leaves than tit nests. When they contain the beautiful sky -blue eggs they're even easier to identify. We also caught and ringed two females - both of which had very obvious brood patches. Hopefully this will contribute to our understanding of adult survival rates and site fidelity in future years.

We also had good views of singing males and these provided some good photo opportunities. 

Al picked up a damselfly flitting through a sun lit glade quite away from the nearest river and it turned out to be a Beautiful Demoiselle - a stunning looking jewel of an insect.

With the woodland full of Pied Flycatcher song, Bullfinches, Song & Mistle Thrushes and a distantly singing Redstart it was a great few hours. We'll back soon to check on progress.

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