Spotted Flycacher. Pete Woodruff.
Well the Spotted Flycatcher (SF) pic has almost certainly had a slot on Birds2blog before, if it has I'm in no way worried about that as it is here again for four good reasons....1) It ranks as probably the best 'bird' pic I ever took to date, not only that but it is, 2) One of my most favourite summer visitors, 3) Its numbers are decreasing and, 4) I was both delighted and interested that I found and observed eight birds together on Thursday of this week during a visit to Marshaw in the Forest of Bowland.
In the past two years at least I have found the area - between the cattle grid beyond Marshaw Farm and Trough Bridge - excellent for SF's and void of quoting accurate figures from my records for the sake of this post I'd claim the possibility of seven pairs present during last year and probably that number again this year.
The SF is amongst the latest arrival of summer visitors to the UK and the first to leave in autumn, though one I observed in the plantation behind Tower Lodge on 18 September 2009 seems to contradict that claim, however, very few are seen/recorded in the month of October.
In Britain there has been a collapse of the SF with a decrease something in the order of 90% and with the breeding situation in Lancashire over the past ten years having deteriorated dramatically. Problems are thought to lie in the birds wintering grounds or passage areas, with some suggestions that post-breeding food shortages on breeding grounds may also be involved. It seems clear that the once common SF in Lancashire is now in a perilous state as a breeding species in the county which brings me to the opinion that the area I'm talking about with regards to my observations in Bowland is one of - if not the best - in the LDBWS recording area and beyond. An interesting ringing note....there has only ever been one recovery of SF from Lancashire, that of a juvenile ringed at Hightown in August 1976 and was found dead almost three years later in June 1979 in Belfast, N. Ireland.
The photograph above was taken a couple of years ago in the very area I talk about here. The SF is very tolerant of human presence and I was able to observe and photograph this bird 'flycatching' with skill and perfection. Last year a pair nested in a climbing plant on the wall of Tower Lodge, if you look at the same wall this year you'll find the plant has been removed from the lodge albeit unwittingly to the loss of the birds but a clear example of how we can contributed to or hinder the progress of our birds.