Devon Birds/RSPB/BTO Spotted flycatcher tracking project

Devon Birds/RSPB/BTO Spotted flycatcher tracking project

We need your help in locating Spotted flycatcher nests in Devon to contribute to our ongoing project (as written about last year in Devon Birds).

Spotted flycatchers have seen declines of 83% since the 1960s. Reasons for this decline may include factors operating within UK breeding grounds, such as reduced availability of invertebrates, but the species may also be declining due to problems along their migratory journey to Africa and back. But we know little about where their wintering grounds are or the route they take to get there. We need this information to understand what part of the annual cycle causes problems for spotted flycatchers, and where we might need to direct future work to reverse declines. To do this we are continuing the work we started in 2016, tracking migrations and determining wintering areas using tiny tracking devises called geolocators. After a successful trial in 2016-17 when we retrieved eight  of these tags, suggesting they go to Angola, we tagged more in 2018 and will be tagging a final small number of adults this year.  These geolocators weigh only 0.36g - incredible!

To be able to do this we need to catch and tag spotted flycatchers in places where they are known to return each year, as we need to recapture tagged birds the year after to retrieve the tag and its data. The best places to do this are gardens. Do you have Spotted flycatchers nesting at the moment in your garden or farm? And have you had them nesting the past few years? If so, and you are happy to have your spotted flycatchers captured and tagged for this project, please could you email or

Thanks, Malcolm Burgess

Posted May 29th, 2019 at 6:53 pm by Malcolm Burgess in Bird News