Spotted Flycatchers in Northants

In decline …

It’s widely known that Spotted Flycatchers are in decline in the UK. If you’re really unlucky, it’s possible to go for an entire summer season without seeing one locally. If you’re unlucky.

Spotted Flycatcher, Polebrook AF, 22nd August 2015 (Simon Hales)

In Northants I believed the number of localities at which this species has been occurring has been falling year on year. However, I had a quick look at the records for the past 16 years (the number of localities wasn’t flagged up in the county bird report prior to this as a result of the species’ apparent abundance) and I was surprised to find this isn’t entirely so.
Apart from a ‘blip’ between 2005 and 2010 the number of sites has remained relatively stable. What’s apparent, though, is there are fewer records in recent years and the occasionally large numbers recorded in the ‘90s – e.g. 50+ at Cottesbrooke Park on 8th August 1995 and 30+ there on 10th August 1996 appear to be a thing of the past.

Juvenile Spotted Flycatcher, Polebrook AF, 22nd August 2015 (Simon Hales)

Juvenile and adult Spotted Flycatchers, Polebrook AF, 22nd August 2015 (Simon Hales)

While the decline may be national the BTO have thrown up some interesting data which show a marked shift in distribution northwards and westwards, with local population increases noted in Scotland, Ireland and some parts of Wales against a marked national decline of 89% between 1967 and 2010 and a decline by 46% across Europe between 1980 and 2013. More about the distribution changes on the BTO website. Thanks to Simon Hales for images.