When the woodpeckers at The Lodge reserve fledged earlier than usual this year, we had a great opportunity to show visitors our nesting spotted flycatchers instead. The birds sometimes incubated their eggs for long periods, with the second bird dutifully bringing tasty insects to its partner on the eggs. Ranging from flies to bees and wasps to moths, we watched as the birds performed their characteristic circular flight to catch their food.
Last week the spotted flycatcher chicks hatched and the parents became much busier feeding themselves, each other and the chicks, showing that there was more than enough food for them all. Yesterday we ringed the tiny chicks in the hope that in future years we can find out where they go, and if any of them return to The Lodge.
There were four chicks and one unhatched egg when we looked in the nestbox. For one of the little chicks it was a good job we checked them, as the ringer had to remove some garden twine that was stuck around its leg. As they have not left the nest yet, this must have been one of the parents thinking it was good nesting material!
We will be watching the flycatchers and providing visitors with information about them for one more weekend and then it is likely that next week the chicks will fledge. They will then build up the fat reserves to prepare them for their incredible migration to Sub-Saharan Africa.