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Pied flycatchers

A rare summer visitor to the Quantock Hills temperate rainforests.

A volunteer checking a nestbox for pied flycatchers

Pied flycatchers migrate from central Africa to the woodlands of the Quantock Hills in summer. These small birds are quick, skilled, aerial hunters, feeding on flying insects. They also pluck caterpillars and other invertebrates from leaves and twigs. The males are black with bright white bellies, throats and wing patches. The females have a similar pattern but are a much duller brown.

Pied flycatchers have been monitored on the Quantock Hills for over 40 years. Numbers nationally have declined signficantly. However, the population on the Quantock Hills has remained stable.

Monitoring involves weekly visits to over 90 nest boxes. At the right time of the season, birds will have a small ring put on their leg, allowing researchers to chart whether they return to the Quantock Hills in later years. Volunteers and staff have to be trained and licensed to monitor pied flycatchers.

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