The spotted flycatcher (Muscicapa striata) is not a particularly glamorous bird but it has a gentleness about it that makes it a favourite of mine. One of the many changes I have witnessed in my years of birding is the sad decline of this species. It was never common but frequently nested around the houses of the village we lived in the Test Valley in Hampshire back in the 1980's and 90's before we moved to Dorset but now it is uncommon everywhere. Whilst they are present in Dorset I took this photograph on a return to that Hampshire village so it is holding on there.
On Springwatch they reported that numbers of spotted flycatcher were down a staggering 81% on levels of just 20 years ago. All sorts of issues come in to play; declining numbers of insects, loss of nesting habitat, problems in their wintering quarters in Africa and persecution whilst on migration all contribute to decline of this species; I just hope it is not too late to reverse the trend.
You do not need to see a spotted flycatcher close up to identify it. If you see a bird perched near the end of a branch, then see it fly up in a loop and return to that same perch then odds on its a spottie! Although called the spotted flycatcher its front is more streaked than spotted.Spotted Flycatcher: looping the loop