Lydford Gorge – Delight at chick success for endangered Pied Flycatchers

Two pairs of rare Pied Flycatchers, which are on the ‘Birds of Conservation Concern’ red list, are successfully breeding at Lydford Gorge in Devon, thanks to work done by rangers at National Trust.

They are further thrilled to have discovered that one pair of the birds, who were born in different parts of Devon, have paired up and are now busy raising their young at Lydford Gorge on Dartmoor. The Devon pair of birds were ringed in 2014 and the National Trust has been able to discover that the male was born near Widecombe-in-the-Moor and the female hails from South Molton.

As Pied Flycatchers migrate thousands of miles during the winter before returning to the UK to mate in the spring, it’s not known how or when they paired up, however the Trust is very pleased to see these endangered birds doing well after careful work to attract them to the area has worked.

The baby birds will start to be seen taking their first forays outside the nest in June and are expected to stay there until late August when they fly south again to the African continent. A third male, who was recently spotted searching for a mate, has also recently found a female and it’s hoped they may nest there too. In 2017, National Trust rangers and volunteers created specialised bird boxes to encourage the birds to nest in the gorge, which is rich in mature woodland consisting of a mix of sessile oak, beech, ash and hazel, that the Pied Flycatchers prefer.

Demelza Hyde, National Trust Ranger said, “We’re really excited to see the Pied Flycatchers nesting in our boxes at the gorge and the numbers of breeding pairs increasing. We’re hoping to ring the third pair so we can track them and see if they return here next year.”

Adrian Shaw, Area Ranger at Lydford Gorge said, “We were really pleased to have at least two pairs flying around the gorge and breeding here. We saw a third male looking for a mate and thankfully a third female arrived recently too, so we’re crossing our fingers that they might nest together before the breeding season is over.”

Stuart Clarke

Author: Stuart Clarke

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