Photo by: Glenn Bishton

Pied Flycatcher

Glenn Bishton

If any of The Wrekin’s wild residents could lay claim to the title ‘Icon of the Forest’ then, in our opinion, it would have to be the Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca). Along with the Redstart and Wood Warbler, it belongs to a charismatic trio of summer migrants that are typical of the upland western oak woods of the English and Welsh Marches. Like theirs, its presence is an increasingly scarce one but not so vanishingly rare you couldn’t reasonably expect to see or hear it. The song of the Pied Flycatcher is a high-pitched melodious warble sometimes said to resemble the phrase ‘tree, tree I come to thee’, a self-imposed arboreal summons that is made real each April, when the distinctive black-and-white male of this Robin-sized species checks-in from sub-Saharan Africa. Such early passage is made in order to secure the best spots from which to ‘woo’ the later arriving females, which have more uniformly brown plumage. It’s these hectic displays of machismo, generally performed from branches low in the canopy, that often provide the best views before the trees are in leaf. However, even when the foliage becomes denser the typical flycatching tendencies of these characterful birds, which hunt on the wing from a prominent perch, still make their presence fairly conspicuous.

Quick ID: Robin-sized sub-Saharan migrant on our shores from April to September. Male has pied black and white plumage, while females and juveniles are brown (although all have a distinctive white wing patch).

Whereabouts: open, mature woodland adjacent to the main track up The Wrekin between the Forest Glen and Halfway House

Elsewhere: Wrekin woodland birds

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