INCC has been building and installing pied flycatcher nest boxes in the Amman Valley throughout a number of different woodlands. This is as part of INCC’s commitment to recognising the Amman Valley as a Landscape of Importance for Nature Conservation (LINC).
The pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) is an iconic Welsh bird no larger than a siskin (Spinus spinus), weighing between 10g-15g. They are summer migrants to our shores and make an incredible journey all the way from West Africa to breed in our mature oak woodlands.
Pied flycatchers arrive in the Amman Valley toward the end of April and begin to establish territories and find a mate. They often nest in natural holes in trees but readily take to nest boxes. Once paired the birds make their cup shaped nest of honeysuckle bark and moss and lay between 5-9 pale blue eggs. By the end of summer, the pied flycatchers will have reared their young and ready to make their return journey back to West Africa.
Despite their iconic status, the population of pied flycatcher in the UK has declined by over 50% since 1995 (Baillie et al. 2014). They are now on the Red List of the UK Birds of Conservation Concern (Eaton et al. 2015).
The decline is not yet fully understood and may be due to a number of integrated factors including habitat loss, migration and climate change. Climate change causes a mismatch in peak food abundance with chick fledging (BTO 2019). This means that pied flycatchers are often too late to make the most of high numbers of insect prey needed to raise their chicks.
With support from the Brecon Beacons National Park, local landowners and volunteers, INCC has been able to install a total of 145 nest boxes. The purpose built nest boxes were installed in five different woodlands throughout the Amman Valley in spring 2019.
Prior to the project, no biological records for pied flycatcher existed for the Amman Valley. Monitoring at two of the five woodlands within the valley in 2019 revealed a total of seven occupied nest boxes.
INCC will continue to monitor the nest boxes and pied flycatcher population over the coming years. This is because of the ongoing commitment from local landowners and volunteers from the community.
It is hoped that the project can continue to grow over time and expand to new woodlands in the valley. Monitoring and research will hopefully contribute to the national conservation knowledge for the species.