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Pied Flycatcher

Seen occasionally on migration in Dorset, unlikely that they breed here

Photograph by: 
Peter Coe

Sadly, I think, the pied flycatcher is not a Dorset breeding species. All pied flycatchers seen here are just passing through on their way further north, probably in to the mature woodlands of western England, Wales and Scotland. They are not uncommon in these westerly and northern regions and so a fair number naturally pass this way both on their way to breed in spring and then on their way back south to Africa for our winter.

Inward migration is compressed in to a six week period that appears to start in week 14 in mid April and continues until week 19 in May. Outward migration is spread over a much longer period from week 29 towards the end of July with birds then being seen regularly but in small numbers until week 41 at the beginning of October. August would seem to be the month when the largest numbers go their long journey south.

Thirty sites in Dorset have reported pied flycatcher and the distribution map shows a definite leaning towards coastal sites, especially Portland. This is quite typical of such migrating species, it is their first landfall after crossing the Channel where they drop down briefly to feed and then in autumn they take in food here prior to flying back out to sea and on to France and Spain before crossing into Africa.

Adding pied flycatcher to your Dorset list is probably going to be down to a bit of luck at being in the right place at the right time.



Common Name Pied Flycatcher
Scientific Name Ficedula hypoleuca
Species Group Birds Flycatchers and Larks
Status Scarce
Interest Level
  • 04 - April
  • 05 - May
  • 08 - August
  • 09 - September
  • 10 - October
Look for

The distinctive pied markings of the male

Identification Notes
  • Does not breed in Doorset
  • Seen only on migration here but usually a good number reported
  • Usually seen at coastal locations where it stops off to feed after/before crossing the Channel 
Primary Habitat
Preferred Environment
Look for
Additional Identification Notes
Similar Species

The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Notebook Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Birds Flycatchers and Larks