Siberian Pied Flycatcher

Remarkable Migration

A Pied Flycatcher ringed as a nestling here:

was controlled (caught in a mist net already bearing its Tomsk ring) at Filey Brigg, North Yorkshire on 16th September 1996. Ringed in Tomsk there is only one subspecies it could be really : sibirica. (just added to the British List see here:

One of the reasons Barry Spence was so keen to try and catch this bird last month was the possibility of far flung foreign recoveries.

First winter male Pied Flycatcher. Wire Dump. Spurn, 27th August 2010. It was hoped that this ringed bird might bear a foreign recovery leg iron – about the only current chance of finding more examples of ‘sibirica’ which may pass through Britain more often than is realised. All Siberian Pied Flycatchers have left Tomsk – heading west- within the first 3 days of September (BWP).

Recent conversations with Magnus Robb (who lives in Portugal where its likely that Siberian Pied Flycatcher pass through, each autumn) and a read-up of BWP shows Pied Flycatcher to be a remarkable vagrant with an unusual route strategy.

“Autumn recoveries (very numerous) in Iberia include birds from Britain and throughout Europe east to USSR (to 59°18′E in southern Urals); such a marked westerly component in first stage of migration for birds from east of range is exceptional among passerines” BWP. Cramp,  OUP,  Oxford

Many Pied Flycatchers especially of northern and eastern distribution have a peculiar dog-leg shaped migration strategy – first heading west with many going as far as the major staging area in (mainly north-west) Iberia and then, once fattened up, heading south to winter in West Africa (all races). It is assumed that many Siberian Pied Flycatchers migrate to Africa via Western Europe. It could even be argued that Siberian Pied Flycatcher is annual as far north as Britain in small numbers each year, but barring this ringing recovery – they go undetected.

I have been wondering if sibirica Pied Flycatcher has been an undetected part of the Spurn experience over the last week or two!

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