A RARE pair of RSPB red-listed pied flycatchers have been spotted by thrilled bird watchers making their home in specially made bird boxes near the bird hide at the National Trust’s Lydford Gorge.

Migrating from sub-Saharan Africa, usually in the Congo basin, the pied flycatchers move to the coast of West Africa in the spring, before returning to the UK. It’s believed the pair has adopted a nest at Lydford due to work done by National Trust rangers to manage the habitat for them.

The birds tend to like mature woodland, similar to that at Lydford Gorge. Trees at the gorge weren’t cut down during the war effort as it was too steep to get the wood out.

National Trust rangers, along with volunteers and schools including Lydford and Lamerton, have built specialised bird boxes with specific sized holes to attract the birds.

Pied flycatchers are red-listed by the RSPB. Working with Lydford Primary School pupils, rangers have been monitoring the bird boxes occupied by these and other species.

Adrian Shaw, area ranger for Lydford Gorge said: ‘It’s fantastic to see the birds have adopted the boxes we created for them. This year we’re certain a pair has bred successfully and we’re hoping to see them do well over the summer and return next spring.’

The birds have been busy feeding their young, who have recently fledged. Rangers at the trust expect the pied flycatchers to remain at Lydford Gorge until September, before they head back to the warmer climes of West Africa over the winter.

Keen-eyed visitors to Lydford Gorge may be lucky enough to spot the birds until then. If they do, the team there ask that you report where they have seen the birds at the reception desk.

This will be used to inform the best places to site bird boxes for the pied flycatchers in the future and will help gather valuable information on these nationally declining birds.