Country diary: spotted flycatchers take over my robin box

Country diary: spotted flycatchers take over my robin box

Marshwood Vale, Dorset: These late migrants generally appear long after swallows and swifts, and like to reuse nests made by other species

A bird twirls in midair and snatches an insect. Pale brown wing feathers fan against the light, tail spread to brake its onwards rush as its beak deftly tweezers a drifting midge. Then it flips downwards, diving into a nest hidden on the wall behind a cascade of pink roses.

Nothing has ever nested in our robin box, until now. I have put it in various places; on a hawthorn bush, by the woodpile and in an outbuilding, but robins seem to prefer their own choices. Last winter, out of whimsy, I hung it near the front door where a rose rambles.

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