Spotted Flycatchers breed in an area extending from northwest Africa, throughout most of Europe north to Fenno-Scandia and eastward to beyond Lake Baikal and the western highlands of central Asia and also through Turkey to Iran. The entire Eurasian population migrates in winter to Africa south of the Sahara.
    In Great Britain they are found everywhere except in the Outer Hebrides and Northern Isles of Scotland and in major urban areas. But while their distribution remains relatively constant, their actual numbers have been going down remorselessly, declining by 88% between 1970 and Bird Atlas 2007-2011. The causes of this decline are not clear but are suspected to be conditions on migration or in their wintering areas and habitat deterioration in their woodland breeding areas.
    In Wiltshire Spotted Flycatchers were regarded as very common in the 19th century and most of the 20th. The 1968-72 Breeding Atlas recorded them breeding in all of the county's 33 core and 15 part 10km squares; the 1988-91 Breeding Atlas also recorded them present in all 48 squares, though with no evidence of breeding in four of the squares. Birds of Wiltshire recorded them in all all of the county's 10km squares and, within them, in 432 tetrads, with breeding confirmed or probable in 227. WTA2 still recorded their presence in all 10km squares, but the thinning out of numbers observed nationally was clearly apparent in Wiltshire, as reflected in the fact that they were only seen in 288 tetrads with breeding in fewer than half of them.


The following references are used throughout these species accounts, in the abbreviated form given in quotation marks:
1968-72 Breeding Atlas” – Sharrack, J.T.R. 1976:  The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1981-84 Winter Atlas” – Lack, P.C. 1986:  The Atlas of Wintering Birds in Britain and Ireland. T. & A. Poyser
1988-91 Breeding Atlas” – Gibbons, D.W., Reid, J.B. & Chapman, R.A. 1993: The New Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland 1988-91. T. & A. Poyser
Birds of Wiltshire” – Ferguson-Lees, I.J. et al. 2007 : Birds of Wiltshire, published by the tetrad atlas group of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society after mapping fieldwork 1995-2000. Wiltshire Ornithological Society.
Bird Atlas 2007-2011” – Balmer, D.E., Gillings, S., Caffrey, B.J., Swann, R.L., Downie, I.S. and Fuller, R.J. 2013: Bird Atlas 2007-2011: the Breeding and Wintering Birds of Britain and Ireland
WTA2” – ("Wiltshire Tetrad Atlas 2 ") the present electronic publication, bringing together the Wiltshire data from “Birds of Wiltshire” and “Bird Atlas 2007-11”, together with data from further fieldwork carried out in 2011 and 2012.
"Hobby" - the annual bird report of the Wiltshire Ornithological Society.