Mock Test 6.3 | General Reading


You should spend about 20 minutes on Questions 28-40, which are based on Reading Passage 3 below.


The Spotted Flycatcher


A.  Despite its rather dull plumage and less than impressive vocal repertoire, the Spotted Flycatcher has always attracted a great deal of public attention in Britain. [Crack IELTS with Rob] However, the bird is resident here for only a small part of the year. Although one of the last summer visitors to arrive, it begins to move south in late July, heading through western France and Iberia from August to October, and reaching North Africa in September. Recoveries of birds that have been ringed suggest that many winter in coastal West Africa, but others continue south to cross the Equator. Just how far south the birds winter is unclear; one juvenile ringed in Wales during August (which could have been on passage from a breeding area outside Britain) was recovered in South Africa the following March.


B.  In the eighteenth century, Gilbert White, one of the first English naturalists to make careful observations of his surroundings and record these in a systematic way, commented that the annual return of ‘his’ Spotted Flycatchers occurred almost exactly to the day. An examination of his journals confirms this consistency in arrival dates, with a concentration of sightings around 20 May each year. [Crack IELTS with Rob] Records logged through a British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)-led project show that the pattern of arrival still delivers the bulk of Spotted Flycatchers to Britain in the second half of May, though average arrival dates may now be slightly earlier than they were during White’s time.


C.   Most Spotted Flycatcher nests are built against a vertical surface, such as a wall, but some may be positioned on a beam, and very occasionally, the species will make use of a hole. Although both sexes get involved in building the nest, it is the female who does most of the work. The nest itself is a fairly delicate structure, slightly built and containing moss, wool, hair and cobwebs. [Crack IELTS with Rob] The female will deposit four or five eggs or, rarely, six, into this before she initiates incubation – a job that she undertakes almost entirely on her own. Bouts of incubation are broken by short periods of seven to ten minutes, when the female may leave the nest to feed. While she is away the male will appear, typically as if from nowhere, to watch the nest, very occasionally even setting on the eggs.


D.   Once the eggs hatch, the female will continue to brood them until they are seven to ten days old; the young are blind and naked through to day five. Both sexes will then provide food for the growing chicks, sometimes bringing them through to successful fledging, and avoiding the unwelcome attentions of nest predators like cats. [Crack IELTS with Rob] Newly fledged young are fairly conspicuous; noisily, they continue to beg for food from their parents for at least another 10-12 days. The pair may then initiate another breeding attempt, sometimes in the same nest. There are records of young from the first brood, a behaviour that also occurs in a number of other bird species.


E.  Over the main period of egg production females take more calcium-rich prey (like small snails and woodlice). If a second batch of eggs is laid, the number of eggs is reduced to three or four, probably reflecting a reduction in the availability of insect prey later in the season. Research has shown that on cold days (or in the cool of early morning) the Spotted Flycatcher switches from taking larger, aerial insect prey to gleaning smaller prey from amongst foliage. [Crack IELTS with Rob] These smaller prey are likely to be less nutritious, and a run of cooler days late in the breeding season may reduce the chances of the birds successfully rearing a second brood.


F.  The  Spotted Flycatcher lacks the more brightly marked plumage of many other birds, and the lack of easily recognizable features means it can be mistaken for another, equally drab species, such as the Dunnock, or even the female House Sparrow. Fortunately, the Spotted Flycatcher can also be identified from its behavior. [Crack IELTS with Rob] Spotted Flycatchers are selfom seen on the ground, but usually feed from a perch, making sallies after aerial insects. The flycatcher often adopts an upright posture when perching, making the bird appear rather sleek. Additionally, it is rare to see several Spotted Flycatchers together unless they happen to be a family of two adults feeding newly-fledged young (the latter looking very different from their parents because of their strongly patterned plumage). One other feature is the audible snapping sound that the bill sometimes makes when the bird snatches an insect from the air.


G.  Data from the BTO show an 86 percent downturn in the breeding population of Spotted Flycatchers over the period 1967-2006, a pattern seemingly repeated elsewhere in Europe, where numbers are estimated to have fallen by 59 percent since 1980. However, ongoing and planned work should help to reveal the underlying causes of this trend. In particular, the BTO has a project to analyse nest data already collected. [Crack IELTS with Rob] Work will need to be carried out elsewhere as well, looking at the Spotted Flycatcher in its wintering grounds. Understanding the factors that drive Spotted Flycatcher numbers should stimulate conservation action and help to secure the future of this bird.


Questions 28 - 34

Reading Passage 3 has seven paragraphs, A-G.

Choose the correct heading, i-ix, from the list of headings below.

Write the correct number, i-ix, on your answer sheet 28-34.


List of headings

i         a breeding partnership

ii        danger from predators

iii       geographic range

iv       seasonal changes in diet

v        the regularity of first sightings

vi       a lack of accurate data

vii      reversing the decline

viii     rearing the young

ix       physical features


  • 28.  Paragraph A

  • 29.  Paragraph B

  • 30.  Paragraph C

  • 31.  Paragraph D

  • 32.  Paragraph E

  • 33.  Paragraph F

  • 34.  Paragraph G


Questions 35 - 38

Complete the summary below.

Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from Passage 3 for each answer.


                                         Identifying the Spotted Flycatcher


  • The Spotted Flycatcher can be hard to identify, as its singing is unremarkable, and its feathers are quite (35) . It can best be distinguished by its behavior.

  • The Spotted Flycatcher usually waits for its prey on a (36)

  • It is normally seen alone, or as part of a (37)

  • Finally, when it catches prey it often produces a (38) .


Questions 39 - 40

Choose the correct letter, A-D.

Write the correct letter, A-D, in your answer sheet.

39. What does the writer say about the seasonal movements of Spotted Flycatchers?

  • They can be found in Britain throughout most of the year.
  • Their time of arrival in Britain has changed considerably since the eighteenth century.
  • Ringing them has only provided evidence of their routes within Europe.
  • Some of them migrate between the northern and southern hemispheres.


40. The nest of Spotted Flycatchers

  • have to be sturdily built.
  • may be used for more than one brood.
  • are normally constructed by the male.
  • must hold up to ten eggs at a time.




Please click the red words below for other Sections of this Mock Test:

Mock Test 6 | Listening Test
Mock Test 6 | General Reading Passage 1
Mock Test 6 | General Reading Passage 2


Result: / Exit

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