Monday, 16 May 2011

Solitaire's Not The Only Bird In Town

This morning's amble around the grounds of Victoria's Government House was pretty interesting. One of the first birds I saw was a Townsend's solitaire, as it flew across the path into the area of garry oaks on the south side of the grounds. It was quite active for a while flycatching from an oak. As I watched it, my eye was caught by another bird close by. It was an olive-sided flycatcher. Hmm - things were looking pretty promising!
The duration of my visit however, was pretty uneventful and other than around 5 Wilson's warblers and a Lincoln's sparrow the birding was quiet.
Until I heard a strange call (mind you, maany call's are pretty strange to me over here...).
Looking up, I eventually located a flycatcher. It was a pretty drab thing - brownish overall, with concolourous greyish throat and underparts, discernible but pale wing-bars, long notched tail, largish bicloured bill, weak eye-ring - stronger at the front and back of the eye. A bit of a crest, but not much of one. Western wood pewee was my first thought.
Its call (song?) was particularly striking, a resonant 'liquid' call I wrote down as; disyllabic 'schpil-ip' followed by a monosyllabic 'schlip'. Listening to recordings once I got home, I have to say I'm none the wiser!  Troubled by this, I returned with my recorder and 'scope in an effort to relocate the bird. Unfortunately, I couldn't find it. I'm sure it was probably something really obvious. If anyone can decipher my garbled description, I'd be happy to hear your thoughts!

* Empid Update
Chris Saunders contacted me to suggest I listen to the song of Hammond's flycatcher. I did, and - problem solved! I think I discounted this species on my incorrect assessment of the bird having a largish bill and long tail, two things that Hammond's shouldn't have. I've only previously heard Hammond's call - a high, sharp note - and I didn't recognise this sound as a song, which it was. These empids are great for taxing the brain!
Thanks to Chris for the tip-off.

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