Sunday, February 14, 2016

Valentines Day Flycatcher

This morning was attempt number two to find the presumptive Hammond's Flycatcher at Dickenson's River Bottom near Lake Granger. This bird is normally restricted to pacific and mountain states with migratory paths crossing into far west Texas. There have only been a few sightings east of Midland. This individual was first recorded on Feb 5 by Colton Robbins. Since then, it has been a draw for local birders.

We first tried yesterday morning, arriving at 8:30 which was apparently not early enough. Not a wasted trip though as we saw several dozen species at what is a new location for us. This morning we got there at 7:15. Danielle had an initial spotting of the flycatcher at 7:30 but not long enough for us to get a positive identification but enough to be fairly certain it was not the Ruby-Crown Kinglet which has a similar face as shown below.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
With the help of Bryce and Rob Hardway we relocated the bird got a more extended view at about 8:00 as it flitted from branch to branch for the next quarter hour. After that, we lost it altogether. This species is a first for us.

This bird is a small member of the Empidonax genus, all of which look very similar. Sibley's lists the primary field marks as short narrow dark bill, distinct olive vest, long primary wing projection, and short narrow notched tail. To be honest, I am taking the word of the more experienced birders as I would not be able to make a definitive call.

Hammond's Flycatcher
The day's birding at the location also netting me a very brief view of a Pileated Woodpecker flying between trees across the river. This is another rarity here.

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