Friday, December 22, 2017

Mystery Flycatcher

Yesterday, while walking along the boat canal at our condo complex, I spotted a flycatcher at the top of a small tree.  It lacked eye-rings, had white wing bars, had a white chest with dusky sides and had a faint yellow wash on its abdomen.  My initial impression was that the bird was a willow flycatcher which, by December, should be in Central or South America; in fact, this flycatcher is not even a regular migrant in South Florida, tending to move southward through Mexico.

Indeed, the only flycatchers that winter on Longboat Key are eastern phoebes, great crested flycatchers, western kingbirds and scissor-tailed flycatchers.  My report to eBird was thus appropriately questioned and I promised to search for the bird again and, if possible, obtain a photo of the mystery flycatcher.  Alas, today's efforts were in vain though I did observe the bird from a distance; I will continue my quest over the next week.

Such are the joys, challenges and frustrations of birding.  Expected species are often not found while rare visitors turn up out of the blue.  The ranges in the field guides can be misleading and migrant birds may be found far from their usual routes.  "Hunting" for these wayward travelers fuels the enthusiasm of veteran birders.