Friday, 9 September 2016

Yellow-rumped Flycatcher

The last two days here have been quite delightful, and have certainly been two that have lived up to the maxim 'all's well that ends well'. I was back in Area B on Thursday afternoon, convinced that the unidentified Ficedula that had been calling there Wednesday really had to be a Yellow-rumped Flycatcher Ficedula zanthopygia given the date (though it called as Narcissus Flycatcher Ficedula narcissina, these would not be due for another month or so). The bird was still present and calling at regular intervals Thursday, but despite hanging around for several hours in persistent rain I was only able to see a 'shape' move through the mangroves on just one occasion and nothing more. The afternoon was not a total loss, though, in fact far from it, as in a moment of frustration I began to explore other parts of Area B and rather flukily flushed a Thick-billed Warbler Iduna aedon! Unfortunately, on account of the persistent drizzle, my camera was all packed up in my backpack so I was unable to manage a photo (despite attempting to fish it out quickly the three times that the bird was in view). After it disappeared deeper into the trees, I tried once more for the flycatcher which was again unwilling to show itself. However, a second consolation was on hand towards evening when an early Yellow-browed Bunting Emberiza chrysophrys dropped into Area B, suggesting that plenty of birds were around locally and might show well once the rain (after six days continuous of the stuff) had finally stopped (i.e. on Friday). Obviously Friday I was back in Area B (before dawn) after the flycatcher which was still calling and still refusing to show. After two hours of waiting I left in disgust to try my coastal woodlot, where I found two more Siberian Blue Robins Larvivora cyane (a female and an adult male) waiting for me!

As if to show that it wasn't me being useless and that I actually was pretty good at getting onto skulky stuff, I also picked up another Gray's Grasshopper Warbler Locustella fasciolata for the autumn from my time in my woodlot. I was unable to photograph that, though, and the only other addition to my camera was a new Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis which looked rather more worn and darker on its lower mandible than had the one that had been there on Wednesday.

I returned to Area B late morning and spent a further three hours there waiting for the flycatcher to show. When it would not, I just gave up and headed for home via a quick detour through Tu Cheng. You can imagine my utter disbelief and horror when I got home and within five minutes of walking through the door received a message from Cai Zhi Yuan that an 'easy' Yellow-rumped Flycatcher was showing really well at the entrance to Area B! It was already 16:30, but on hearing the word 'easy' I felt I had no choice and shot back out to Area B as fast as my scooter would physically go! Quite wonderfully, I got the bird within two minutes of turning up and was able to rattle off a few pictures. It disappeared just two minutes after finding it, and two minutes after that the light in the mangroves pretty much went (at least for photography), and that was pretty much that! What a bizarre turn of events! The bird had moved about fifty metres from where it had been very stable over the last three days and as a result had also become very easy to see, so much so that it could be found within just two minutes. This after having spent close to ten hours on the thing!

My assumption as regards this behaviour is that the bird was preparing to leave (hence my panic to get it today rather than leave it for tomorrow). It had been so faithful to an area of dense mangroves to the north of the entrance for three days, but had chosen to move quite some distance very late in the afternoon following an afternoon of clear weather. After seeing and photographing this bird, it called from even deeper in Area B, suggesting that it had all of a sudden become very mobile as evening was drawing near. Obviously, many thanks to Cai Zhi Yuan for the information as this thing is not going to be there tomorrow! Above photos taken in Qi Gu, Tainan County 9/9/16.

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