October 11, 2011
Although the Willow/Alder Flycatcher can't be safely identified in the field without vocalization, I have decided to keep notes on it when I am lucky enough to see it.
I got two views of a few seconds each. I was watching a group of a about a dozen Tennesee Warblers feasting on White-flies under the leaves of a crecopia when I noticed a movement near the ground through the corner of my eye. I slowly lowered my bins to look and there was the Flycatcher with a huge, mangled bug in its mouth. I think we both saw each other at the same time and the element of surprise made him take off. I think he may have even dropped his dinner. I felt pretty bad about that, but it wasn't as if I had seen him eating and kept encroaching. He didn't fly far, only a few feet and I saw him again through a tiny frame in the undergrowth. He saw me watching took off again. Rain kept me from an attempt to see him again that evening.
October 12, 2011
It rained all day today, but a break at the end of the day allowed me to get out for about an hour and a half before it got too dark. For the first 45 minutes he was nowhere to be seen. I was afraid he was gone for good; had migrated south.
I should explain the site. It appears to be an old parking area next to where the hardstand for boats is now. The circumference is the jungle slowly taking over. One area is mainly big grasses and it flows into a treed area. I really don't bird here much. I meant to walk the old Battery Trail and found it overgrown, so I wandered down to the edge of the hardstand. I didn't go on San Lorenzo road or Kennedy because rain was threatening and I wanted to stay close. Once I started walking around, I was amazed at all the action. It is so close to people and noise and yet I saw more going on here than I had the last walk on San Lorenzo! Gene has a theory about parking lots and I am beginning to think he is on to something. He is always telling me I bird the hard way and I shouldn't be out walking goat trails or marshes or barren, rocky hillsides getting scraped up, bug bitten, sun burned and par-boiled. He thinks that the best birding can be done in the parking lot of any birding destination. We have seen a lot of good birds that way, I will admit. Once, when were in Australia, we met some British birders on the Birthday Creek Falls trail. They were there to find a particular finch that was quite rare. After we walked the creek area, Gene and I drove to another area close by that I wanted to check out. We stopped the car at the end of a dirt road, and I got out to bird. Gene put down the tailgate, got out a camp chair, took a beer from the cooler and told me to have a good time. I came back a bit later and he told me that if I had stayed and birded with him, I would have had the finch. He watched it feed and fly around while he had his beer. But I digress..back to the Empid.I saw low movement on the hardstand side and scanned. There he was! He flew onto the stalk of the big grasses in the area. I watched him flying from stalk to stalk, and then flew high into a tree. No sound.