Last month, nearly every time I walked to Diablo Creek, I heard a bird with a loud, distinctive call. It would call over and over, and there were times it sounded like it was less than twenty feet away. I had multiple opportunities to see it and I tried different tactics. I froze and scanned with little more than eye movement and slowly brought up my binoculars up when needed. Other times, when I got close, I deliberately made myself obvious thinking that I might flush the bird and be able to follow it. It didn't seem to matter, I couldn't find the caller. It was getting pretty frustrating. I mean, this was loud and there was no excuse for not seeing it! I know it moved because it always seemed to go deeper into the jungle when it knew I was looking for it, and yet I didn't notice it leave.
This morning, I finally saw it move and I didn't lose it. There was another bird moving farther in and I think there was a pair. I was able to identify it; Bright-rumped Attila.
Not a lifer, but I have only seen it twice and only once for a decent look. It was a lifer for me February 27, 2010. It was in the same area, only rather than hiding in the leaves at mid-level, it was low and close to the bank of the creek. I saw him as I stood on the bridge and looked down. I didn't hear it call. I might have heard this call before, I don't remember it if I did. It has driven me crazy this month. Mystery solved. I got some photos which was good, my shots of the first sighting were terrible. My first sighting was also in February. I wonder if they are only here in the dry months? Or they only call in the dry months?
In my Ridgely/Gwynne guide, Ridgley says the bird is more often heard than seen and is ventriloquial. My new Howell/Webb Mexico guide says it's hard to locate when singing. Well, I do feel a little less inept!
Here is a link to a recording made by Steiof Klemes and posted on xeno-canto:
I am posting a video I made of the call. There is no bird image in the video, but the recording was pretty good. I think I can hear a return call to the Attila. There is also a Western Slaty Antshrike and a Cocoa Woodcreeper in the background.