Oct 5, 2023

MEGA: Dark-sided Flycatcher on Herdlevær

 What seemed to be a quiet day turned out to be a big one. A stroll at Herdlevær produced the usual suspects with two Yellow-browed Warblers, a Blackcap and Chiffchaff. On the way back I went with Julian Bell, who was also there. At the sjeldenhagen Julian noted a Spotted Flycatcher. We had very short views of the bird. We looked at each other and said that it seemed to have a lot of markings and off it flew...Alerted, but expecting nothing else but a Spotted flycatcher, we tried to find it again. It was flying a lot around and was erratic. Julian, however, took some pictures (me being clumsy with my new camera) on which we saw it was quite darkish and mottled on the underparts with lots of light fringes on many feathers on the back, head and rump. That made us discuss the possibility of a bird that was still extremely juvenile. After we found it back on another spot we both made some photo's. 

I mentioned the possibility of something much rarer (Grey-striped Flycatcher/Dark-sided Flycatcher), but that seemed far out. Julian had to leave, while I checked the photo's on my camera. Something made me uneasy; the eyering was too obvious and the bird seemed too mottled. I needed help and I texted Frode Falkenberg, Eirik Adolfsen and Terje Hansen. Eirik and Terje had been on Hernar together with Jørn Opsal and were present only some 20 minutes after I texted them. The first thing Eirik said was that this was something good AND IT WAS!! After Julian sent one of his pictures, other birders were consulted (my brother Sybrand and Enno Ebels were of great help) and it soon became clear that my suspicions were right; it looked indeed good for Dark-sided Flycatcher Muscicapa sibirica. Dark-sided Flycatcher would be a new bird for Norway and only the second for the Western Palearctic. Later at home, after checking documentation, consulting literature and speaking with other birders we decided to claim this bird as such!!

I hope that some better pictures are going to be made, but on the photo's so far all characters do fit this species best and rule out other Muscicapae, such as Grey-straked Flycatcher and Asian Brown Flycatcher. Ou bird is a typical, but rather darkish muscicapa flycatcher with a bold eyering, rather fine bill with only a small yellow base on the lower mandible, strong lateral throat-stripes, mottled flanks, diffusely mottled under tail-coverts and very long primaries. Further lots of whitish fringes along the greater and median coverts, tertials and upper parts, including head and back. That made the bird a first year with a good deal juvenile feathers, which is in fact typical for Dark-sided Flycatcher in October... See below

Not a very good picture, but my own

It was still present on the days after to the joy of many! Last day was 10th of October. And lots of photo's have been made. I don't normally place pictures of others, but in this case...Four persons have been so kind to let me use their pictures. Alf Alden does have some really good ones, Cecilie Hansen gave me a picture made by her partner Daniel Taranger and  Roald Hatten and Petter Thornes made some nice ones as well. See below. Thank you all for that😊  

Nice picture taken on Friday by Alf Alden

another picture with a better view of the undertail-coverts. Picture by Daniel Taranger

bilde Roald Hatten

bilde Roald Hatten

bilde Petter Thornes

Here you can read the article I wrote for Birdlife Norge

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