Date: 4/29/19 11:18 pm From: David Irons <LLSDIRONS...> Subject: [obol] Late local RBA: Douglas County GRAY FLYCATCHER
It was sort of a long and busy weekend mostly spent away from any sort of keyboard, hence the tardy report. Shawneen and I went down to the Umpqua Valley to lead a field trip for the Friends of Ford's Pond group and do two book-signing events at book stores in Sutherlin and Roseburg. We also did some birding and socializing with Matt Hunter and others.
On Friday we met up with Matt in Roseburg in the late morning after driving down from Beaverton. I was most interested in exploring some of the oak savannah grassland habitats, as most of that sort of habitat is gone from our neck of the woods. Matt suggested Mildred Kanipe County Park about 15 miles or so NE of Roseburg. I had asked about places with Grasshopper and Vesper Sparrows and this area has hosted both as breeders in recent years. The first section of the park we visited was a rolling open grassy area with scattered short hawthorn trees and some smaller blackberry mounds. I wishfully mentioned to Matt that it looked like a good place to find a stray Gray Flycatcher. He agreed, then shared that he wasn't sure if he'd ever seen Gray Flycatcher in the county. We got great looks at a Vesper Sparrow, but saw no Grasshopper Sparrows.
After this first spot we continued on to the picnic area where the Kanipe family home was once located. We walked down along the creek, crossed a footbridge and went up onto a semi-open hillside with widely scattered hawthorns and other brush mounds. While enjoying a bunch of sparrows and Lazuli Buntings, we heard the quick song of a Empidonax flycatcher, but not well enough for any of us to identify. I was first lay eyes on the flycatcher when I found it perching pretty low in a short hawthorn then watched it sally out and go to the ground for a prey item before it returned to its perch. This perch-to-ground feeding behavior is very typical of Gray Flycatcher. Matt and Shawneen quickly got on the bird and in short order we all agreed that it was a Gray Flycatcher. In addition to feeding like a Gray, it was gently dipping its tail and then it sang again well enough for all of us to hear, clinching the ID. Matt got a bunch of close-up photos while Shawneen and I were able to get audio recordings of the song. The bird was hanging in one small area and we never saw it leave. A few minutes later we found another or the same Gray Flycatcher about 200 yards from where we saw the first bird. We were never able to confirm if there were one or two Grays present.