Date: 11/14/20 7:18 am
From: bill shelmerdine <georn1...>
Subject: [obol] Regarding mystery November Empid at Hatfield Lake
First off, thanks to all of you that weighed in or offered I.D. suggestions and opinions. It has been an interesting discussion and I hope others have learned something from it. I feel I should add that this is/ was not intended to be identification by committee, but more to shed light on what I may have been missing while working out an I.D. Given my lack of experience with late fall (November) Empids and that seasonal variation and molt in this group may be under appreciated (at least by me), I think the discussion has been particularly enlightening and extra caution was and is warranted.
Second, let me apologize to Tom and the locals that I did not get the word out more quickly. Being on the road adds a slight challenge in that regard, but certainly not insurmountable. For what it’s worth, I did however share a few pictures and the exact location of the bird with the few local birders that I encountered on site that day. Still it serves as a reminder that getting the word out quickly is of interest. In that regard, I have yet to embark on the “What’s App” journey.
Now, for my thoughts on the bird. I believe it is a Dusky Flycatcher. After a healthy dose of “what the hell is that”, I left the site thinking that was the most likely candidate. After checking references and following the excellent discussion in this forum I feel more confident that Dusky is the right call. At the time I did give a lot of consideration to Cordilleran or other Western forms in particular. While Tom is right, I was not able to get any photos of the breast, I do have more photos and one that perhaps shows slightly more of the flanks that I will attach here. I did get a pretty good look at the underside and breast when it was briefly perched in some low branches and I failed to include a couple of items in my notes that don’t show in the photos. The bird appeared relatively long tailed in the field, a feature that does not show at all in the photos. Also the bird flicked it’s tail up on a few occasions, but was not seen to flick it’s wings at all.
Why Dusky and not Pac-slope/ Cordilleran? Bill shape in particular, being rather narrow and longish with the color fitting Dusky OK. Lack of green tones or wash and a distinctly gray contrasting pattern in the upper parts between the dull olive crown and upper back, and the pale underparts with gray vested look, again lacking green tones. Sure, some western types may be super dull at this time of year but it just doesn’t look quite right to me and I would expect them to be more uniformly greenish (or brownish for the upperparts) though granted my experience with late fall birds is limited. Also, the eye ring shape seems fine for Dusky as expressed in many fall photos in the Macaulay Library as do the overall proportions of the bird when perched on low branches and not hunkered down from the wind and fluffed up in the cold as in the photos.
Thanks again for an interesting discussion. Now, to see what the ebird reviewers do with this one. Good luck.
Bill Shelmerdine
Olympia WA

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