The Flycatcher

Three or four days a week I try to get away from the noise of the world and walk my local patch. It is not bird rich. I have found many interesting insects however and it seems to be a very productive area for butterflies. The area is a wooded hillside with streams running down into catchwaters. There are some wonderful views and I often find little places tucked away that few people seem to visit. One such area has offered up excellent dragonflies. Occasionally I go up and just sit on the rocks and watch a pool to see what visits.

Nevertheless birds are always in my sights and last week I walked up the lower part of the hill road and saw the gate to a private nursery garden open. I paused and peered in. As I did so a small bird perched up on the fence. Too quick for me but I knew it was a flycatcher. They often return and so I readied my camera gear. I had nothing more than a 400mm lens and the bird was behind a wire fence. I had to shoot through the gaps. And return it did.

Muscicapa griseisticta
Grey-streaked Flycatcher. Muscicapa griseisticta

A bird like this could be Dark-sided or Grey-streaked Flycatcher and this turned out to be the less common of the two. I was given a masterclass in flycatcher identification in the evening. This was my favourite frame – a cocked head possibly listening to the soft click of my shutter. Despite the fence I was able to get a clean line of sight.

I told a fellow photographer about it but neither he nor I has seen it since and the gate to the nursery is always locked when I walk past now. It was a rare stroke of luck to get this. Others go to bird hotspots and find all sorts of wonderful migrants. I dislike driving far now and prefer to walk locally. I accept the poor pickings and I am delighted with the odd bonus bird. The walking is good for my health. When it is cooler I shall recommence my walks to the top of Mount Parker. Who knows what flies higher up.

11 thoughts on “The Flycatcher

  1. What a shot you got! I don’t know much about lenses but I can appreciate the difficulties you faced. I love the cocked head~ “What was that? Who’s there??” Such a dainty beauty of a bird.

    • Thank you Melissa. After a long wait I have a NEW lens this week – 500mm not 400mm so hopefully they bird will perform again one day. I had quite a few shots but this had the most character to it in my opinion.

      • Oh boy, a new toy! I’m always excited when I can spring for something new in my studio.

  2. I laughed at your comment about having ‘nothing more than a 400mm lens.’ I’ve often wished for such a lens! You certainly put it to good use here. That’s quite an attractive pose, particularly given the limitations of the fence and such. Like you, I’ve noticed that some birds will return to the same spot over and again, like dragonflies. It’s fun to learn their habits.

    • Ah yes, dragonflies indeed do the same thing and very helpful it is too. A 400 lens is ok for birds if you can get reasonably close – for dragonflies 300 is usually adequate. But their season is largely over until Spring. I now have a 500m lens so here’s hoping.

  3. The photo is perfect in my eyes. Seeing this beautiful bird brought back many memories of all the magnificent bird photos that you have published on your blog. I have truly missed seeing your exceptional bird photos. And I might add that I am happy to see you posting again.

    • Thank you Yvonne. It is difficult to do as much as I want and I can’t really manage all the bird gear these days but fingers crossed I can find a few this winter.

  4. Glad to see another post from you, Andrew, and hope it portends of more.

    This is indeed a nice shot and your knowledge of the bird’s habits allowed you to be ready and prepared…and lucky as you happened by at the right time.

I'd be delighted to hear what you think

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