Saturday, September 20, 2008

Back on the mainland

After five days of chasing mega-rarities all over Southeast Farallon Island, I'm back in SF proper. Friday morning at Sutro Heights Park one of the first birds I looked at was a basic plumage American Redstart (a lot of those around!). Overall things seemed pretty quiet though. I went to work in the Presidio. Just as I was about to leave the office at Fort Scott, I glimpsed a little bird hovering below a pine. I got my binoculars and checked it out--a dull emidonax flycatcher. I followed it around and got some pretty good looks. Notoriously difficult to identify, North American empidonax flycatchers comprise around 10 species of non-descript neo-tropical migrants best id'd by their calls. This one was grayish and silent. Having just seen a few Least Flycatchers on the Farallons I thought this was a good candidate. Pacific-slopes Flycatchers are the most common around here and this bird did not look like one to me. It was dull grayish green, not the bright yellow and olive of a Pac-slope. And it's eye ring was not tapered to a point in behind the eye. Neither did it look right for a Hammond's or a Dusky Flycatcher, both of which have a mostly dark lower bill and a grayer head that contrasts with a green body. Also the pale edging on the wing feathers, best seen from behind, contrast markedly with the overall dark color of the wing feathers. So I guess it could have been a Least. I'm going to let some folks weigh in on the photos before I call it. Click on images for a larger view.

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