• lab27
    • lab8
    • lab2
Oct 23: Another day, another year tick!

Yesterday afternoon, literally five minutes after he’d first found the bird, the brilliant Angus Daly posted on Facebook that he’d seen a Satin Flycatcher at Raven Street Reserve, which is an isolated fragment of eucalypt woodland in the northern suburbs of Brisbane. Although I saw the news almost straight away, I wouldn’t have time to dash there that afternoon, and instead made plans to go early this morning. I didn’t have much time, and I really needed to back home by 7am at the latest. Consequently I set the alarm for 0345 for the second time in three days…

Waking up eager to go, I was in the car by 0400, and arrived on site at Raven Street Reserve at about 0440 just at first light. Dawn chorus was in full swing, and I headed into the woodland for the short walk to the spot where Angus had the bird yesterday (eBird list here). I could only hear and see common birds, although presently a cracking Black-faced Monarch appeared – this is also a spring migrant in lowland Brisbane, albeit a substantially commoner one than Satin Flycatcher. The flycatcher is an exceptionally and somewhat inexplicably rare spring migrant in Brisbane. The timing of the passage is rather broad, with records occurring all the way from September to April. October is the best month, and I had been hoping one might turn up before the month’s end. Sue Lee and Catherine Hirsch photographed one at Bellbird Grove on 27 Feb, and that had remained the only Brisbane record this year until yesterday.

Suddenly I heard the Satin Flycatcher calling, and it appeared almost as if by magic at close quarters. I was flabbergasted – what a total cracker! Striking glossy black and crisp white plumage, a concave-shaped and blotchy border between the black breast and white belly, and a very dark undertail combined to make the bird’s identity instantly clear. Leaden Flycatcher is a confusion species, and some Satins can resemble Leadens quite closely. But this one was strikingly obvious, and I was very happy! It performed on and off for about 20 minutes or so, disappearing for several minutes at a time before briefly reappearing and showing reasonably well, if generally high up in the trees and in low light conditions.

I took the chance to leave early and try to beat the rush hour home, which was just as well, as the traffic was already building up on the roads towards to the CBD even before 0600! Louis Backstrom was en route as I left, and got onto the bird at about 0630.

With one year tick today, and with my year list only sticking on 300 for two days, I incremented to 301 species. I spent 50 minutes birding, walked 0.952 km and drove 52.4 km. My chronological year list is here.

Satin Flycatcher – note the blotchy, concave edge to the breast band, strikingly black head and bib, and very dark undertail.

Here’s a lightened shot of the undertail – Leaden normally shows substantial paleness on the undertail, especially pale feather shafts. This tail appears completely dark.