Over the years Sandra and I have birded various places and seen various birds – most of which we were able to identify albeit some through a protracted process. It took me quite a while to realise that bird identification, while visiting foreign countries, does not need to be instant and that working on a species is quite acceptable, especially when it comes backed up with audio, such conundrums are usually from the tropics. There are always some birds that feel uncomfortable, images where you think it might be one thing but can’t rule out another, so I thought I’d lay bare my birding soul and ask for input on some images. I know you can do this on Facebook, but I’ve often been disappointed by the level of snide-ness that some ID requesters get subjected to. Sometimes your brain just fogs, people should remember that because, if they are any sort of birder, they will ask daft questions from time to time.
This re-evaluation of images has recently been inspired by the desire to add images to my eBird submissions, something that has shown me how little I understood eBird when I started to use it in 2012. Had I known that ‘X’ meant nothing and not ‘present’ as I thought at the time, I would have used a ‘1’ as a standard unless I had a higher count. It is also interesting reviewing old eBird checklists on the occasions where we were guided (very infrequent). We did a trip to Ecuador and the eBird reviewer is also the guy who guided us, so when something is flagged as rare, well you said it was one and we were too busy running from new bird to new bird to do anything but agree.
Some of the images are not great here and I suspect they will be eventually consigned to the digital dump, but it is worth having a bash just for the craik (an Irish word meaning craik).
Up first is a sparrow, probably, seen near Vigia Chico on the Yucatan Peninsula on 25-June-2009. It may be Green-backed Sparrow but it seems hefty, images 1 & 2.
Now a run of empid, or empid-like birds. The one below is from Mount Lemmon, Tucson AZ from 18-June-2014. It suggests Western Wood-Pewee but that bill is long, much longer than any of those in my other pewee shots from the west and taken on previous trips, images 3 & 4.
Update: When I saw this bird and later filed my photos this silent empid went down as a Cordilleran, however, that bill didn’t match any of the field guides. Experience is the thing with empids and Thor has advised that it is good for Cordilleran both physically and based on location. Thanks Thor for your input, much appreciated, Cordilleran it is.
This one is from west Mexico, near Puerto Vallarta in January 2013. We didn’t go up high so a Pacific lowland species, image 5.
Update: Dominic suggest Pine Flycatcher and I really don’t know why I never considered it but yes, in aspect Pine flycatcher fits.
This one is from the Sedona area of Arizona. I thought Grey Flycatcher when I looked at the images but, again, pewee is possible although it does look weird, images 6 & 7.
Update: I think I am going with the consensus that this is a Western Wood-pewee (based on location). Gray Flycatcher was another possibility and discussed but a couple of point were not quite right.
Two more from June 2009 and the Yucatan. I am fairly sure that they are different birds. Neither looks right for the regular flycatchers in the area, the bar above the bill on the flying bird is especially odd, images 8 & 9.
Update: This one proved to be a bit problematical. Greenish Elaenia was considered but the pale band above the bill makes this a Northern Beardless Tyrannulet, thanks to Dominic for his input.
The second bird is clearly something else and my feeling is that it is a Tropical Pewee.
And finally, and admittedly perhaps outside the range of experience for readers of this blog; I was in Egypt on an island in the Nile at Luxor, March 2011, photographing Black Kites. Mid snap this flew over and I got two bites before it vanished and for some reason I never returned to the images until now to look at it again. From the angle it looks vaguely Chaetura swift-like but is likely a Rock Martin type, images 10 & 11.
Update: Steve has suggested that this is what we used to call Pale Rock Martin, a species that now sits lumped with Rock Martin. Funny how a fluffed up body can change the feeling an image gives you. I have another what I call African Rock Martin shot from the same trip and am happy that this particular mystery is now solved, thanks Steve.
All help is appreciated and input can be anonymous if desired although I’m sure the CIA, when reading this, won’t be much interested in unidentifiable empids unless the obnoxious Trump is planning to deport them all as undocumented!
Oh, and Merry Christmas or whatever.