Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cyornis headache

I'm in Mae Sot this week, working each day but sneaking in a bit of birding at the reservoir before work. A nice selection of birds today included BLUE MAGPIE, four PURPLE SUNBIRDS, several PIED BUSHCHATS, one or two RADDE'S WARBLER and this tricky female Cyornis flycatcher... 

This flycatcher twice gave a sharp, almost scolding "tak" call, which (according to Robson 2004) reduces the options to either Blue-throated, or Hill Blue Flycatcher.  Given the bird's rather greyish lores and relatively pale, non-uniform breast with orange restricted to the breast (not extending onto the flanks), I think this bird is a female BLUE-THROATED FLYCATCHER.  However the top photo shows no evidence of a "strongly refescent" tail, which is noted as a feature by Robson.  This may be simply because the photo was taken in deep shade and the tail is out of focus, or possibly because this bird is of the race glaucicomans (split by some authorities as "Chinese Blue Flycatcher") though I'm struggling to reconcile the other features of that race (strongly orange breast with contrasting pale throat, brown-washed flanks - see this image) with the subject bird.  I've seen females of both Hill Blue and Blue-throated before, but not recently, so thoughts/suggestions/confirmation welcome!

EDIT, 3rd Oct 2011:  After seeing another migrant Cyronis at Suan Rot Fai I feel more comfortable with the idea of the mae Sot bird being Chinese Blue, most notably because of the pale throat.  I believe the bird linked to in the post above, seen by another observer in Suan Rot Fai in Sept 2008, is actually a Hill Blue, rather than a Chinese Blue Flycatcher (due to the lack of contrast between breast and throat).

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