Saturday, March 17, 2012

How the camera can lie

Did SRF this morning with my friend Chris who is visiting on his way to lead the WPO expedition for WildWings. Things were pretty uneventful until we chanced upon a cracking male Blue-and-white Flycatcher in the Canal Zone.  It looked quite different from the bird I saw in April last year, so some consultation of my photos with Phil Round revealed that there are three sub-species, all of which have occurred in Thailand, and are candidates for splitting.

This first photo of today's bird shows the throat to be more-or-less concolorous with the mantle, which looks very different from last year's bird...

April 2011

However Phil wondered if today's photo was a true representation of the bird in the field.  I had though it looked a bit darker and a check of another photo (a blurred shot taken on the wrong settings!) showed  that it was actually markedly different when seen from a different angle in different lighting....

Today's blurd

In conclusion today's bird was cumatilis and last years bird was nominate cyanomelana.  Other notables today included three Taiga Flys, five Asian Brown Flys, two Brown Shrikes and an obvious increase in the number of Black-naped Orioles (20+ seen).

EDIT  August 2012: a paper has now been published in Forktail demonstrating that cumatilis is indeed a full species ("Zappey's Flycatcher").  Details can be found here.

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