Thursday, September 29, 2016

Variegated Flycatcher at SPI, 9/28/16

Wow, what a day!  Honey and I returned home from the Philippines about a week ago and since then I've been battling a head cold and and a colossal case of jetlag that has left me unable to sleep.  But with a cool front flowing in from the northeast and rainy weather out on South Padre Island, I decided to say "to hell with it" and go birding anyway.  The day went well with lots of migrants, including some pretty good stuff that I will go over later.  I was on my way home, about halfway to Los Fresnos, when I got the call from Mary Gustafson that Javi Gonzalez had posted a photo online of a streaked flycatcher at the South Padre Island Birding Center that was obviously not a Sulphur-bellied and didn't look right for Piratic either.  Variegated Flycatcher?  Well, I made a u-turn and arrived at the birding center at 6 PM and a few birders were looking through scopes and then running to a new location and then running back.  I joined them just in time to get great views of the first Variegated Flycatcher ever seen in the state of Texas and only the seventh ever for North America.

Variegated Flycatcher is a South American species whose southern race migrates north to northern parts of the continent during the austral winter and then fly south for the austral spring.  This bird being present during our North American fall, as have four of the previous six records, represents a reverse migrant, i.e. one that has migrated at a path 180 degrees from its proper route to its breeding grounds.  It is hypothesized that the many records of Fork-tailed Flycatcher during fall in the USA are also reverse migrants.  Here's some more shots.

An overdue addition to the state list.  Who knows what will show up next on the amazing South Padre Island?

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