Friday, May 15, 2009

The Ones That Get Away

There are some species out there, like the American Goldfinch, that are easily identifiable, and photogenic. On my lunch today along the Coal Creek Trail I took the picture above. It is in poor light, and has a branch in the foreground, but nonetheless tells the story that I saw a Goldfinch on my walk.

Much the same, this Say's Phoebe accompanied me on my cut across a field along a barbed wire fence. Despite being very close it always remained "up" sun from me. That made good eye shots impossible, and washed out a lot of detail. Even with those challenges identifying the bird was no challenge, and after a first glimpse I knew I was walking with a Phoebe.

Here is my mystery guest though. Much like a Yeti, Loch/Sea Creature or Missing Link it evaded any clear picture of its head or breast. This was despite the fact that I was a few feet from it, and it didn't flush immediately.

It was crafty in its ability to move between leaves and branches, and despite the moves we both made, I could not catch more than a fleeting glimpse at any time. All the same I had the impression of a small, uniformly brown, finch like bird. This was between two longer observations of American Goldfinches, and it gave off the impression of being close to the same size beak to tail, but of being more sleek as well.
It remained quiet while I observed it, and stayed close to the center of a shrubby tree right on the bank of the creek. It continued to deeper cover based on my position with a series of small jumps or hops, rather than flights of any kind of distance. However I should state that when I lost it I could not relocate it in the same tree despite watching for some minutes.

Have you ever seen this bird before? Do you recall a similar experience with an unidentified feathery flier? After multiple searches and slow looks through my copy of Sibley I am resigned to not finding the answer after this encounter, but that doesn't mean I wont be back looking again.
In the meantime just another one of those birds to keep me scratching my head in wonder.

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