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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 08:15   #1
herald petrel
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Robin or flycatcher with yellow below

My wife saw what she described as a robin type bird with yellow below, brown back, no superciliary or wing bars, dark thin bill, like a robin in profile, brown on crown/head. It did not behave like a warbler and was just like a robin in its movements. It did not raise or lower its tail, so held it like a robin's. It seemed to be interested in the insects on the pile of apples in the recycling bin. It had some pale white in the belly area, so was not completely yellow underneath. It stayed motionless on the handle of a small recycling bin in the middle of the garden for about 30 seconds and behaved like a robin.
This was in our garden in greater London yesterday afternoon. I did not see any detail on the bird, but saw it in slilhouette and it flew up to the apple tree with a straight flight and looked in profile like a robin, tail medium length, perhaps slightly longer than a robin's. I saw it look brown above.
My son also saw it in flight and thought he saw some brown hatching on the back with greyer at the sides.
I went through a lot of common species to establish what it was not, as she is not a birder, and we quickly ruled out the commoner species and so I was left with only rare birds.
She saw the picture of female Siberian Blue Robin and thought it similar, so the yellow colouration could have been more buff possibly, but more yellow than buff. The tail looked dark - not blue. She felt it was too yellow though for this.
We went through the sizes and she thought bigger than a house sparrow. On further questioning she thought it could have been a bit smaller.
I showed her a picture of a female redstart, which seemed similar, except for the yellow below.
She also thought female red-breasted flycatcher was similar in profile, except again for the yellow.
I guess we will never know what it really was but it seems an intriguing bird.
I spent the afternoon looking out for it but to no avail and as she is a non-birder I could not be certain it was not a commoner bird.
What did worry me was that she was certain she had never seen it before and was quite excited about it.
Any comments welcome.
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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 08:27   #2
skatebirder
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In some lighting conditions, Blackcaps can look yellow below, although never bright yellow. The rest of the plumage features could fit Blackcap.
David
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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 08:53   #3
herald petrel
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Thanks,
I don't think it was a blackcap, as she says that there was no contrast between the brown of the crown and the rest of the upperparts. It was uniform in colour from the head to the back area - with the back being brown.
The light conditions would be unlikely to make the bird show yellow, as it was in the shade of the tree.
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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 09:02   #4
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Did it look anything like this?
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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 09:35   #5
herald petrel
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No, as the bird did not have any speckling at all on the lower parts - it was just pure yellow, save for the paler belly area. i think a sketch might help.
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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 10:05   #6
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Bad view of a Dunnock maybe or even a Wren from behaviour?


A
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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 11:10   #7
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Spotted Flycatcher ? in a different light
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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 11:38   #8
herald petrel
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Thanks.
I have quizzed her again and it was yellow buff on the side and flanks and breast with no clear speckling at a range of 80 feet.
I asked her to look through the book of birds of Thailand and she picked out Siberian Blue Robin immature female, although there were no specks on the upper breast visible.
We will carry on keeping an eye out in case it returns.
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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 12:34   #9
Paul Longland
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Anyone seen the Yank Redstart on Shetland today?

Female common redstart perhaps in a funny light?

Juv willow w/chiff

Clutching at straws really without a pic but certainly sounds interesting.
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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 13:24   #10
andyadcock
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Originally Posted by herald petrel View Post
Thanks.
I have quizzed her again and it was yellow buff on the side and flanks and breast with no clear speckling at a range of 80 feet.
I asked her to look through the book of birds of Thailand and she picked out Siberian Blue Robin immature female, although there were no specks on the upper breast visible.
We will carry on keeping an eye out in case it returns.
Why on earth would you assume that it's a 'mega' and not instead look through the British bird books which is I'm sure, with patience, is where it will be found?

Sounds like you've had a ropey view of a bird that you can't immediately identify, that does not mean it's from Asia!

That comparison is starting to sound like a Redstart to me?


A

Last edited by andyadcock : Thursday 14th September 2017 at 13:26.
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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 14:58   #11
herald petrel
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I expect that you are right and that it was not anything - my wife saw if for 30 seconds or so and was convinced it was something unusual. I did actually go through all the common birds first with her and nothing fitted the robin jizz and yellow below. I don't think it fitted anything common I could think of, hence the post to see what other people think.
I gave her all the books that might have the bird in it and she was convinced it was the female Siberian Blue Robin this morning, when she came across the picture. I take the line that it is best to let people know that you might have found something unusual, in case it turns up again, in case more people can then be alerted before it is too late.
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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 16:16   #12
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Originally Posted by herald petrel View Post
. I take the line that it is best to let people know that you might have found something unusual, in case it turns up again, in case more people can then be alerted before it is too late.
Very true, if you posted pics in six months time of a Siberian Blue Robin, eye-brows would be raised and maybe blood pressure too!

Try and get a shot if it's seen again.


A

Last edited by andyadcock : Thursday 14th September 2017 at 20:25.
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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 19:22   #13
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Why not add to the mix an escaped bird I,ve seen plenty over the years, but I will admit not like the one being Mentioned, mine have either been flyovers or in flight at least nothing like a chat mind.
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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 20:21   #14
herald petrel
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Thanks. As there was no sign today I expect it has moved on.
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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 20:38   #15
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I wonder if it could be a Robin with abnormal pigmentation - the red/orange breast "faded" to yellow? Could potentially be caused by either genetic or nutritional factors.
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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 20:41   #16
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Thanks. As there was no sign today I expect it has moved on.
Shame! Moral of the story; next time your better half sees an unusual bird get even a crappy piccy on the mobile

Its very hard to convey birds seen and not identified, even for birders often. A recurring example are "yellow" Corn Buntings. loads of them! Of course they are in fact bright buff - in sunshine/bright light. Certainly throws ideas for folk trying to work it out. If it was actually yellow below, like a banana, then you could maybe look at american warblers, or tanagers, but it would be more likely to be an escaped captive bird than that by far (or Siberian Blue Robin).

Mind you, its that time of year....

edit:..and Steve's suggestion is a good one too?

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Old Thursday 14th September 2017, 23:54   #17
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Yes, thanks for the feedback. I will keep the camera ready just in case...
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Old Friday 15th September 2017, 09:32   #18
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Can I just add that when having a phone (most people have one on them most of the time) and/or a camera with you, remember to take a video of the bird as well because they move so quickly that you don't always have the time to get a good shot whereas videoing the bird will give you more opportunities to capture its characteristics and an idea of its scale/dimensions - and give you the option to upload screen captures too.
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Old Friday 15th September 2017, 13:14   #19
herald petrel
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Thanks, will bear this in mind next time!
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Old Friday 15th September 2017, 18:37   #20
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Just seen this, an intriguing account be it from a birder, or non-birder, whichever the case. FWIW over the last 40 years (at two addresses) I've been called by my wife on just the two occasions (when I've been at the front of the house...and her at the back)....and she too is a non-birder, to come quickly, as she's got something odd looking? On both occasions I hot-footed it and to my total surprise a Wheatear on the first occasion! habitat completely wrong totally incongruous, and on the second occasion (she was on the phone to a friend at the time) she shouted out does a Waxwing have "orange" beneath the tail area? I saw the first but not the second. When I questioned her regarding the latter, she confirmed on size and general cosmetics...also the all important crest. I told her that I would have to "run it past" the all important jury of "one...who wasn't there", needless to say it got the rubber stamp of approval and is included on the all important garden list. The moral to this is that...when non-birders go shopping, they don't pick up bananas when they want oranges cos apart from shape...they're different colours. I think post 15 was the most helpful and objective comment to date, for general interest Herald Petrel, how far was your wife from the subject?

Cheers
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Old Friday 15th September 2017, 18:48   #21
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Originally Posted by Simon Wates View Post
Shame! Moral of the story; next time your better half sees an unusual bird get even a crappy piccy on the mobile

Its very hard to convey birds seen and not identified, even for birders often. A recurring example are "yellow" Corn Buntings loads of them Of course they are in fact bright buff - in sunshine/bright light. Certainly throws ideas for folk trying to work it out. If it was actually yellow below, like a banana, then you could maybe look at american warblers, or tanagers, but it would be more likely to be an escaped captive bird than that by far (or Siberian Blue Robin).

Mind you, its that time of year....

edit:..and Steve's suggestion is a good one too?
Corn Buntings. loads of them! I wish there was here Simon your lucky to see or hear a single bird here in derbyshire now at any time I can remember flocks of between 50 and 100 birds on occasions in the winter months in the late1980s and into the 1990,s in south east derbyshire I wonder if or when they,ll start comeing back here.

Last edited by coaltit : Friday 15th September 2017 at 18:54.
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Old Friday 15th September 2017, 19:06   #22
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Corn Buntings. loads of them! I wish there was here Simon your lucky to see or hear a single bird here in derbyshire
Yes, its not good, its the price of modern farming etc. "When I were a lad" used to see flocks of 10s almost in central Manchester (Chorlton Meadows - 4m south of the actual centre) as well as Grey Partridges and some breeding Grasshopper Warblers - it was my local patch. None of that nowadays. Here in Portugal we have plenty of areas with low population and old fashioned agriculture - and lots of CBs. Lets hope it lasts!
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Old Friday 15th September 2017, 20:56   #23
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Yes, its not good, its the price of modern farming etc. "When I were a lad" used to see flocks of 10s almost in central Manchester (Chorlton Meadows - 4m south of the actual centre) as well as Grey Partridges and some breeding Grasshopper Warblers - it was my local patch. None of that nowadays. Here in Portugal we have plenty of areas with low population and old fashioned agriculture - and lots of CBs. Lets hope it lasts!
Its rare for me to go abroad but in December 1987 I went with family
To portugal for the christmas and I did see some good birds I remember Black Redstart and Blue Rock Thrush on some cliffs we visited along the coast, Among others but yes it was like travelling back in time when seeing a yoke
Being used on lifestock and little wooden carts with big wooden wheels it was Almost biblical to me one stonechat just jumping out into the road in front of me no sense of fear yes it was a wonderful experience Indeed, I was sitting Outdoors with my family at lagos along side the harbour haveing a lager, when just in the background I noticed a large cloud appear over the coast, Apparently it was snow and the first from memory that had ever been seen there I was probabily the first or one of the first englishman to see that there
anyway I,m just getting carried away here, but its nice to hear that things are the same as I remember them in portugal in tenerife it was all timeshares hopefully portugal missed most of that.
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Old Monday 18th September 2017, 08:22   #24
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My wife was about 60-70 feet away - she is adamant it was something she had not seen before.
I have suggested immature robin but she says no, as it was too yellow below. It behaved like a robin and the normal garden we have has perched on the same recycling bin subsequently.
My son is 9 years old and says he also saw a robin type bird with blue in the tail two days ago. He has seen blue in a robin type bird twice now he says and described yellow on the flanks/side and also brown above. He also says he saw blue in the back area. I showed him the likely candidates and he said more like the Siberian Blue than Red-Flanked on colour.
I missed those sightings too(!), except I did see a robin type bird yesterday briefly in flight with the naked eye from the apple tree, which seemed grey to me (I did not see the sides) which called with an unfamiliar call 'tweeoo' with a slightly grating tone. I am still skeptical about all this, hence have not asked people to look for the bird, as I am not sure my son has definitely seen what he says he's seen,as he might just want my attention, however he is familiar with birds and does sketches of them and I don't 100% think he would literally lead me up the garden path!
I am actually a birder, but not much of twitcher these days, but in the 450s BOU.
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Old Monday 18th September 2017, 11:34   #25
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Here in Portugal we have plenty of areas with low population and old fashioned agriculture - and lots of CBs. Lets hope it lasts!
Fortunately the same here in Bulgaria Simon! As you say, long may it continue!

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