First-winter Pied Flycatcher

First-winter, in July and present for just one day. A local scarcity with only one or two records per year. Thanks to this excellent set of images by Steve Brayshaw we can confidently age last weekend’s Denton Wood Pied Flycatcher as a first-winter.

First-winter Pied Flycatcher, Denton Wood, 27th July 2014 (Steve Brayshaw)

First-winter Pied Flycatcher, Denton Wood, 27th July 2014 (Steve Brayshaw)

A combination of characters set this bird apart from adult female and non-breeding male but the clincher is the pattern on the middle tertial: broad white fringe on the outer web, thickening at the tip while extending slightly down the shaft, creating a ‘step’ effect where it joins the thinner, white border on the inner web.

First-winter Pied Flycatcher, Denton Wood, 27th July 2014 (Steve Brayshaw)

First-winter Pied Flycatcher, Denton Wood, 27th July 2014 (Steve Brayshaw)

In adults the white fringe is narrow and more uniform in width, like that on the lower tertial of this individual. Other first-winter features include the slightly darker throat, making the pale submoustacial stripe stand out, paler tips to some of the median coverts, curved white tips to the greater coverts forming a ‘sawtooth’ effect and the relatively pointed tail feathers.

First-winter Pied Flycatcher, Denton Wood, 27th July 2014 (Steve Brayshaw)

First-winter Pied Flycatcher, Denton Wood, 27th July 2014 (Steve Brayshaw)

Black (not brown-black) tail and upper tail coverts suggest this is a young male. A very smart bird indeed!

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