Following my posting of this, I put the report to the rarities panel (decision pending). However I have also had an interesting exchange with Tobias Hayashi who drew attention to another ‘’olive wash’ bird he photographed at the same site. After some back and forth Tobias had the idea of forwarding the photos to Jeff Davies, whose views are as follows:
<< Thanks Geoffrey for putting this photo out there for scrutiny and thanks Tobias for running with it. I am always happy to look at photos of non-male Whistlers, they are not easy.
I would say it’s a Golden Whistler and you have both photographed the same individual days apart. I still haven’t got the passerine volumes of HANZAB so can’t comment on the text.
Key features to me would be:-
-Dark base to bill and clean look without any retained rufous juv feathers confirms you are not looking at a first year bird. It’s interesting that the bill is solidly dark however, this varies with individuals but Olive females typically have a pale base to bill in non-breeding and so too do lots of Golden, I’m assuming May is a non-breeding period but maybe the hormones are already starting to surge.
-Bill is not thick enough for Olive.
-Olive typically has more of a bull neck than your bird.
-Soft grey under-parts without a noticeable contrast with throat.
-Importantly I can see a lemon suffusion near junction of under-tail coverts and flank adjacent to vent, visible in both Geoffrey’s and Tobias’s photos. Have re-attached both of your photos with levels shifted so you can see this feature.
-Pale tips to greater wing coverts of this bird is good for Golden but I haven’t seen it in Olive.
I think the greener back is indicative of your east NSW location ssp youngii, but I haven’t got HANZAB to confirm that. >>
In the circumstances I am happy to withdraw the Olive record. Sometimes it is as important to withdraw a record as it is to make one (maybe even more important sometimes).
I must add that I have the highest regard for Tobias’ opinions. It is not the first time he has properly corrected me on something. He is a fine observer with boundless curiosity and the drive and energy to follow things up. He is also an excellent photographer. Needless to say I think he would make a great professional ornithologist, but he would probably be wasted in that field.