Black-faced woodswallow seen at the Yankee Hat carpark 07/10/2017

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Subject: Black-faced woodswallow seen at the Yankee Hat carpark 07/10/2017
From: celia hindmarsh <>
Date: Sun, 8 Oct 2017 23:26:36 +0000
Here is my report from my checklist it has yet to be reviewed by the COG rarities panel so remains invalidated.

The bird was amongst a large flock of White-browed Woodswallows and Masked Woodswallows, with White-browed making up the majority. There was an aerial flock (approx 30 birds) and birds on the ground in the picnic area adjacent to the Yankee Hat car park. The group on the ground were in the small eucalypt trees and on the Verbascum thapsus rods. There was a loud chatter coming from the group. The bird which I identified as a Black-faced Woodswallow caught my eye as being different as it was so much paler than any of the other birds and it wasn't calling or interacting with the other birds and appeared on the periphery of the group. It was perched about 5 meters away from me approximately at my eye level in one of the small trees in the picnic area. I had good profile and frontal views for at least a few minutes before it flew off and I couldn't relocate it. The Woodswallow was an all grey bird (pale grey underneath and a few shades darker wings) with beak and small black mask identical to the Dusky Woodswallow which is the only Woodswallow I was familiar with before today's sighting. Despite this one similarity, the Dusky Woodswallow can be ruled out as a possibility as it's plumage is brown with a white wing bar. Once I saw the different bird I referred to my Pizzey and Knight phone app which was the only reference I had with me. Of the 6 Australian Woodswallows I could immediately rule out 4 (Dusky, Little, White-breasted and White-browed due to the colour of the breast plumage alone. This left only the male Masked Woodswallow and Black-faced Woodswallow as having pale grey underparts. I then ruled out the male Masked Woodswallow due to the large black mask covering the whole face, which the bird in question did not have. This left only one possibility, the Black-faced Woodswallow, however, I was unable to see the ventral plumage of the bird to further differentiate it. There were males and females of both White-browed and Masked Woodswallows in the immediate area to compare this bird to and it was definitely different. I don't have a photo, I viewed the bird with my 10x42 binoculars and the lighting was adequate as it was a clear and sunny day with little wind. I was with my husband and 3-year-old son but they are not able to assist with the identification. The large flock had completely moved on from the carpark by 1250. Once I got home I referred to my CSIRO ABG and online photos of the Black-faced Woodswallow which made me feel confident of my identification. Interestingly, the last reporting on eBird of this species in the vicinity of my sighting was on the 10/10/2012 in Hoskinstown almost exactly 5 years prior to mine. Also, 1 bird seen in a mixed flock of White-browed and Masked Woodswallows.
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