An out of place bird

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: An out of place bird
From: Laurie Knight <>
Date: Mon, 25 Nov 2013 21:56:28 +1000
The Roma St Parklands are an inner city green space centred on a big pond and an intensive garden known as Colin Campbell Place (formerly the Spectacle Garden). CCP is normally inhabited by a family of Superb Fairy Wrens and a heap of Eastern Water Dragons. Buff-banded Rails often manifest there. Occasionally visitors drop in. For example, two years ago a young Powerful Owl made a cameo appearance.

Today, as I was making my way around the circuit through CCP, I came across a bird that had me peering closely. It had the look of a motacilla (wagtail) and a plumage a bit like a Circadabird.

It was in a 10m+ high evergreen tree (not a local species). I initially noticed it flying into the tree and found it in the upper parts near the leaves. When I first saw it entering the tree (from behind) It was dark, and shaped and sized a bit like a Willie Wagtail (breeding resident). However, seen without the aid of optics, it didn't look like a WW.

It had the body shape and and jizz of a different passerine - while it was about the size of a willie wagtail, it was more slender, with a smallish head and a long slender tail. It wasn't actively moving its tail. Overall it looked greyish/dark, darker around the head. No noticeable plumage markings (barring on chest or undertail). The bird was quiet. It made short flight hops from branch to branch and then flew off (I couldn't refind it). It's bill was dark, and I couldn't see any decurviture.

The only regional species I can think of that remotely fits the bill is a Circadabird, which itself would be unusual in that location a little over a kilometre from the GPO. However, its underparts didn't seem to be as dark as you would expect with an adult male Circadabird (perhaps a bird moulting into adult plumage). Andrew Stafford suggested White-bellied Cuckoo-Shrike (possibly an immature). However, it didn't appear to have the bulk of a Coracina, and as it watched me from the canopy, its head, tail and body attitude was more like a wagtail / Reed-Warbler / Grass-warbler.

Whatever it was, it was an out of place bird in that garden.

Regards, Laurie.

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