Spotted Flycatcher, a Rare Migrant, Spotted in Manipal, Karnataka

by Vrinda Lath, Mohith Shenoy K, Abhishek Maiya, and Nagendra Nayak
Mohith Shenoy K

Chosen as 'Picture of the Week'

The Spotted Flycatcher seems to prefer arid regions on passage. End Point is one of the scrubbier habitats in Manipal, and the flycatcher is yet another addition to the small area’s impressive checklist.

On the evening of 07 October 2017, a group of 4 birders and their friends visited End Point – a popular birding hotspot in Manipal – in hopes of catching a glimpse of something out of the ordinary. The passage season (end September and early October), usually brings in a surprise or two but even this gang of birders did not expect to encounter what they eventually documented that evening. A sparrow-sized bird perched up on a wire (and later, a fence) offered long views to all observers – Vrinda Lath, Mohith Shenoy K, Abhishek Maiya, and Nagendra Nayak. As soon as they got a good look, they were aware that the bird was something different and a photo was sent to Ramit Singal, who identified it as a Spotted Flycatcher. The bird was seen again on the morning of 08 October 2017, and then again – and for the last time – on the morning of 09 October 2017. All three sightings were at End Point, but at different locations within the site. The Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata) is not a particularly remarkable bird. It is best told apart by it’s somewhat large size (for a flycatcher), black bill, lack of eye ring, pale grey plumage, faint streaking running down the breast and fine streaks on the head. The subspecies found in our region spends its summer (breeding season) in central Asia and winters in Africa. In India, it is usually seen in autumn passage (September-October) in the arid regions of the north-west, particularly west Rajasthan and Kutchh. In the recent past, there have been sightings of this bird from Pune (Dec 2015), Goa (Sep 2016) and Tamil Nadu (Dec 2016). The Spotted Flycatcher seems to prefer arid regions on passage. End Point, though well out of the Flycatcher’s usual distribution/range, is one of the scrubbier habitats in Manipal, and regularly turns up birds such as Tawny Pipits and Short-toed Larks, and has previously played host to a Pale Rock Sparrow. The Flycatcher is yet another addition to the small area’s impressive checklist.

About the author

Vrinda Lath, Mohith Shenoy K, Abhishek Maiya, and Nagendra Nayak

The authors are active members of the Manipal Birders' Club.

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