Flycatchers – new surprise at Likweti

Flycatchers – new surprise at Likweti

Says Peter Lawson

“After all the regular birding I have done at Likweti since November, 2013 I would not have expected to be finding new birds for the growing list but Likweti is full of surprises.  On 6 August I spent a morning on the estate and picked up two additional birds, both of them Flycatchers.  There was Ashy Flycatcher and African Dusky Flycatcher.

Ashy Flyatcher

Both birds occur on the eastern side of the country and their range extends in a broad line down the coast to inland as far west as about 30 degrees. Thus Likweti is just in range. They both prefer dense woodland habitat but African Dusky is also present on forest margins. In riverine areas with big trees they both may occur virtually side by side.  Thus by rights they should be resident on Likweti but they are also known to be partial altitudinal migrants, particularly African Dusky, and could have moved down from the escarpment.

African Dusky Flycatcher

To the layman both species are reasonably similar in appearance, but Ashy Flycatcher has lovely pale blue-grey colouring, whereas African Dusky is more of a drab brown. It does have diffused streaking on the breast though and thus can also be confused with the more common Spotted Flycatcher which is  a summer migrant. This one also has a streaked crown and forehead though.

As the name implies the staple diet of all three species is flies and other small flying insects. They catch them in mid-air by briefly flying from a perch and then returning to the same perch.  Regrettably insecticides are a major problem to these birds.”

Pics:  Jacques de Villiers

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