Let me bring you songs from the wood: to make you feel much better than you could know. Dust you down from tip to toe. Show you how the garden grows....
“Which one was that, TT? Did you see it?” were my first two questions as soon as I saw a flash of a bird in the undergrowth. In that brief moment what I could make out was that it had a dazzling-white supercilium and generally black everywhere else. I was so engrossed in peering through the bushes that I didn’t realise that TT was asking me the exact same question as well.
It wasn’t a call I had heard before and that made it a zillion-times worse. Not that I am any good with remembering calls and songs of birds – let me correct that statement, I am awful at remembering calls and song of birds. Fortunately though, I am able to remember if I have heard them before and this one sounded new, a bird I wasn’t acquainted with yet – it was a series of high-pitched penetrating whistles consisting of some disyllabic notes. Clearly a lifer, no doubt about it.
But the visitor didn’t hang around the place for long. Just as suddenly as we had seen it, he disappeared down the road into other bushes. Since we didn’t even have an idea of what the identity of the bird, we didn’t really have a starting point to try and flush him out with a playback of the call. After hanging around the area for a few minutes hoping for another fortuitous sighting we moved on, quite reluctantly.
We walked ahead and got busy with a flock of Yuhina’s when I saw the same mesmerising flash again. This time though I managed to get a quick shot which helped us tentatively identify the bird. We were lucky that we had its call downloaded in one of our phones and playing it led to an immediate response from the bird. Ah ha, our identification seemed to have been spot on, bingo.
The male White-browed Shortwing is dark slaty-blue, with black lores and fine white supercilium. He peeped out through the undergrowth and I shot off a few quick ones before he disappeared.
The female has brown upperparts with more rufescent wings, and brownish underparts with paler belly and I could spot her through the shrubbery a little ahead. She didn’t hang around too long and disappeared behind her mate.