In East Gippsland we are lucky to have three of Australia’s five flycatcher species in the Myiagra genus, the Satin, Leaden and Restless. The other two Myiagra species are the Shinning and Broad-billed Flycatchers found only in tropical northern Australia. In northern Australia the Satin, Leaden and Restless are sedentary or locally nomadic and in the southeast, particularly in East Gippsland the Satin and Leaden are summer migrants and the Restless is more or less resident all year round though some what nomadic outside of the breeding season.
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|Restless Flycatcher, the males and females look the same.|
|The stunning male Shinning Flycatcher photographed on the Daintree River in northern Queensland.|
|The female Shinning Flycatcher looks very different to her mate above.|
|Male Satin Flycatcher calling to a female perched nearby.|
|Male Leaden Flycatcher - can look very similar to the male Satin Flycatcher in some light.|
|A female Leaden Flycatcher - the female Satin Flycatcher looks nearly identical to the female Leaden.|
On a recent BirdLife East Gippsland outing to Buchan and the surrounding area we came across four or five Restless Flycatchers hunting insect prey along a quiet rural road. After many days of cold, wet and overcast weather the sun was out at last and birds were making the most of the conditions. No doubt hunger drove them to catch up after a lean period.
The flycatchers were using the farm fences along the road to perch and look for prey in the grass. At times they hovered above the grass while making their distinctive grinding, churring sounds that are thought to disturb insects into movement.
The grinding sound is the basis of an old common name for this Flycatcher, “Scissors Grinder”, still used with affection by some to name this attractive bird. I think the name restless is also a good name, which well describes this very active and seldom still species.
Some of the birds were so intent on chasing prey that they tolerated reasonably close approach by a number of photographers in our group.
|Restless Flycatcher hovering above grass looking for insect prey, this is typical foraging behaviour.|
|Looking at me!|
|Another location on fence, another angle, still looking for food.|