Thursday, 8 September 2016

Shining Flycatchers

Shining Flycatchers are common in Top End riparian vegetation and mangroves. They are usually found over or beside water. From my experience they are most often found in male/female pairs. The male is more shy than the female and at times both can be hard to approach, while at other times they can be quite confiding.

The male is described in Pizzey & Knight as being “entirely glossy jet-black” and in the shade this is the case.  However when seen in sunlight they can look blue as the following two photos show.

Male Shining Flycatcher. Note it is black where shaded and blue in the sun. Note also the crown feathers are raised in a small crest. Other flycatchers also do this.

This male is displaying to a female which is perched above, just out of the frame of this photo.

We were birding on the East Alligator River near Cooinda in Kakadu National Park when the male above and a female caught our attention as they foraged in Pandanus and other fringing vegetation dominated by huge paperbarks, in the area shown in the next photo.

East Alligator River Kakadu NP. It is wise in areas like this to keep several metres back from the water’s edge as very large Estuarine Crocodiles inhabit this river (and most other Top End rivers).

While we watched the pair the female took a bath in a shallow pool with sun beaming down through a gap in the foliage above.

The female Shining Flycatcher is a strikingly coloured bird with a glossy black crown and nape, rich chestnut upperparts and white below.
She made a number of quick dives into the water and returned to the same perch each time to flick water off before the next brief immersion. The small drops of water catch the sunlight and are sharp at a shutter speed of 1/1600 of a second.

This photo catches her returning to the perch.

She is about to fly down for another quick dip.

The bathing is over and she departs to preen in a less exposed and safer spot.

For me, encountering flycatchers of any species is always special. However Shining Flycatchers will always bring back fond memories of the Top End.

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