Out since first thing under leaden skies and with a blustery north-easterly blowing, it looked like today's notebook entry for the morning circuit around the northern area would make for, well, very light reading; until this interesting little gem appeared that is, in the last few metres of habitat before the walk back through town.
A highlight in any circumstances (let alone with barely any other sign of migration evident), this stunning male 'Pied' Flycatcher was another timely reminder to keep the faith. Understandably elusive given the crappy conditions and often going awol for long periods, most locals nonetheless caught up with it subsequently as it kept its distance at the southern end of Parish Wood.
With just Frank, Mel and I left, it wasn't until the bird finally came low enough to briefly show its upperparts that alarm bells rang, however mutedly. While tracking the bird through the camera's viewfinder failed in getting a clear shot, it succeeded in revealing a surprisingly large, distinctly pale rump patch; in addition, from some angles a diffuse, encouragingly-shaped suggestion of a paler collar could be seen.
We continued to stay with the bird (at least, when it occasionally decided to show) in order to nail further plumage characteristics; possibilities were shuffled around and subdued hopes of something a little more special kept us on our toes (which were unseasonably cold by then).
Alas, most features fit with the initial ID, and the rump and collar problem, though intruiging, may remain just that; although if anyone who knows more wants to try and convince otherwise, I'd be more than happy to hear from them. It seems possible to us that the bird may harbour more than just hypoleuca genes, and thoughts are welcome.
Postscript - a few days on, the majority of opinions expressed from people better qualified than I go for hybrid Collared x Pied.