Friday the 13th didn't turn out to be that bad after all. Having tried for the long staying Nutting's Flycatcher the previous evening, my group and I felt well rested and energized for another attempt the following morning. Despite being an ABA Code 5 (no less!), only a handful of birders were present at the scene but included Massachusetts stalwart and trip leader Bill Drummond, and his wife Barbara. After about an hour of waiting patiently and enjoying some of the local birds (Canyon Wren, Crissal Thrasher and Phainopepla), both Barbara and I independently heard a single, drawn out 'wheeep' call, quite loud and strident and undoubtedly the Nutting's. We signaled to all the birders down the road to come and join us. Anxious moments followed without so much of a 'sniff' of a visual. Then the bird called again, this time very close to the assembled birders. It wasn't long before one of our party, Sue Milks, detected the flycatcher in a Palo Verde before it dropped quickly out of sight to feed very low in the understorey. From here, after some initial, frustrating and mostly obscured views we were treated to superb looks and vocals for the next 45 minutes. Such prolonged observations seemed totally justified for a species that offers so many identification challenges in the US, most often compared with Ash-throated Flycatcher. It was also a rare moment for me - a life bird on a US tour! Moreover, it was a bird to enjoy in a completely beautiful place - the Bill Williams NWR right on the fringe of a major riparian area in the middle of some fairly harsh desert. All in all, a glorious morning and one to remember.
As always on such occasions, gracious thanks to the original finders, David Vander Pluym and Lauren Harter who initially detected this bird (by call) back on December 18th, 2011.
All pics taken with a Panasonic Lumix FZ40;