Siberian flycatcher in LA!

Last week the birding world was rocked by the news of a code 4 female Old World flycatcher (Red-flanked Bluetail) inhabiting an enclosed library courtyard at UCLA. Lucky me, I was already booked on a Sunday flight to Los Angeles for work! Truth be told, I had never even heard of this mega-rarity until an Idaho birder reported one two years ago. They winter in Asia, the Himalayas and Indochina! As I approach 800 lifetime ABA Area (USA and Canada) birds….this one was definitely NOT on my hit list.

The LA Times ran an article on Saturday about the masses of birders descending on this oasis in the city and the difficulty people had seeing (much less photographing) this skittish thrush-like creature. A winter downpour commenced at 5 this morning and continued past dawn. The crap weather did not temper my excitement but did force me to buy a cheap umbrella and a lousy poncho at a CVS.

I showed up an hour earlier than the posted public’s 9am opening time and snuck into the grounds behind an employee with the magic gate-opening swipy card. But as the big metal gate shut me in to the several acre William Andrews Clark Library grounds, I had a slight panic that maybe I would not find a five (5) inch bird in a much bigger area than I anticipated….in such a downpour

Consistent sightings were reported near a ficus tree and a u-shaped hedge. A what, where? Damn, I couldn’t get cell service to even google a ficus tree. Thankfully, after an hour, I was joined by retired police officer “Jim” who had flown home to SF from Argentina yesterday and then driven all night to chase this bird. He knew exactly where we should look. Within minutes an “LBJ” (little brown job) flashed in front of us and posed on a (ficus?) branch. The orange-red flank and iridescent blue tail were evident…even in the rain.

Red-flanked Bluetail (LA)

About George C. Wood

A birder since age ten, but not necessarily an avid "lister", I am closing in on 700 (*800!) species seen in North America.....hoping to capture each sighting with my camera.
This entry was posted in Quest for 700 (*800!). Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Siberian flycatcher in LA!

  1. Jeffrey Dingle says:

    Damn – you know how to find ‘em. Where and when!

    Mike says you may be passing through the Bayview Boat Club on Thursday. Who, ha!

    I will try and get Liza – move to SF in October – and boyfriend Nick to come over. She’s in Dallas every week from Monday through Thursday afternoon on Southwest airlines project but should be back in SF by seven or 8 o’clock.

    Wish I could be there!

    BTW. Overlapped with Mike last week visiting dad in Long Island. Mike was still at Haverford for one year with Hickenlooper – eighth grade. What’s the latest on his presidential aspirations?. Mike said if he does run, Groverman would be very involved in the campaign. You may or may not know that Groverman is truly Mike’s oldest and bestest friend. When he’s in Philly, he usually stays with him.


    PS. Dovekie is a lifer! #209? 217? 193?… Was driving across the causeway from Marblehead Neck back home and looked over the harbor and saw it and that’s what popped in my mind that it might be. So turned around and came back and popped out the Bino’s. Yeah I think that’s what it was

    Sent from myPhone


  2. says:

    Nice GW

    Dan Miller 610-389-4792

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Joe Weisbord says:

    Amazing bird! Congrats!

  4. Andrew Mozino says:

    George. Nice sponsor. Holy …..

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. Scott Tuttle says:

    What a great way to start the year. Congratulations! Keep’em coming

  6. rpschnaars says:

    Congrats GW.   A great thing my friend. Rock

    Sent from my Verizon, Samsung Galaxy smartphone

  7. Steve Stuart AOL says:


    Sent from my iPhone


  8. Joe K says:

    Incredible! And the excitement is palpable! Thanks much for taking us all on these excursions with you, George. And I assume all of us devoted blog readers will get the invite celebrating #800?!

  9. Hiya Joe! 800 in “relative” sight. Looking forward to our Civil Rights tour in March.

  10. Mace says:

    Looks like 2019 is going to be a VERY BIG YEAR. Great work, George!

  11. chasscrew says:


    Really enjoy reading these blogs! Baird and I would love to see you and Nina. Let us know if you have a free night soon!

    Cheers, Anne

    Anne Standish


  12. Jeff Watkinson says:

    Nice catch GW

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