phil Pryde

Monday morning report (and please  read the bottom section labelled "Suggestion").   

     Several birders (including Gary) spent time at Fort Rosecrans Nat'l Cemetery (FRNC) this morning looking for the Blue-headed Vireo reported yesterday, without success, at least as of about quarter to ten when I departed. 

     However, I did encounter an empidonax that after checking every field guide I own, I have to lean strongly towards feeling it was a Least Flycatcher.  It had a strong eye ring, somewhat shortish bill, short primary projection (I think), and flicked its tail upward frequently.  Most important, it was almost pure white from chin to undertail coverts, except for duskyness around the shoulder area.  The under-chin area was especially bright white.  Both Peterson and Nat. Geog. depict a LEFL that looks almost identical to the bird I was watching (Sibley painted it grayer around the throat). This individual had not a trace of yellowish tint anywhere on the underside.  NOTE:  By coincidence, Gary and I ran into one another near the maybe-LEFL location and an empidonax flew out which Gary ID'd as a Pac-Slope, and I agreed it didn't look like the individual I had seen earlier, so there may be > one empidonax in the vicinity.  
     Location of this sighting:  SE quadrant of FRNC, on the eastern fence of the cemetery, about 50 yards south of the open-sided pointed roof pavilion, near the top of a small rise where some dense larger bushes come close to the fence.  I have little eyeball experience with LEFLs, and so won't guarantee that was what it was, but I encourage those with more experience and maybe a giant camera to check out the area. 

      SUGGESTION (especially for birders not familiar with FRNC):   A recent comment noted the frequent difficulty of knowing where a bird is within FRNC based on the often vague or imprecise descriptions given.  This is a problem that doesn't need to exist, given how easy it is to give a very accurate location for birds seen in FRNC (and, no, I don't mean geographic coordinates).  Most reports do give the 1/4 of the cemetery where the sighting occurred (NE, SW, etc.) which is an excellent way to start.  But maybe it isn't widely known that FRNC is broken down into sub-areas which have either a one-letter or two-letter designation (for, example, both the BHVI and the Magnolia Warbler reported earlier today were seen in area AG of the cemetery.  
      But you can make it even more precise, because every headstone has a precise subarea and number on the back side of the headstone.  Thus, the Blue-headed Vireo was seen yesterday in the tree beside headstone AG-681.  This will also help you learn where the Chinese Elm is!  There are 3 smaller Chinese Elms to the west of the big one, and the Magnolia Warbler was in the southernmost of the three trees, and so could be described with pinpoint accuracy as being at:  FRNC, SE 1/4, Sect. AG, in Chinese Elm near headstone AG 9.  
      I would encourage everyone reporting sightings from FRNC to utilize this simple method to make everyone's task easier at finding the bird (or at least knowing where to start).  

Phil Pryde 
San Diego 

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