On September 12, about two months ago, I was birding at Laudholm Farm in Wells, Maine, an amazing forest, meadow, salt marsh and ocean preserve.
A robin sized bird flew in front of me. Grayish/black with a white ring around the eye . . . it disappeared into a thicket and I could not find it again. Frankly I had no idea what I had just seen.
On my iPhone, I was running Merlin, a free app that uses artificial intelligence to pick out bird sounds and identify the species. It is not always accurate but often finds a bird that one has over looked.
Anyway, I looked at Merlin and it had picked out the obvious Robins, Chickadees and Blue Jays, but it also had registered a Townsend’s Solitaire . . . a thrush of the American West . . . often at high elevation. I had never seen one and but it is grayish/black with a white ring around the eye.
I called one of the State’s foremost birders, and he suggested that while a single Townsend’s Solitaires shows up in Maine every five years or so . . . it is generally later in the fall when they are migrating.
My sighting was iffy at best and the Merlin app can make mistakes (although it has never reported a Townsend’s Solitaire before or since), so I decided my grayish/black bird with a white ring around the eye would remain a mystery.
This weekend, an actual Townsend’s Solitaire was reported at Laudholm Farm and this morning I went down and saw it.
Was this the bird I saw in September and had it been foraging undetected for the two months? I guess we will never know.