This morning my friend Terry Heidenreich rang to ask if I was interested in a strange bird in his garden. Now, Terry is a very good birder so my system went to high alert.
He said it is a thrush or that type of bird, hops quickly across the ground and will sit still for some length of time. It appeared to be hunting for worms. When it flew into a tree he could not find it. He told me that the bird was the colour of a Bower's Shrike-thrush on the head but browner on the back. Terry spoke of a long white eyebrow and black whiskers edged with white. The throat is white but he thought the chin is black. He was confident it was not in his Australian or PNG field guides.
Despite not having eaten breakfast I jumped into the car and headed straight round.
Terry showed me where he had seen the bird a couple of times and I settled down to wait. I later went for a walk around his property and along the road checking out areas of similar length grass. Eventually I left birdless. Well not really but without having seen the target.
Terry rang a little later to say he had seen the bird in the same area again and that the bill sometimes looked yellow and sometimes yellow with a dark tip. Now he had seen the bird front on and the belly was white and the flanks were buff. Michelle, his wife told me the sides of the breast were yellow-brown. He saw the bird again in the afternoon so round I went yet again.
Going on Terry's description the best we could do was to consider Eyebrowed Thrush. This time I got glimpses of the bird as it hopped through ankle length grass on the edge of longer grass. It really did look like a small thrush. Although my views were really poor and my attempts to photograph the bird equally so I was able to confirm many of the field marks. When I saw it fly, I noticed that the under wings were uniformly pale except for a hint of darker edging to some feathers, the belly was white and the sides of the breast were a warm colour.
Having looked at pictures on the web I think there is a good chance that this is a first year male Eyebrowed Thrush.