An Unknown visitor

by Michael
(Roussilon, France)

Can anyone identify a bird I watched in my garden yesterday in the south of France, near the Spanish Mediterranean border (Occitanie). It was a strikingly-coloured bird that I had never seen before.

It was is a fairly uniform, opalescent, dark blue, almost navy with the general shape of a finch but slightly more rounded like a large wren. The beak was longer and narrower than a finch, more like a flycatcher. The plumage was smooth and slightly iridescent. The wings were very distinctive, each bearing about six silver bars placed dorsally across the back, (not lengthwise). There was also a slight flash of golden brown.

I first saw it perched on a trellis next to the terrace. It made no sound but every now and then bobbed up and down (dipper?). It then flew down to the ground and searched amongst pine bark chippings, pecking and bobbing at the same time. It next flew onto the casing of the terrace awning above me and I could hear it running along the six metre length. It flew back and perched on the trellis again for a minute or two and occasionally bobbed up and down.

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