29 Mar 2012

Various Yellow Wagtail Sub-species - Sabkhat Al Fasl

Whilst birding at Sabkhat Al Fasl I came across a large group of White and Yellow Wagtails. At first light there were about 30 White Wagtails and 20 Yellow Wagtails but as I spent a hour or so looking at them all tying to work out what Sub-species were involved the numbers built up to about 40 White Wagtails and 60 Yellow Wagtails. Most birds were adults in full breeding plumage and they were actively feeding on small insects on the ground and were busy running around most of the time. The majority of birds were Black-headed Wagtails of the race Motacilla flava feldegg which are the most southerly breeding birds seen in Saudi Arabia breeding from the Balkan countries, through Turkey to eastern Kazakhstan. There were at least 20 males in the group.
 Black-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava feldegg)
Black-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava feldegg)

The next most common birds were Sykes's Wagtail Motacilla flava beema, from the northern Kirghiz steppes, which numbered only four males of which three of them are shown in the photographs below.
Finally there was a single male Motacilla flava superciliaris from south-east Russia which is a hybrid between Black-headed Wagtail (feldegg) and Sykes's Wagtail (beema) or Blue-headed Wagtail (flava). These birds are the least common Yellow Wagtails along with Yellow-headed Wagtail (lutea) in the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

 Sykes's Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava beema)
 Sykes's Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava beema)
Sykes's Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava beema)

 Superciliosus Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava feldegg x beema)

A number of females were present but it is difficult to assign race to these birds but here is a photograph of two of them to compare with the brighter coloured males. The first female is probably a female Black-headed Wagtail (feldegg) but the other female is much more difficult to assign to race.
 Black-headed Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava feldegg) - female
Flava Yellow Wagtail - female


As mentioned White Wagtails were present in good numbers with wintering bids moving off and newly arrived spring migrants passing through. The final species of wagtail seen was Grey Wagtail with three different birds seen at various places on the site. These are a passage migrant through Jubail and there have been good numbers this spring compared to last year.
 White Wagtail
 Grey Wagtail
Grey Wagtail

1 comment:

  1. Smart birds - I shall hopefully being seeing Moroccan Pied Wagtail shortly and lots of 'iberiae' yellows......

    Laurie -

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