10 Jan 2014

NCT Caspian & Common Stonechats – Sabkhat Al Fasl

Whilst birding at Sabkhat Al Fasl last weekend I saw a good number of wintering Stonechats. Most were NCT Caspian Stonechats (Eastern Siberian Stonechat) but I also saw a single male Common Stonechat. Both these species winter in Saudi Arabia with Common Stonechat much scarcer in the Eastern Province than Caspian Stonechat. The male Stonechats add a splash of colour to the drab winter scenery of many of the areas I bird and trying to work out what species or sub-species you are looking at adds a challenge to birding. The status of Common Stonechat is not very well know as all old data includes Siberian Stonechat with Common Stonechat under one species as they were previously regarded as the same species. Since I have been in Saudi Arabia, at least in the Eastern Province it is clear then Siberian Stonechat maura is an uncommon passage migrant and uncommon winter visitor, varigatus also has the same status but is less common on passage migrant and more common in winter. Common Stonechat appears to be a scarce passage and winter visitor but more data needs collecting on its status.
Common Stonechat - male
Common Stonechat - male
Common Stonechat - male
North Caspian Taxon Stonechat - male
North Caspian Taxon Stonechat - male
North Caspian Taxon Stonechat - male

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