20 Feb 2017

Caspian Stonechat - Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area I noticed an interesting looking Stonechat in the reed bed edge. Unfortunately it flew off and I could not relocate it. I went back to the location where I had seen the bird at the end of my birding and luckily saw the bird again in the reeds and then on the ground and managed to get a few photos of it. I could see that the bird had a lot of white in the tail when it flicked it, which it did on a regular basis. With a tail pattern like this the bird was obviously a Saxicola maurus hemprichii  or Caspian Stonechat also known as North Caspian Taxon (NCT). The northern population has a very characteristic male plumage with extensive white portions on each side of the inner tail (between half and three-quarters of the outer tail feathers white), not unlike the pattern in many wheatears or male Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio. This can be seen on one of the below photos and can easily be seen on a flying bird, but can be more difficult to confirm on perched birds with closed tails. The amount of white in the tail on males is subject to a subtle cline; at its maximum in the Volga Delta region, becoming slightly more restricted in the south. Both sexes resemble nominate maurus from further east and north in that they have a large unstreaked pale rump patch, buffish when fresh, white when abraded and bleached. In comparison, European Stonechat S. rubicola has a streaked rump with usually limited white. The hemprichii male has a concentrated red-brown chest patch and a large white patch on the neck-sides, again more like nominate maurus and different from most rubicola which again can be seen on the photographs below. The bird remained in the same place for at least two weeks.
Saxicola torquatus variegatus

Saxicola torquatus variegatus

Saxicola torquatus variegatus

Saxicola torquatus variegatus

Saxicola torquatus variegatus

Saxicola torquatus variegatus





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