8 Mar 2018

White-spotted wintering in Saudi Arabia - Sabkhat Al Fasl

Whilst ringing at Sabkhat Al Fasl on Friday 23 February 2018 we caught a male White-spotted Bluethroat Luscinia svecica cyanecula which was a retrap of a bird caught earlier. The White-spotted Bluethroat is a scarce passage migrant to the region, unlike the Red-spotted Bluethroat Luscinia svecica svecica which winters in good numbers. This is only the fourth time we have caught this subspecies in Saudi Arabia. The White-spotted Bluethroat breeds locally in central & southern Europe wintering mainly in west & central Africa with a few in the Middle East (mainly Israel) and north-east Africa. Identification of the Bluethroat sub-species is very difficult unless you see a male in breeding plumage. As a result, many birds seen in the winter months are indeterminate as to sub-species so unless you re-catch a bird in the spring that was caught in the winter it is not generally possible to tell if White-spotted Bluethroats winter in Saudi Arabia. This White-spotted Bluethroat was originally trapped on 17 November 2017 but as the bird was not in breeding plumage it was not identified as a White Spotted Bluethroat. This shows that this bird has spent the winter in Saudi Arabia indicating that the subspecies winters in Saudi Arabia. We also caught a White-spotted Bluethroat in Bahrain in March that had originally been caught in the winter showing that birds also winter in Bahrain at least occasionally.
White Spotted Bluethroat

White Spotted Bluethroat

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