11 Jul 2018

Arabian Red-capped Lark – Talea Valley

Arabian Red-capped Lark Calandrella eremicais a scarce medium-sized lark that occurs in a very limited number of sites in southwest Saudi Arabia. It had not been seen for many years until recently when some birds were found at Azeeza near Abha. In 2015 Phil Roberts and I found a number of birds, probably more than ten, coming down to drink at a small area of water in a stony wadi, in the Talea Valley. Whilst walking around this same area in late June I found up to thirty birds feeding on the dry and stony landscape including both juveniles and adults. These birds would also come down to drink at the only know area for water for miles around. Birds are obvious when seen as the adults have a rufous crown and sometimes erect their crown feathers to form a prominent short crest. Birds occur mainly on open grassland and bare ground, including stony areas. Generally found in wadis with occasional bushes and scattered trees in Arabia where it occurs mainly between 1800–2500 metres. Previously the Arabian Red-capped Lark Calandrella eremicawas treated as conspecific with Blandford’s Lark C. blanfordi, but differs in its smaller size; lower rump and uppertail-coverts not (or only slightly) shaded rufous vs strongly rufous; much paler above, including colour of crown and shade of buff and brown streaking and colour of flight-feathers; greatly reduced dark markings on underparts (i.e. blackish half-collar much less obvious, breast and belly only lightly washed buff vs strongly washed rufous), so white of throat and supercilium far less striking; bill generally much paler. Two subspecies recognized C. e. eremica from southwest Saudi Arabia southwards to Yemen and C. e. daaroodensisfrom north-east Ethiopia and northern Somalia.
Arabian Red-capped Lark - Calandrella eremicais

Arabian Red-capped Lark - Calandrella eremicais

Arabian Red-capped Lark - Calandrella eremicais

Arabian Red-capped Lark - Calandrella eremicais

Arabian Red-capped Lark - Calandrella eremicais

Arabian Red-capped Lark - Calandrella eremicais

Arabian Red-capped Lark - Calandrella eremicais

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