14 Mar 2012

Samamisicus Common Redstart - Dhahran Hills

I got down to the percolation pond and spray fields late yesterday as I was busy at work. On arriving at the pond there were few birds present although the Great Crested Grebe and Grey Heron were still present. A male Little Crake was feeding along one edge of the pond and a Spotted Crake was feeding in one of the wet corners, just outside the perimeter fence. This area also held 16 Common Chiffchaffs, one Bluethroat and a really smart Common Redstart of the sub-species samamisicus whihc is often known as 'Ehrenberg's Redstart'. This sub-species breeds in the southern Balkans and Greece east to Turkmenistan, south Uzbekistan and Iran and winter in north-east Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. They are slightly greyer and darker above, with a large white wing patch, which can be variable in size. The light was poor so I did not get a good photograph but you can see how really smart and different this sub-species looks to the normal Common Redstart. There have been about four different adult male samamisicus Common Redstarts about this week with the first bird seen on the 10th March. Below are two different birds seen on two separate days, unfortunately both were seen laste in the evening so the phtos are not so great.
Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus samamisicus) - Adult male
Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus samamisicus) - Adult male

A walk around the spray fields produced three Woodchat Shrikes, one Turkestan Shrike, three Isabelline Wheatear, one female Northern Wheatear, one common Kestrel, one Rufous-tailed Scrub Robin and a female Siberian Stonechat. As evening drew in a large gathering of Swifts were seen over the pond including at least 70 Pallid Swift and 30+ Common Swift.

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