23 December 2013

First calendar year Citrine Wagtail – Sabkhat Al Fasl

Whilst birding at Sabkhat Al Fasl in mid-November I can across a Citrine Wagtial Motacilla citreola. This species is a scarce winter visitor to the Eastern province with most birds seen at either Dhahran or Sabkhat Al Fasl probably because these are the better-watched sites in the region. Elsewhere in Saudi Arabia it is also a scarce winter visitor with records of summer plumage adults seen in late March but the majority of birds are first winters seen in August to October. This bird was very confiding and came so close to the car that I could not focus my big 600mm lens on it. It was using the car to gain some shade whilst catching small insects. It spent most of its time feeding around the edges of the concrete supports to the newly erected electricity pylons but was in shade most of the time. As it was actively feeding it was constantly on the move and proved quite difficult to photograph, but eventually after some time I did manage to get a couple of reasonable shots, shown below. These are my best photos of the species so far in Saudi Arabia of Citrine Wagtail and made a very nice end to a good days birding at the site.

The bird is a first calendar year female in winter plumage with the bottom photograph a first winter bird I photographed in August 2012 in Dhahran to show the difference in plumage between this bird and a typical first winter.