27 May 2014

tschutshensis type or hybrid Yellow Wagtail – Sabkhat Al Fasl

I found a slightly unusual Yellow Wagtail at Sabkaht Al Fasl, Jubail on 16 May 2014 that had me scratching my head as to what exactly it was. It looked like a tschutshensis type? But the supercillium was yellow instead of the white I had expected, and was also not as obvious as I would have thought. As a result I started having thoughts it may be some sort of hybrid rather than a genuine tschutshensis and contacted Andrea Corso an expert in many things including Yellow Wagtails and received the following reply “The problem is that many hybrids of Western Palearctic flava ssp. produce offspring that are almost (or even totally) identical to this far eastern taxon. I have seen myself birds like it in Sicily, Israel, Sinai, Egypt and without sound recordings for sonograms or DNA I would not suggest to ever ID positively tschutshensis unless they are very typical fenotype with bright yellow supericlium, very dark ear-coverts and they sound like one also with sonograms etc. So, sure your bird is worthwhile studying and is very interesting but I am sorry I could not suggest to you any firm ID. To be honest I would prefer to think that it is an hybrid or one of those eastern populations of flava flava or a cinereocapilla x flava or other sort of hybrid”. I, like Andrea, prefer to leave these odd looking Yellow Wagtails unasigned but it is good fun trying to think what parentage they may have.