30 November 2015

A few birds from Bahrain - Bird records by Jehad AlAmmadi

Jehad AlAmmadi is a birdwatcher from Bahrain and he occasionally sends me details of birds he has seen in Bahrain. Recently Jehad sent a number of photographs of birds he has seen in the last couple of weeks including photos of female Northern Pintail, a species that has also been seen in the nearby Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia in recent weeks. Other birds photographed included a female/immature Pallid Harrier and a couple of Stonechats including what appears to be a European Stonechat and a Northern Caspian. The latest data on the Stonechat Saxicola torquatus has found convincing reasons for recognising three species: European Stonechat S. rubicola, Eastern Stonechat S. Maurus and African Stonechat S. torqatus. The taxa breeding in the Caspian region, both of which winter in Saudi Arabia, were revisited and after studying the type description and various museum specimens it was concluded that the name variegatus should not be applied to the taxon breeding north of the Caucasus but rather to the population in eastern Turkey and Transcaucasia presently named armenicus. This means the former variegatus, northern Caspian population, needed a new name with hemprichii being the oldest available and valid name for the population. The paper also called hemprichii (formerly variegatus) North Caspian Taxon (NCT) and variegatus (formerly armenicus) South Caspian Taxon (SCT). The northern population NCT has a very characteristic male plumage with white portions on each side of the outer tail extending to half to three-quarters of the tail feather length, similar to many Wheatears and Red-backed Shrike. This can be seen easily when perched birds spread their tail or when birds fly but on perched birds with tails closed it can often not be seen. NCT also has a large unstreaked pale rump patch, buffish when fresh becoming white when abraded. In comparison European Stonechat has a streaked rump with usually limited white.