12 Apr 2016

Common Grasshopper Warbler – Nada Dairy Farm Hofuf

Whilst briding Nada Dairy Farm in Hofuf on 8 April 2016, I heard a reeling warbler in a large rough fodder field. The bird sounded like a Common Grasshopper Warbler and not like the more common Savi’s Warbler that also occurs in the region at this time of year. After some careful looking I saw the bird perched on a grass stem and then again in flight confirming its identification. The Common Grasshopper Warbler Locustella naevia is a rare passage migrant to the Eastern Province and central Saudi Arabia including the Riyadh area. Birds are seen during the migration season with most in March and April and again in September. I have seen two previous birds, a single at Dhahran on 1 April 2012 and one in a pivot irrigation field near Nayriyyah 14 March 2013. I also trapped and ringed a further one 27 March 2015 at Sabkhat Al Fasl. The subspecies trapped was one of the western races, either nominate Locustella naevia naevia or Locustella naevia obscurior due to the wing length of 64 with eastern birds having wing lengths of less than 60. Locustella naevia naevia breeds in Europe from southern Scandinavia and southern Finland south to Britain and Ireland, northwest Iberia, east to western European Russia and Ukraine and winters in west Africa whilst Locustella naevia obscurior breeds Caucasus mountains south to northeast Turkey and Armenia with non-breeding birds moving to northeast Africa. These birds have a darker colour than eastern birds that have a distinctly paler and more olive-grey ground-colour with L. n. obscurior differing from nominate naevia by being slightly more olive with heavier, blacker, and more contrasting spots on upperparts; feather-fringes more olive, less brown, sandy-grey rather than olive-brown when worn; flank more tinged rusty-cream (BWP).
Common Grasshopper Warbler

Common Grasshopper Warbler

1 comment:

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