05 May 2016

Kerelini type hybrid shrike? – Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area I found an interesting looking ‘kerelini’ type shrike. Unfortunately once I saw it I grabbed two photos and then it flew off and although I saw wher it landed I could not relocate it despite extensive searching. The problem with my below photos is that the lighting is very strong from one side (the right), which is burning out the underparts to some extent while the upperparts are in shadow, which suppresses the true colours. Alan Dean who’s opinion was sought on this bird mentioned “While the images have a rather ‘karelini’ look at first sight I have some reservations that this might be a photographic artefact. There is quite a rich pinky-peach hue on the less brightly illuminated rear flanks. This does not match a classic karelini but, also, I wonder whether this colour may in fact have extended further across the underparts but has been ‘burnt out’ by the bright light. A further concern is the level of black apparently displayed in the tail. Again, to what extent this is real or a result of heavy shadow supressing rufous/russet, is difficult to judge. Finally, there is virtually no supercilium at all. Some of these features tend to raise thoughts of hybrid influence from collurio and there is something about the appearance of the originals that somehow ‘ghosts’ this species to my mind. Overall, however, I find it impossible to decide what is ‘real’ and what is photographic artefact, so I wouldn’t put a firm diagnosis on this individual. My gut instinct is towards a hybrid but that’s very tentative”. Brian Small who also helped with the identification said “Alan has summed up the salient features of the first bird nicely and the possibilities, but I would fall on the side of it being a karelini”. The shirkes we get in Saudi Arabia are variable in plumage and contain many hybid type birds making conclusive identification of many unwise.