30 October 2016

First winter White Wagtails – Jubail

Whilst birding the Jubail area on 21 October I came across the first winter White Wagtails for me. Birds will arrive in good numbers in the next few weeks and stay for the winter. White Wagtail records occur from Mid-September to April with the majority of birds arriving in October and only occasional records in May and early September. They are most commonly seen around settlements, near pools, ponds, sewage works and in cultivated wet fields. Peak counts include 700 at Abqaiq lagoons March 1976 and 600 in February 1977 which were thought to be migrants mainly of the race Motacilla alba dukhunensis. Geographical variation is marked and complex with widespread intergradation occurring where races meet. There is a possibility that M. a. dukhunensis may be only an inter-racial hybrid, perhaps better included within nominate Motacilla alba alba. Two races occur in the Eastern Province Motacilla alba alba which breeds in south-east Greenland, Iceland, Faeroe Islands and throughout continental Europe (has bred Britain and Ireland) east to the Urals, Turkey and Levant; winters in southern part of range and south to west & east Africa, Arabia and south-west Asia. Motacilla alba dukhunensis breeds from central Russia (Ural Monutains east to Taymyr Peninsula) south to Caucasus, north-west Iran, Kyrgyz Steppes and the foothills of the Altai Mountains; winters Middle East eastwards to the Indian Subcontinent.