01 February 2022

Caspian Stonechat – Dhahran Hills

Today I found a male Caspian Stonechat Saxicola maurus hemprichii in the scrubby area near to the new Dhahran Lake. The male Caspian Stonechat has a very characteristic plumage with extensive white portions on each side of the inner tail (between half and three-quarters of the outer tail feathers white), not unlike the pattern in many wheatears or male Red-backed Shrike Lanius collurio. This is easily seen on a flying bird but can be more difficult to confirm on perched birds with closed tails. Caspian Stonechat is an uncommon winter visitor to the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. The pale colouration and extensive white in the tail of male birds, looking like a Northern Wheatear at times, makes for certain identification. The bird was busy feeding and not too worried about my presence, as I was on foot and I managed to take some good photos of the bird, one showing the tail pattern quite nicely.