Thursday, November 3, 2011

Casucasian Stonechats

This morning I had a good ringing session at my local alfalfa field near Bet Kama, with Eyal and Re'a. We had a good catch that consisted mainly pipits (red-throats, coutelii water and meadow). In addition we caught two Caucasian Stonechats, that are good birds for this region. In the NE Valleys (Hula and Bet She'an) and at Eilat one can see on a good day this time of year 15-20 individuals or even more. The male was a classic variegatus, with more than half of each tail feather is white.

Caucasian Stonechat Saxicola maurus variegatus - male

Females are much more tricky. In the field, the tail of this individual would look completely dark, and would be identified as maurus. However, when the uppertail coverts are moved aside, the white bases to the rectrices (about 10 mm) become visible. This of course is impossible to see in the field. This female seems to fit variegatus too; I'd expect armenicus to have less or no white at the bases of the rectrices.
For this reason I believe that many of the European records of 'maurus' females in fact involve variegatus. It would be interesting to compare the ratio of variegatus VS. maurus records in W Europe for males and females.

Caucasian Stonechat Saxicola maurus variegatus - female

"Field" views - all dark tail:

White bases to rectrices revealed:
Water Pipit Anthus spinoletta coutelii
Eurasian Skylark
Other good birds seen in the field were 1 Oriental Skylark, 1 Merlin and 1 Peregrine.
Many thanks to Eyal and Re'a.

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