Showing posts with label White-crowned Wheatear. Show all posts
Showing posts with label White-crowned Wheatear. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

More images of the wheatear

More images of the wheatear found yesterday by Uri Makover - these are his images too.
In these images the rump pattern and wing structure are better seen.

It is worth noting that range-wise, White-crowned breeds the closest of all four 'black' whetears - perhaps only 100 KM south. We have previuos records of birds wondering away from their breeding range in winter. All three other forms (Basalt, Black and variable) are extreme vagrants in Israel, and all were recorded in winter.

Shirihai in his 'Fifty New Species' article in Sandgrouse 21 (1999) gives a brief but important summary on the ID of picata in Israeli context. It is an important reference for this matter.

This bird is not a Basalt Wheatear - Uri didn't manage to get images of the bird in flight but he noted that it did not have the pale remiges typical for lugens. Further, adult Basalt Wheatear shows fine pale tips to the primary coverts. I am not sure about the age of this bird - the remiges seen quite brownish so it might be a 2cy, but nevertheless these pale tips are not visible on this bird. Also the white lower belly is clearly demarcated from the black, while in most basalt the black merges into the white.

It is agreed by most people who sent me their views that it is not a leucura, based on structure (head, bill and primary projection).

Even though Svensson mentions that some yound white-crowns may show a complete tail band, this tail band seems too massive to fit leucopyga. Is that true? However, there are a few tiny white feathers above the eye on the right side of the head - a bit worrying....

So what about picata? I have no relevant experience, and the literature on ophistoleuca is pretty limited. However, I and can't find anything in this bird that doesn't fit picata.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Nothing I enjoy more than dipping on a mega and getting soaked

What a useless day...
I began the day with a short seawatching session at Jaffa, following last nights' storm. I met Barak and together we wasted our time watching an empty Mediterranean. Before I arrived Barak had one Yelkouan and one Gannet, and after I arrived I contributed hugely to the scientific knowledge on our planet by finding another Gannet.

When I got to the office I got a call from Uri Makover. He had a funny 'black' wheatear in the north. I was busy and asked him the wrong questions, and got to the conclusion it was most probably an out-of-range White-crowned Wheatear.
Later Uri sent me images, and I wanted to shoot myself in the head! I called Uri and he told me the bird had a nice T tail band (eliminating white-crowned) and no white wing panel (eliminating 'Basalt' Wheatear). Half crying I ran to the car and made my way up north in the speed of light, while risking my marriage even more than ever. After a sunny morning, the weather deteriorated as I drove north, and when I got to the site at Kfar Baruch reservoir I felt like I was in bloody Europe - cold, windy and very very wet.
I met up with Uri and Shai and we started to look for the fXXXing bird which did not show. I don't know whether it moved somewhere or whether the weather was just too bad, but I had very little time and had to give it up. So after getting gloriously wet, I got back into the car and drove back home, defeated and tired.
I hope the other guys have better luck tomorrow, and that the bird sticks around long enough for a revenge...

This is a very interesting bird. We are left with Black O. leucura and Variable Wheatear O. picata (both with a single record, both Eilat 1982). Uri described the bird as not being especially big and bulky, and it does not look like that in the images - pro picata. But the brownish tones and the large white belly are better for leucura. I have no experience with leucura, and have seen picata in India in 1999, so if anyone out there has some useful comments on the ID of this bird, I'd be very interested to know.
These images were taken Uri Makover - thanks Uri for the images, and of course for this mega find!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Judean Desert

Yesterday (27/12/09) I had a meeting at Neot Hakikar, so I took the morning to check Wadi Mishmar in the Judean Desert. I primarily went to check whether the Kurdish Wheatear that took up a territory there last winter had returned, but there was no sign of it. Actually there was nothing unusual, the only birds of note were 2 Spectacled Warblers, 1 Cyprus Warbler heard, and several Trumpeter Finches. So I had some time to study and photograph the common desert species. This Blackstart was very cooperative:

Of course many Tristram's Starlings were hanging around the car park, waiting for leftovers. this is a female:

As I got my breakfast out, these inquisitive Arabian Babblers came to check me out. This is a male with a juvenile. They actually had some luck with a piece of bread I dropped on the ground.

Other birds of this group went for the traditional desert cuisine - grub a-la-acacia.

And after food it's time for some social interaction. This one is for Amotz Zahavi:

After I walked away from my car, the whole group went to check it out:

This Desert Lark was nicely back-lit:

And this is a badly-exposed image of a white-crowned Wheatear in the strong desert light: