Sunday, 22 April 2012

Flava fever

Yep, you guessed it. Back to Egypt considering all this cold weather, lack of migrants and the added frustration today that I was hemmed in by the London Marathon. I did receive info on one of the Black-tailed Godwits though (the bird in the photo on yesterday's posting, left leg, green and right leg, yellow over blue - ringed as an adult male at Farlington, Hants in Sept 2010, seen in May 2011 at Kuiabol, northern Iceland before being back at Farlington on 22nd August.

Now onto to the wagtails in Egypt. These birds were absolutely everywhere on the Red Sea coast, and the variation in flava wagtails was immense. I'll start with an obvious one, a nice 1st-summer male Citrine Wagtail of the nominate race citreola taken at Shams Alam on 7th April 2012. Interesting reading about a possible werae in Israel here and for something that bit more special have a look at this link for fantastic images of what is probably the first calcarata in the WP.

Right now for some rather interesting flava wagtails. First a straightforward one, a classic male feldegg - Black-headed Wagtail. Wholly yellow throat, nice black unmarked head. Those special guys at the BBRC would be happy with these two: -

Then things get more messy. Anyone remember the Maylandsea, Essex male from 1999? Well, that bird was rejected despite being well twitched due to an asymmetrical pale mark within its black head. I imagine this bird would not make the grade either, though presumably it'll be on its way to Romania or somewhere in the Balkans: -
And then note the whitish base to the bill on this bird. Presumably within range for feldegg, though the doubters would be out if it turned up over here: -
Now for some less clear cut birds: -
Could easily be passed over as a flava though the split supercilium and darkness, particularly on the ear-coverts, would suggest influence from elsewhere. Its call was remarkably similar to a nearby feldegg...
A properly smart bird, a male 'superciliaris' - a pretty obvious feldegg x flava/beema intergrade
Obviously, you have to speculate somewhat with these intergrades - putting square pegs into round holes - and the amount of birds that didn't fit the bill as either a regular feldegg or flava in Egypt was pretty high. And throw in a few thunbergi too, and the whole flava complex is to coin a phrase, a minefield. Interesting though.

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