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Old Thursday 9th November 2017, 08:46   #1
andyb39
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Wheatear, UAE

This bird was photographed by a member of the UAE Bird Photographers' Facebook page. I put it on the UAE forum on his behalf but got no response.

It's seriously puzzling me as I've never seen anything like it before. The pale collar and rather streaked/scaled upperparts recall some form of Stonechat, but the proportions are wrong, bill and primary projection are too long and the tail pattern (inverted T) is that of a Wheatear. But I've never seen a Wheatear looking like this.

Any thoughts would be welcome.

Andrew
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Old Thursday 9th November 2017, 08:58   #2
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I'm not sure this is a female Northern Wheatear or a female Black-eared Wheatear. I've only seen Eastern Northern Wheatears in Greece, but they look quite the same way. They can get very pale. However, I find this individual looking quite delicate compared to the sometimes sturdy Northern Wheatears.
I can't rule out either of them, but it's a start.
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Old Thursday 9th November 2017, 12:00   #3
Bryon Wright
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Hi Andy and nbalblas,
we used to be very lax with these in years past for obvious reasons. Would suggest black-eared wheatear rather than a pied derivative and it is not necessarily of hybrid stock. Are those primary coverts really this pale in life? Think you more than most can offer a better solution with your forensic determinism!
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Old Thursday 9th November 2017, 12:55   #4
Grahame Walbridge
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Why not a 1st-w female Pied? The pale collar and apparently solidly pale pc's are exaggerated, the pc's have pale fringes.

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Last edited by Grahame Walbridge : Thursday 9th November 2017 at 12:58.
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Old Thursday 9th November 2017, 13:34   #5
nbalblas
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Never seen a Pied, so I can't give my opinion on that one..
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Old Thursday 9th November 2017, 19:16   #6
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Agree with Graham.

The blotched upperparts, and scaly scapulars too are clinchers for this smaller, delicately built Pied Wheatear.

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Old Friday 10th November 2017, 11:49   #7
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Hi all,
still do not think these are vittata, pied wheatear. Suggest Andy would need to eliminate the eastern type of black-eared wheatear with the males being black and white and some with a black throat. Some have illustrated twenty variants of western, black-eared, and still counting, presumably Eastern goes through similar plumage stages. Working on the assumption that Andy sees pied, pied vittata and perhaps even Cyprus Pied regularly in the autumn.
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Old Friday 10th November 2017, 11:55   #8
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I have to agree with Peter and Graham, the upperparts say Pied Wheatear to me too (although it looks a particularly 'cute' specimen).
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Old Friday 10th November 2017, 12:23   #9
Grahame Walbridge
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryon Wright View Post
Hi all,
still do not think these are vittata, pied wheatear. Suggest Andy would need to eliminate the eastern type of black-eared wheatear with the males being black and white and some with a black throat. Some have illustrated twenty variants of western, black-eared, and still counting, presumably Eastern goes through similar plumage stages. Working on the assumption that Andy sees pied, pied vittata and perhaps even Cyprus Pied regularly in the autumn.
Clearly not a vittata Pied http://www.uaebirding.com/forum/show...tear-in-autumn and EBW lacks the dark centres to the mantle creating the 'blotched' upper parts.

It looks like a perfectly normal Pied, give or take some photographic effect.

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Old Friday 10th November 2017, 12:39   #10
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In case someone is not aware of the admittedly a little outdated DB-Article dealing with the very problem, here's the link

Says additional to already mentioned features that when pp is rather long (which it is IMO), it supports Pied.
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Old Friday 10th November 2017, 17:03   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryon Wright View Post
Think you more than most can offer a better solution with your forensic determinism!
Hardly. Actually I find Wheatears, particularly in autumn, quite difficult. I remember giving up at Cape Kaliakra in Bulgaria one day.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryon Wright View Post
Working on the assumption that Andy sees pied, pied vittata and perhaps even Cyprus Pied regularly in the autumn.
We do see plenty of Pied in spring and autumn. Vittata is quite scarce. There are no confirmed records of Cyprus Pied here and I've only seen it on Cyprus.
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Old Saturday 11th November 2017, 02:00   #12
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Thank you to all for posting your thoughts on this Wheatear. I've since cropped and adjusted the images (attached) but the bird still looks unusual. I agree that it must be some form of Pied for the reasons given above, and I'd since come to that conclusion myself. It's just that I'm used to seeing Pied Wheatears like the one in the third image - rather dusky-looking, especially on the throat and upper breast. It's strange for a Pied to show a pronounced super, a pale collar and apparently white throat, not to mention these contrasting wing markings.

My interest in the bird in these images stems partly from some images of an unusually pale Pied posted on the UAE forum, which I thought might be vittata:

http://www.uaebirding.com/forum/atta...1&d=1508773768
http://www.uaebirding.com/forum/atta...2&d=1508773803

I was told that "I think this is no problem for a Pied Wheatear, albeit one slightly pale underneath. The darkness on the throat is obscured by the pale fringes on fresh feathers (these will wear off by spring to give a much darker, smudgier effect)".

Vittata was suggested for this bird instead:

http://www.uaebirding.com/forum/atta...6&d=1509386998
http://www.uaebirding.com/forum/atta...7&d=1509387024

Looking at some vittata images, the bird in the original images looks rather like image 19 on the page below - it has similar striking wing markings. However, that bird has a blacker mask and a "neck strap" linking it to the shoulder. So I'm still puzzled.

https://www.smugmug.com/gallery/n-H48SV/i-cs9PkmK

Bryon, check out image 13. It would be easy to pass that one off as Eastern Black-eared.
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Last edited by andyb39 : Saturday 11th November 2017 at 17:14.
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Old Saturday 11th November 2017, 14:19   #13
Bryon Wright
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Hi Andy,
are you saying you do not see big numbers with all the variations as in years passed? Also most of your pics of pale pied do show the classic crescentic mottling of pied wheatear.
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Old Saturday 11th November 2017, 16:50   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andyb39 View Post

Looking at some vittata images, the bird in the original images looks rather like image 19 on the page below - it has similar striking wing markings. However, that bird has a blacker mask and a "neck strap" linking it to the shoulder. So I'm still puzzled.

https://www.smugmug.com/gallery/n-H48SV/i-cs9PkmK
Andrew,

Agree your bird does show more than a passing resemblance to image 19 so, maybe a female 'vittata' after all. It's a pity there are no images of the bird front-on. Looking at those images there is quite of a bit of individual variation which is hardly surprising given that these birds are possibly the result of historic hybridisation between Pied and Eastern Black-eared Wheatear.

Grahame
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Old Monday 13th November 2017, 08:36   #15
andyb39
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Thanks, Grahame. I found another thread featuring another bird from last year, which also has a neckstrap but similar wing markings and mottled back. i don't know if that neckstrap is a must.

http://www.uaebirding.com/forum/show...day-4-November
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