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Lesser Whitethroat, Goa, India - althaea or blythi?

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Old Wednesday 8th February 2017, 16:27   #1
Mark Newsome
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Lesser Whitethroat, Goa, India - althaea or blythi?

Attached is an image from the Goa Facebook page by Vedang Saunt. The two forms of Lesser Whitethroat recorded in Goa are Siberian, L.c.blythi (regular sightings of occasional wintering birds shwoing typical blythi features) and Hume's, L.c.althaea (in checklists, never seen a suitable candidate or photo myself).
There is only this one photo, but it's not grabbing me as a typical blythi. Can anyone with experience of wintering Hume's see anything to sway one way or the other in this one shot?

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Old Wednesday 8th February 2017, 17:39   #2
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Collect some poo and send it to DocMartin
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Old Thursday 9th February 2017, 13:35   #3
Mark Newsome
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Collect some poo and send it to DocMartin
Thanks for the suggestion. Scrambling about under bushes in India may well detected some droppings but there's a strong chance it may not be avian...

Perhaps this one photo does not strongly point one way of the other, but to me, the bill looks strong, the mantle looks more earthy brown than grey/sandy brown, there is little brown going from the nape to the crown and there's not much paler primary fringing (compared to attached image of a typical blythi taken in Goa by Justino Rebello). Whether this adds up to althaea, I'm not sure.

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Old Thursday 9th February 2017, 15:57   #4
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Hi Mark,

I would favour Hume's for this bird. In addition to the pointers you mentioned, the head is uniformly dark grey, with just the ear coverts standing out and contrasting sharply with the pure white throat. Also, there's apparently little or no white in the outertail feathers.

For comparison, here's a bird seen here in the UAE recently. I found Hume's to be relatively easy to identify in the field - they look very dark indeed - compared to in photos.

https://www.smugmug.com/gallery/n-Q2pT7G/
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Old Thursday 9th February 2017, 17:37   #5
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Great comparison pics Andy, many thanks.
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Old Thursday 9th February 2017, 21:41   #6
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Thanks for the suggestion. Scrambling about under bushes in India may well detected some droppings but there's a strong chance it may not be avian...
My comment was obviously partly tongue-in-cheek, but not entirely so; of recent UK / west European wintering Lesserthroats, some had different IDs visually, to what they eventually turned out to be on DNA. So how reliable can an identification based on field characters be??
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