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Lesser Whitethroat

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Old Sunday 2nd March 2014, 19:44   #51
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This is approximately the same migration direction that Amur Falcon takes before doing a left turn down Africa. I think that a few more examples could be found if looking around. Niels
The Alaskan breeding population of Northern Wheatear, for example...
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Old Sunday 2nd March 2014, 20:22   #52
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Another good example of an eastern migrant breeder wintering in Arabia is Daurian (Isabelline) Shrike Lanius (isabellinus) isabellinus.
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Old Sunday 2nd March 2014, 20:27   #53
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Well, that was previously the conventional wisdom (eg, Shirihai et al 2001). But, as James noted earlier, Olsson et al 2013 found no evidence of minula breeding outside China.
Several options here:
(a) Olsson's team were unlucky and failed to find minula despite some actually breeding in the area
(b) Habitat degradation (cotton plantations? Aral Sea desertification?) has caused the recent extinction of minula as a breeder in the area
(c) Former claims of minula breeding in the area were actually just passage migrants
(d) Former claims of minula breeding in the area were misidentifications
Any guess which might apply?
Quote:
Originally Posted by njlarsen View Post
This is approximately the same migration direction that Amur Falcon takes before doing a left turn down Africa. I think that a few more examples could be found if looking around.

Niels
Don't think so; they go down the east side of the Sinohimalayan massif, down India, and across the Indian Ocean to SE Africa. A better example might be Steppe Eagles? Or some of the Isabelline Shrike populations?
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Old Sunday 2nd March 2014, 20:27   #54
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fair play, not that unlikely then!
:-)
they certainly don't winter in SE asia so if there's any sideways element to the migration route it must be westerly

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Old Sunday 2nd March 2014, 20:41   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nutcracker View Post
Several options here:
(a) Olsson's team were unlucky and failed to find minula despite some actually breeding in the area
(b) Habitat degradation (cotton plantations? Aral Sea desertification?) has caused the recent extinction of minula as a breeder in the area
(c) Former claims of minula breeding in the area were actually just passage migrants
(d) Former claims of minula breeding in the area were misidentifications
Any guess which might apply?
None of the above really: The "real" minula was always restricted to Xinjiang.
However, halimodendri was treated as belonging to minula, which has been found to be incorrect based on genetic data. The forms halimodendri and althaea do occur in close proximity.
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Old Sunday 2nd March 2014, 23:52   #56
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Don't think so; they go down the east side of the Sinohimalayan massif, down India, and across the Indian Ocean to SE Africa. A better example might be Steppe Eagles? Or some of the Isabelline Shrike populations?
According to HBW alive, some of them do that. However, there is also fall migration recorded north of SE Africa, for example in Ethiopia. Moving around the Indian ocean instead of across seems more common in spring.

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Old Monday 3rd March 2014, 10:05   #57
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According to HBW alive, some of them do that. However, there is also fall migration recorded north of SE Africa, for example in Ethiopia. Moving around the Indian ocean instead of across seems more common in spring.

Niels
"Some"?? Virtually all ("up to a million") migrate east of the Himalaya and across India (following migrating dragonfly swarms). Maybe a few do go west of the Tibetan highlands and then south along the same route as minula whitethroats, but it won't be many compared to the main route.
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Old Monday 3rd March 2014, 10:14   #58
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However, halimodendri was treated as belonging to minula, which has been found to be incorrect based on genetic data.
Well, both Shirihai et al 2001 and Aym & Gargallo 2006 (HBW 11) treated halimodendri as a ssp of S [c] curruca (not of S [c] minula).

[But they included jaxartica (S Kazakhstan) and snigirewskii (E Turkmenistan) in minula.]

Last edited by Richard Klim : Monday 3rd March 2014 at 11:40.
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Old Tuesday 4th March 2014, 07:33   #59
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David Callahan, Birdwatch Listcheck, 3 Mar 2014: Sorting out Lesser Whitethroat.
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Old Tuesday 8th April 2014, 08:00   #60
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http://www.dutchbirding.nl/news.php?id=920 on some Dutch eastern birds.
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Old Monday 15th September 2014, 08:27   #61
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Blyth's/Siberian Lesser Whitethroat

Martin Garner, Birding Frontiers, 14 Sep 2014: Siberian Lesser Whitethroat blythi.
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Old Monday 15th September 2014, 16:28   #62
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By the way, in Birding Frontiers Challenge Series, it is stated that minula is a short-distance migrant. Has somebody any idea what source/study that is based on? (That is one of the books with bad literature reference style).

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Old Monday 15th September 2014, 18:24   #63
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minula

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By the way, in Birding Frontiers Challenge Series, it is stated that minula is a short-distance migrant. Has somebody any idea what source/study that is based on?
Shirihai et al 2001 (Sylvia Warblers) stated that minula (as then understood) "Winters in Pakistan and NW India (S Arabia?)", which would make it a relatively short-distance migrant.

[See also Lesser Whitethroat: Arabia.]

But there are 12 British claims of minula in the BBRC WIP file!

Last edited by Richard Klim : Tuesday 16th September 2014 at 17:26. Reason: BBRC.
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Old Tuesday 16th September 2014, 03:26   #64
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Sorry, I took it too much out of the context. It is said (about European vagrants) "We used to call them 'minula'. With the revelation that minula is a short-distance migrant, breeding only within China (hence 'Chinese Lesser Whitethroat') we have to adjust thinking".
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Old Thursday 20th November 2014, 17:43   #65
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halimodendri

Martin Garner, Birding Frontiers, 20 Nov 2014: Desert Lesser Whitethroats.

Btw, still not convinced of the wisdom of reassigning the widely-used name 'Desert Lesser Whitethroat' from minula to halimodendri, with obvious potential for confusion given that many field birders use vernacular rather scientific names. Most mainstream sources (IOC, eBird/Clements, TiF, OSME, BBRC, Porter & Aspinall 2010, Wassink 2014) associate 'Desert (Lesser) Whitethroat' with minula – the palest, and arguably most desertic form.

Although Olsson et al 2013 describe halimodendri, minula and margelanica as 'desert' forms, halimodendri is more specifically discussed in the context of Central Asian steppe/desert.

A quick survey of names currently used for halimodendri...
  • 'Central Asian': OSME, Porter & Aspinall 2010, Eriksen & Victor 2013, Wassink 2014, van den Berg 2014 (DB bird names)
  • 'Steppe': TiF, BBRC
  • 'Desert': Garner 2014, van den Berg 2014 (Checklist of Dutch bird species)

Last edited by Richard Klim : Thursday 20th November 2014 at 21:09.
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Old Thursday 20th November 2014, 19:02   #66
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Quote:
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Martin Garner, Birding Frontiers, ...

Btw, still not convinced of the wisdom of reassigning the widely-used name 'Desert Lesser Whitethroat' from minula to halimodendri, with obvious potential for confusion ...
Post a comment to that effect on his blog?
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Old Saturday 29th November 2014, 16:32   #67
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It is said (about European vagrants) "We used to call them 'minula'. With the revelation that minula is a short-distance migrant, breeding only within China (hence 'Chinese Lesser Whitethroat') we have to adjust thinking".
Commenting on myself...

Name minula is from Punjab, and the holotype was studied by Olsson et al, as well as birds from China. So it seems that the wintering area includes parts of South Asia (as has been stated in the regional books, e.g. Rasmussen & Anderton). The wintering areas of halimodendri are probably more to the west, on average, but their migration distances should be comparable.
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Old Saturday 29th November 2014, 17:35   #68
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With the revelation that minula is a short-distance migrant, breeding only within China (hence 'Chinese Lesser Whitethroat')...
Btw, I don't favour the name 'Chinese' Lesser Whitethroat for minula, given that its breeding range is restricted to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, whilst margelanica is mostly encountered in Gansu and Qinghai (although also marginally(?) occurring north of the Chinese border).

If the widely-used names 'Desert' or 'Small' Lesser Whitethroat are no longer considered appropriate (despite minula still being the most desert-specific and smallest taxon), then Xinjiang (or Tarim?) Lesser Whitethroat would be an accurate, less ambiguous and less politically-sensitive alternative. Several species are named 'Tibetan'. Why not give equivalent respect/recognition to Xinjiang? Using 'Chinese' for minula is rather like using 'British' Crossbill for Loxia scotica.

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Old Sunday 30th November 2014, 10:22   #69
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Btw, I don't favour the name 'Chinese' Lesser Whitethroat for minula, given that its breeding range is restricted to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, whilst margelanica is mostly encountered in Gansu and Qinghai (although also marginally(?) occurring north of the Chinese border).

If the widely-used names 'Desert' or 'Small' Lesser Whitethroat are no longer considered appropriate (despite minula still being the most desert-specific and smallest taxon), then Xinjiang (or Tarim?) Lesser Whitethroat would be an accurate, less ambiguous and less politically-sensitive alternative. Several species are named 'Tibetan'. Why not give equivalent respect/recognition to Xinjiang? Using 'Chinese' for minula is rather like using 'British' Crossbill for Loxia scotica.
Richard,
Good summary! Just to be clear in my mind, did you mean 'known breeding range is restricted' or the pretty definite ''breeding range is restricted' (my emphasis!)? I'd be interested in any documented survey that had established the breeding distribution limits of any taxon in the vastness of this and adjacent areas (eg for shrikes, warblers, wagtails....)
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Old Sunday 30th November 2014, 11:16   #70
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Just to be clear in my mind, did you mean 'known breeding range is restricted' or the pretty definite ''breeding range is restricted' (my emphasis!)?
Mike, I should indeed have used the qualifier 'known'. As you suggest, there's clearly still much to learn about the extent of the breeding (and wintering) ranges of the Asian taxa.
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Old Sunday 30th November 2014, 17:14   #71
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Mike, I should indeed have used the qualifier 'known'. As you suggest, there's clearly still much to learn about the extent of the breeding (and wintering) ranges of the Asian taxa.
...and there I was, getting excited because you had just seen some new data that might inform our understanding of bird taxa distributions in that part of the world!
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Old Sunday 30th November 2014, 17:48   #72
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Some more speculation about Lesser Whitethroats.The mythical margelanica should also winter somewhere from southern Arabia to northern India. Where else if not there? So it has the longest migration of any "desert forms". And it should also have all chances reaching Europe as a vagrant. We have too few tools for identifying blythi, minula, halimodendri and margelanica in the field, which is proven by the fact that we don't really know about their wintering areas. Calls may give clues. There are Lesser Whitethroats with European style chack - call there and also rattling ones. It would be tempting to think that the first are blythi - at least you do not hear rattling calls in Siberian taiga zone any more often than in Europe. Then there are at least two types of rattling, which may be distinct or not, but at least the difference is easy to hear and see in spectrograms. Spectrogram samples of both are attached. Both were recorded at the breeding sites. A Blue Tit - like rattle by halimodendri and an even rattle by althaea, but I have heard this even rattle also from birds which look like halimodendri/minula in winter in Oman, where halimodendri - type rattle was more common.
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Old Monday 1st December 2014, 07:51   #73
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margelanica

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Some more speculation about Lesser Whitethroats.The mythical margelanica should also winter somewhere from southern Arabia to northern India. Where else if not there?
Is the migrant originally collected by Stolzmann in Uzbekistan actually still the only fully confirmed record of margelanica outside the breeding range?

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Old Monday 9th May 2016, 20:44   #74
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Votier et al

Votier, †Aspinall, Bearhop, Bilton, Newton, Alstrm, Leader, Carey, Furnes & Olsson (in press). Stable isotopes and mtDNA reveal niche segregation but no evidence of intergradation along a habitat gradient in the Lesser Whitethroat complex (Sylvia curruca; Passeriformes; Aves). J Ornithol. [abstract & preview]

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