A great read Richard, quite a few birds there that I'd like to catch up with one day!...Perhaps I will when you complete your narrative...yawn..yawn. :-O :t:
Thanks Ken, a creative genius like me has to be in the right mood to compose you know, so as they said in 1914 “It will all be over and done by Christmas “ .
Anyway, lucky for you this is my abridged version, I’ve left out “The ‘starling’ that probably wasn’ t “ mystery.:-C
Enjoying the report, having been in Armenia a few weeks ago. How did you rule out rubicola Stonechat, cannot see the tail pattern in the photo but the orange on the underparts looks too extensive for what I was expecting for variegatus. I only recorded rubicola in Armenia, but maybe I overlooked variegatus.
Thanks Nick, they were the highlight (avian at least) for me.
I think we had similar emotions recently, you with your Dwarf Bittern and me with the Grey-necked Bunting!
The Stonechat complex is still a bit of a minefield isn't it! The males that I saw in flight seemed to have pale unstreaked rumps and the white neck patch was large compared to those I see here in eastern France/west Switzerland. A few years back in March in Israel we saw 'Caspian' Stonechats which had less reddish area on the breast but I've no idea where they were headed..
Have you read the following paper: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/289695682 Taxonomy and nomenclature of the Stonechat complex Saxicola torquatus sensu lato in the Caspian region
Article (PDF Available) in Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club
If I read their map correctly rubicola
doesn't seem to be in Armenia? Were your birds already paired up or were you there earlier in the spring?
The “Starling” sounds interesting...can you expand?....although not with the War and Peace version. :-O
Now you've got me intrigued!
Embarrassing incident No.94… Well, as this is a ‘warts and all’ account I have to come clean – while we were walking in the Vedi gorge (Véro with our one pair of binoculars, me with the camera stalking the Woodchats (unsuccessfully)), Véro pipes up, “Funny place for a Starling”, I barely glance at an all-black bird disappearing round the corner at the bottom of the wadi. We hadn’t seen any Common Starlings thereabouts, but all these exotic eastern WP species were occupying my mind so I quickly recommenced my photographic efforts. What do I discover upon our return from Armenia? Three days after our visit to Vedi, another visiting birder finds Armenia’s first-ever, you guessed it! Who knows? Maybe it WAS a Starling, I’m just glad I had to go to North Wales in June 2003 when the individual in the photo was visiting South Stack RSPB!
I was in Armenia from 17th to 21st May and saw birds that were paired up. I have had a look at that paper previously and I interpret the map as showing Rubicola (the blue line) circling an area of the Caucasus including the eastern end of the Black Sea and this ties in with other published maps I have seen. I agree on the fact that the birds all the birds I saw had pale rumps that appeared unstreaked, but in flight I never saw any white in the outer tail feathers.
Thanks Mark, I guess I’ll have to ‘downgrade’ my variegata to rubicola, don’t want Jos S to start casting more stringy aspersions in my direction!