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Ashy Drongo subspecies Hainan, China (1 Viewer)

Hainan on the fly

Well-known member
Wondering if anyone can help me narrow this down... I think my options include leucogenis, salangensis and innexus. Looks a little dark for leucogenis?

Thanks,

Brian
 

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johnallcock

Well-known member
ID of Ashy Drongo subspecies in southern China seems to be fairly poorly understood, so it may be tricky to confirm this one.
Most of my experience with Ashy Drongo is with leucogenis, which is fairly common in winter in HK (there's one wintering by my house again this year). This is a bit variable in terms of overall colour, some are darker than others. It's possible as well that the lighting on the photo could affect the plumage tone. But having said that, I think that the white cheek patch is too small for leucogenis, which usually shows a large white area covering the ear coverts.
It could be salangensis. I don't have as much experience here (it seems to be quite scarce here, mostly on passage) but it does seem to commonly have a white cheek patch this shape. Again, they seem to be a bit variable in plumage tone - I'd say this is similar to birds I've seen that I've considered salangensis, but I have also seen them much darker than this.
Unfortunately I have never seen innexus so I can't comment on that from experience. It's the subspecies that breeds on Hainan though, so it's one that you would really need to consider here. I thought that they were supposed to be darker than this, but I'm not sure.
I think I've heard that innexus is now quite rare. How often do you see Ashy Drongos on Hainan? Do you see them in summer or only winter/passage?
 

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Grahame Walbridge

Well-known member
This looks very close to what I would call salangensis with that very restricted white patch but like John I have no experience of innexus which breeds in Hainan. I failed to find any images, perhaps not surprising given John's comments re current status. That said, the literature suggests innexus shows more extensive behind the eye to include the ear coverts + a heavier bill.

https://www.shanghaibirding.com/tag/ashy-drongo/

Grahame
 

Hainan on the fly

Well-known member
ID of Ashy Drongo subspecies in southern China seems to be fairly poorly understood, so it may be tricky to confirm this one.
Most of my experience with Ashy Drongo is with leucogenis, which is fairly common in winter in HK (there's one wintering by my house again this year). This is a bit variable in terms of overall colour, some are darker than others. It's possible as well that the lighting on the photo could affect the plumage tone. But having said that, I think that the white cheek patch is too small for leucogenis, which usually shows a large white area covering the ear coverts.
It could be salangensis. I don't have as much experience here (it seems to be quite scarce here, mostly on passage) but it does seem to commonly have a white cheek patch this shape. Again, they seem to be a bit variable in plumage tone - I'd say this is similar to birds I've seen that I've considered salangensis, but I have also seen them much darker than this.
Unfortunately I have never seen innexus so I can't comment on that from experience. It's the subspecies that breeds on Hainan though, so it's one that you would really need to consider here. I thought that they were supposed to be darker than this, but I'm not sure.
I think I've heard that innexus is now quite rare. How often do you see Ashy Drongos on Hainan? Do you see them in summer or only winter/passage?
Thanks John. I can see what you mean about the face patch being small on this individual. I've also heard the that innexus is quite rare these days. I've only seen 3 individuals of Ashy Drongo, on two separate occasions in Hainan (all white-faced). One sighting was in October and one just now in December. I've only been here for a year though and was gone for a good portion of the summer last year. I did look on iNaturalist and there were only two other sightings (January and May)


On ebird there are only 6 records on Hainan of Ashy Drongo and only one with a picture (February). Hainan is very under reported so relatively, 6 isn't
that small of a number though.


It seems it's pretty likely that the first individual I saw in October was leucogenis and last week's were salangensis but I will certainly be on the look out for innexus. I've found a patch of reasonably natural forest near my work that I've been getting to often so hopefully
I'll be able to accumulate some pictures and perhaps get lucky enough to have one in the thick of the summer. I appreciate you taking the time to help!

Cheers,

Brian
 

Hainan on the fly

Well-known member
This looks very close to what I would call salangensis with that very restricted white patch but like John I have no experience of innexus which breeds in Hainan. I failed to find any images, perhaps not surprising given John's comments re current status. That said, the literature suggests innexus shows more extensive behind the eye to include the ear coverts + a heavier bill.

https://www.shanghaibirding.com/tag/ashy-drongo/

Grahame
Thank Grahame! That link is very interesting and informative. I'll have my eyes peeled for an individual with a large white patch and a heavy bill :)
 

johnallcock

Well-known member
Thanks John. I can see what you mean about the face patch being small on this individual. I've also heard the that innexus is quite rare these days. I've only seen 3 individuals of Ashy Drongo, on two separate occasions in Hainan (all white-faced). One sighting was in October and one just now in December. I've only been here for a year though and was gone for a good portion of the summer last year. I did look on iNaturalist and there were only two other sightings (January and May)

Thanks for finding the iNat records, which I didn't think to do. Interestingly, the two other observations on iNat look like they are probably innexus. One is June (not January), when this should be the only subspecies present. It's obscured by vegetation but it looks dark and large-billed. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/33009728

The May bird is also very dark, much darker than I've ever seen on leucogenis, creating a strong contrast with the white face. The face patch is fairly extensive and the bill looks pretty large (although hard to judge as it's open), which supports Grahame's comment earlier. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/24881615

I'd say that this suggests your recent bird is salangensis, and hopefully these will also give you a search image to help you look for innexus in future. If you can try to document any subspecies you find on iNat or elsewhere it would help us understand the status of each subspecies.
 

TwiddlingThumbs

Well-known member
After reading this thread and becoming curious, I reviewed some of my Ashy Drongo photos. I hope it is ok to tag on to this thread and ask a question on the ssp of this Ashy Drongo seen in Lumphini Park Bangkok, Thailand in November 2018. The bird I photographed has more extensive white around the eyes than the OP's bird but is not pale like a classic leucogenis. Which ssp is this?
 

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Grahame Walbridge

Well-known member
ID of Ashy Drongo subspecies in southern China seems to be fairly poorly understood, so it may be tricky to confirm this one.
Most of my experience with Ashy Drongo is with leucogenis, which is fairly common in winter in HK (there's one wintering by my house again this year). This is a bit variable in terms of overall colour, some are darker than others. It's possible as well that the lighting on the photo could affect the plumage tone.
It's leucogenis for sure. See John's remark above.

Grahame
 

Hainan on the fly

Well-known member
Thanks for finding the iNat records, which I didn't think to do. Interestingly, the two other observations on iNat look like they are probably innexus. One is June (not January), when this should be the only subspecies present. It's obscured by vegetation but it looks dark and large-billed. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/33009728

The May bird is also very dark, much darker than I've ever seen on leucogenis, creating a strong contrast with the white face. The face patch is fairly extensive and the bill looks pretty large (although hard to judge as it's open), which supports Grahame's comment earlier. https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/24881615

I'd say that this suggests your recent bird is salangensis, and hopefully these will also give you a search image to help you look for innexus in future. If you can try to document any subspecies you find on iNat or elsewhere it would help us understand the status of each subspecies.
I'm really glad you caught that, I saw June abbreviated to Jun and my mind turned in into Jan. I'm feeling much more confident in identifying the subspecies of Ashy Drongo in Hainan and am excited to have a reference as I search for innexus. Your help on this is greatly appreciated. I hope to be able to catalog some pictures to help the next birder that runs into this issue here.

Cheers,

Brian
 

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