Near Pune, Maharashtra, India. Dec 2020
Found in grasslands in a large flock of 100 or so. Was lighter in colour than the regular sykes. But is not that common this south. I think this is greater short toed. What do you guys think?
The mere fact that your bird stood out from the 'crowd' so to speak suggest you may have called it right. Your bird appears to be in reasonably fresh plumage so one would expect Mongolian to show warmer, more rufous toned and heavier streaked upper parts. The limited view of the breast appears to lack fulvous tones but a front-on view would be preferable for confirmation. Do you have any shots with other birds from the flock, a comparative image would be useful? Failing that, did you get any images of presumed dukhunensis from the same location with which to compare?
For future reference, vocalisations are different so even if you do not have the proper sound recording gear you could try and obtain a useable recording on your smartphone, assuming you have one.
there was a huge flock that kept flying and settling down in front of the car...The one i have posted wasn't the only one different. But some in the flock were definitely darker and a bit larger than the others. I will post another of a different bird which i thought looked a bit different to the one I posted above. I think this one is dukhunensis.
Agree this individual looks good for dukhunensis on account of fulvous tones around pectorals and centre of breast + it appears rather heavy-billed.
Apparently dukhunenis has a different moult regime to brachydactyla in that adults have a pre-breeding moult (Jan-Mar) which includes body feathers + coverts. That might explain the variation in strength and extent of fulvous wash across breast for example.