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Short-toed Rock Thrush - M.b.Pretoriae - South Africa (1 Viewer)

Martin Hobbs

Well-known member
Location: Pilanesburg Game Reserve - North West Province - South Africa

First Identified as the Cape Rock Thrush due to the uniformly grey head with no white patch on top of the head or neck.
Then noticed after posting pictures on the SA Bird Forum that replies came back noting that the back was grey rather than orange as the Cape Rock Thrush back colour.
The Short-toed Rock Thrush has a grey back, but also has a white head and neck which is missing on this bird.
There is noted a species of the short-toed Rock Thrush M.b. Pretoriae which has been seen with grey back and no white head & neck colour.

Could somebody confirm that these pics are of the Short-toed Rock Thrush M.b. Pretoriae.

Many Thanks
Martin
JHB
South Africa
 

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Tib78

Well-known member
Yes it's a Short-toed Rock-thrush.

The wing coverts look grey like you mentionned, the underparts look too bright orange for Cape RT in my opinion, and the head is not blue enough. Cape RT shows an orange semi-collar and not such a neat separation between grey throat and orange breast.
 

Martin Hobbs

Well-known member
Yes it's a Short-toed Rock-thrush.

The wing coverts look grey like you mentionned, the underparts look too bright orange for Cape RT in my opinion, and the head is not blue enough. Cape RT shows an orange semi-collar and not such a neat separation between grey throat and orange breast.

Tib78,
Thanks for your confirmation. It was the lack of white on the head and neck that was the confusing issue.
However the Short-toed RT M.b. Pretoriae has a reduced amount of white on the head and neck, or none at all, as per this bird.

Thanks for your response.

Martin
 

njlarsen

Gallery Moderator
Opus Editor
Supporter
Barbados
Please upload one or both images to the gallery; I have no experience in African birds, but as far as I can see we don't have any images of the form pretoriae in there (which you have argued well for this one being).

Cheers
Niels
 

Martin Hobbs

Well-known member
Please upload one or both images to the gallery; I have no experience in African birds, but as far as I can see we don't have any images of the form pretoriae in there (which you have argued well for this one being).

Cheers
Niels

Niels,
Thanks for your reply.
The difference between the Short-toed Rock Thrush and the form M.b. Pretoriae is the lesser or non-existant white patch on the top of the head and neck. It is present in the Short-toed RT, which are distributed more in Botswana and western areas of South Africa. The form M.b. Pretoriae (with no white patch) is only found in the eastern part of it's distribution which is near the city of Pretoria (hence the form name).
The main difference between the Short-toed RT and the Cape RT is the back and wing feathers on the Cape RT are reddish brown, and on the Short-toed RT they are grey. There is also a slight difference in the breast colour as well, but not that noticeable, so the grey or brown back and wing feathers are the best indicator.
If you click on the link below you will see that this is not an uncommon mistake to make, as even this bird forum has the bird shown as a Cape RT, when in fact it is a Short-toed RT M.b. Pretoriae (note the grey wings and back feathers).
I apologise but I havent got a picture of the Cape RT, however it looks very similar to the bird in the link below, apart from the grey wings and back feathers.

http://www.avianweb.com/caperockthrushes.html

Regards

Martin
 

Tib78

Well-known member
I apologise but I havent got a picture of the Cape RT, however it looks very similar to the bird in the link below, apart from the grey wings and back feathers.

http://www.avianweb.com/caperockthrushes.html

Here are some nice shots of Cape RT: http://www.birdsoman.com/Birds/130-Thrushes/CapeRockThrush/CapeRockThrush.htm

In addition to the features given by Martin, note also that the general colour is slightly different: orange underparts are darker, and the head is blueish rather than grey.
 

Martin Hobbs

Well-known member
Here are some nice shots of Cape RT: http://www.birdsoman.com/Birds/130-Thrushes/CapeRockThrush/CapeRockThrush.htm

In addition to the features given by Martin, note also that the general colour is slightly different: orange underparts are darker, and the head is blueish rather than grey.

Tib78,
Nice pictures of the real Cape Rock Thrush.
I notice these were taken at Giants Castle, in the Drakensberg Mountains... I haven't spent a lot of time there as it is too cold in the winter (well, by South African standards I think) and I am always at the coast or the African bush in the summer months.
There are however many birds in the Drakensberg that I haven't seen as yet and so I really must pull myself away from the usual places one summer and go higher!

Thanks for your reply.

Martin
 

Trevor Hardaker

Well-known member
Hi,

If you are interested, I have several images of Cape, Sentinel and Short-toed Rock Thrushes for comparison on my website at www.hardaker.co.za. Just click on "birds" in the left margin and then scroll down and click on "Muscicapidae - Old World Flycatchers and Chats" and you will then find the links to the various rock thrushes on that family page.

As an aside, I agree that the bird in your photos is in fact M.b. pretoriae.

Kind regards
Trevor
 

Martin Hobbs

Well-known member
Hi,

If you are interested, I have several images of Cape, Sentinel and Short-toed Rock Thrushes for comparison on my website at www.hardaker.co.za. Just click on "birds" in the left margin and then scroll down and click on "Muscicapidae - Old World Flycatchers and Chats" and you will then find the links to the various rock thrushes on that family page.

As an aside, I agree that the bird in your photos is in fact M.b. pretoriae.

Kind regards
Trevor


Trevor,
Thanks for the confirmation.
I have visited your website, and will be visiting it on a very regular basis I think as I found it fascinating.
I am very impressed, and very envious of your trips and what you have seen and photgraphed.
Do you do this for a living, as I notice you are off to the South Atlantic soon as well?
I have been posting to the South African forum for about a year now and I cannot remember seeing any posts from you. I also notice that you joined in 2004 and wondered why you had not posted more comments on the South African Birdforum, but then I realised after looking at your web site that you would probably not have a lot of time to sit and write posts onto the forum!!

I also noticed your camera equipment. What camera do you use, and what are those fantastic lenses I see?

Sorry for the questions, but I am so impressed with your work/hobby and what you are doing with it.
If you have a few spare moments would you post on the South African forum as I am sure there are more people that would be interested in hearing advice, birding spots you have visited, tips etc as I have been.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my query.

Martin
 

Trevor Hardaker

Well-known member
Hi Martin,

Thanks for your kind words.

This is just a hobby of mine - well, actually more like an obsessive passion!! I do hold down a normal job, but because I spend so much time in the field, it feels more like I work in my spare time than anything else... After all, I have to find a way to earn money to fuel my hobby and all the associated trips!!

My camera equipment is all Canon equipment. Unfortunately, this is another expensive pastime as one can never have all the necessary gear that you need. There is always a bigger lens to get or a better camera body to get...

I generally don't get a huge amount of time to spend on the forum, so that is why I haven't really participated in the SA forum. I do try and pop in every once in a while just to see what is going on though, but I just don't have the time to be a regular contributor as some of the people are.

Kind regards
Trevor
 

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