Mystery Stonechat

It’s a male.

by Martin G.

Which is not much of a clue. It’s not easy, but interesting I hope :).

I watched this bird with Sander Bot and Mick Cunningham in the Beit She’an Valley in Israel a couple of weeks ago. Israel hosts at least 3 stonechat taxa and probably up to 5. So it’s a great place to learn the stonechats.

Only one person was bold enough to put  a name to it (Portland’s Grahame Walbridge) when a photo was first put up here, so I have now added 3 more photos in the hope that it will at least pique some more curiosity. Whaddya think?

Which one is it?

stonechat israel nov 13 b

stonechat israel nov 13 c

stonechat israel nov 13 a


3 thoughts on “Mystery Stonechat

  1. Ashley Fisher

    Adult male (2CY+) ‘Southern Caspian Stonechat’ Saxicola maurus variegatus [SCT] (formerly armenica).

    Reasons: Before going further; I have to admit that initially I agreed with Graham Walbridge’s ID as male rubicola and wondered how many people came to the same conclusion but were afraid to comment – I was!! And also, how many of us (based purely on that first single image) might have overlooked this bird in the field? When more images appeared, there seemed to be more to this bird than first met the eye: There seems to be a very distinct blackish area in the (lesser & median) underwing coverts (though note, this area is in shadow in the photograph!) which, if this is the case, indicates that the bird belongs to one of the eastern taxa.That said, it doesn’t remind me of nominate maurus or stejnegeri – look at the colour of the breast (just on the orange side of brick-red) and the fairly strong contrast with the white underparts: this suggests male SCT… To add further weight to this supposition, note the limited areas of white at the extreme bases of the outer rectrices (usually about a third of each feather of the OTFs are white in SCT [i.e. along the entire feather length, not just the part visible beyond the uppertail coverts] and are often not visible in flight). Having said all this, I’m probably wrong…!

  2. Neil Morris

    Presuming it is an adult bird (black lores etc.) and that the limited white bases to the outer tail feathers appear to be on the retrices not the tail coverts, then South Caspian Stonechat (S. t. armenicus; but soon (?) to be S. t. variegatus).

  3. Pingback: Answer to Mystery Stonechat | Birding Frontiers

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