More on taivana Wagtails in Middle East

and ‘xanthophrys’  –  feldegg (Black-headed Wagtail) intergrade/hybrids 

Following Mike Watson’s images, Ian Boustead has flagged up another…  so revisiting these stunning yellow and black Wagtails has had the very helpful input of Oscar Campbell. Grahame Walbridge and others have v helpfully chipped in (see comments box on the recent post).

I have added a bit on calls at the end  (MG).


“Here are some images of a flava wagtail, photographed at the pivot fields in Dubai in December 2009.” Ian Boustead

Oscar Campbell replies The bird Ian refers in the comment box is featured at in the UAE photo galleries ; one or more such individuals wintered at Dubai Pivot Fields from 2008 to 2012 at least. None of the images featured there are as good as the ones Ian has just emailed…

Anyway, consensus at the time amongst UAE birders was that the Pivots bird(s) fitted best as ‘xanthophrys’, which Alstrom & Mild in Pipits and Wagtails regard as an intergrade between feldegg and lutea…   cont’d below


image002 image006

all photos above by Ian Boustead, Pivot fields, Dubai, Dec. 2009

Same place, one year earlier.

Several examples seen in the Dubai Pivot fields in other years. This one photographed on 14th November 2008 – same area

feldegg hybird nick moran (1 of 1)

Photo above poached- take by sage-like BTO staff member Nick Moran :), Dubai Pivot Fields, 14th Nov 2008.

For more images of these bird(s)in Dubai Pivot Fields click HERE


… response cont’d from Oscar Campbell

The blackish blotches on crown and nape (also evident in Ian’s images) seem to indicate feldegg and the yellowish blotches on the cheek patches (more obvious in the UAE images than in the Oman bird) could be taken as indicative of lutea. Obviously, here in the UAE we would welcome any futher comment on this bird with regard to its identity.

One issue worth considering, and something I’d like to be enlightened on, is just how dark the ear coverts on taivana can get. HBW-Alive indicates that they can be pretty dark (darker then the image linked to by Jan). The only taivana I have seen (part of an enchanting flock of migrant Eastern Yellow Wagtails, mainly tschutschensis but also two taivana) in coastal fields in eastern Tawian, April 2012) went down in my notebook as having ‘thick, plain olive mask from lore through ear coverts to nape’. I also noted that the supercilium was ‘very broad, deep yellow; ending deeply and bluntly behind eye’. The supercilium on the UAE bird(s) is long and obviously curves downwards behind the ear coverts, in a manner rather similar to the pronounced effect on the Oman bird. This has the effect of cutting the mask off from the nape to some extent and giving a somewhat Citrine-like effect; again I am not sure this is a good feature for a true taivana. Finally, the rather obvious grey cast on the back of the bird(s) from the UAE (and especially evident in Ian’s images) is presumably at odds with taivana (?) – although I not sure it is compatible with either feldegg or lutea parentage either!



As ever Hanne and Jens Eriksen have some lovely summer time images of taivana HERE and for Oriental Bird Club images pages provides a very useful collection of ‘taivana’ photos to compare and contrast. Well worth  a visit here and remember to scroll through- lots more than just one photo! Click HERE

Calls and Sonagrams

MG – the bird below photographed in Turkey in August is going to have nice black mask and be classifiable a feldegg variant. The sonagram below is from call recorded same location. It’s clearly the ‘feldegg sonagram’ shape and not eastern taxa/ Citrine. Hopefully recordings  of birds in Dubai will be as revealing and why I am so keen on call recording 🙂

Turkey August 2009 466 ad male feldegg variant


feldegg wagtail turkey 19th Aug 2009 MGarner

Above photo and recording from Black-headed Wagtail variant. (Martin Garner)

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