Monday, 16 March 2009

Red-tailed Wheatear

This species was a good bonus bird for a hard day in the face burning, wind swept steppe. Flitting around some buildings late afternoon it eventually put on a fine performance.

I had seen this species in Armenia way back in 1995, but it was a tick for everyone else, and a tricky bird to get in the Western Palaearctic.

Confusion (for us at least) still reigns about the taxonomic status of these birds. Basically there are two (sub)species – one with white at the basal sides to the tail, and the other with red. Both have reddish vents. This bird had white sides, which makes it of the form ‘xanthoprymna’, rather than the red sided ‘chrysopygia’.

The English names of Persian and Kurdish Wheatear have also been variously used in recent years for this attractive species. If you are Dutch, and follow their taxanomic rules, you can get two ticks for the price of one. Remco

Red-tailed wheatear

Northern Wheatear