It's a big topic to talk about but if we restrict ourselves to on or close to the pivot fields the picture is a little bit simpler.
Throughout the winter there were Isabelline wheatear and desert wheatear (and one or two other species near-by in small numbers). Two weeks ago they were joined by an influx of pied wheatear.
However the picture is constantly changing at the moment. Lou and I failed to see a single desert wheatear on Thursday (although I did see one a day later a few kilometres way). The pied wheatear numbers were down slightly but there were more Isabelline wheatear than ever.
Two more wheatears have made an appearance close to the fields.
A single black-eared wheatear was seen by the river bank. Previous records show this is about 8 times rarer than pied wheatear in the spring passage. It was my first this season or indeed in Saudi Arabia. The chances are it is en route to Turkey or the southern Caucasus.
Isabelline wheatear numbers were much higher than in winter.
Also near the river but adjacent to a pivot field was my first sighting of a northern wheatear this season. Unlike with black eared wheatear, I have seen one in the area before back in October. The sighting of the northern wheatear is early. It was two days earlier than any before in the two main historical records.
male pied wheatear
As there have been so many pied wheatear around over the past two weeks, I am beginning to recognise the the more tricky females as well as the males.
Another bird which gives me identification issues is stonechat. As I have said before a majority but not over-whelming majority of the wintering stonechat in central Arabia are Siberian stonechat. The one above looked Siberian but it was only after seeing it from behind that I was sure.
second view of a Siberian stonechat
The white rump combined with the small amount of orange on the breast and the large collar together give me confidence. Furthermore, I think it is possibly the maura sub species (nominate) as the orange patch is not very small and I can't see any white tail sides.
I find some female stonechat impossible to separate. This one has no feature I can use to distinguish from the front.
second view of female stonechat
The wing is quite long which points towards a Siberian stonechat but the rump doesn't look very pale which points to a European bird. So overall I really just can't tell.