Thursday, 22 March 2012

Yes, it was a booted warbler

I submit all my observation data to the ebird database. I have a backlog of data over the years from several countries which is slowing being dealt with. However my data on Saudi Arabia is up to date.

I put my data on ebird for several reasons. First it's a convenient way for me to store it for the long term. Second it helps build-up a map of bird type and distribution for everyone. Third, I like the way that any contentious data is questioned and verified by an expert supervisor assigned to each country.

I have submitted hundreds of pieces of data for Saudi Arabia. So far three of the data entries have been "called in" for a second opinion. 

One scrutiny took place last week and it was over an observation from October last year in Al Waha compound, Riyadh. 

booted warbler

The good news is that my identification was supported. It was a booted warbler rather than a Sykes warbler or eastern olivaceous warbler.

The bird in question had a dark spot on the tip of its lower mandible,  rusty brown flanks, a browner back (than Sykes) , short primary projection and last but not least booted, darker feet below pinkish legs! 

second view of the booted warbler

I looked at the two main historic records for the area. Both recorders saw booted warbler but the earlier one (from the early 1990s) didn't differentiate between Sykes and booted which at the time were seen as two sub species of the same main species. The second observer from the early 2000s was aware of the difference and thought all his from central Saudi Arabia were booted warbler rather than Sykes warbler. so my one observation is consistent with them.

My understanding is that on the Gulf coast in the east of Saudi Arabia, its a different story and that there are as many Sykes as booted.  

In many ways its no surprise that the observations in central Arabia are booted warbler because it breeds much further west (even as far west as Latvia) than Sykes warbler.

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