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Wintering White-spotted Bluethroat in Bahrain

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  • Wintering White-spotted Bluethroat in Bahrain

    Whilst ringing at Alba Marshes in Bahrain on Friday 3rd February we caught a male White-spotted Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica cyanecula) which is a scarce passage migrant to the region, unlike the Red-spotted Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica svecica) which winters in good numbers. The White-spotted Bluethroat breeds locally in central & southern Europe wintering mainly in west & central Africa with a few in the Middle East (mainly Israel?) and north-east Africa.

    The interesting thing about this bird was it had been ringed by me at the same site on 6th January 2012, although was not identified as a White-spotted Bluethroat as it was not in full breeding plumage. This suggests the bird was wintering in Bahrain, as this would be an extremely early date for a migrant (although possible? as migrants come through the region early). cyanecula is not meant to winter in the area, as far as I am aware, and birds are recorded as rare (or scarce) passage migrants mainly in the spring in the Middle East.

    This Bluethroat has given us something else to look at in Bahrain whilst ringing and we will try to keep tabs on what races of Bluethroat we catch, so we can see what sub-species occur and what their status is.

    A couple of photographs of the cyanecula are included with this post along with a typical svecica with additional details of the bird and photographs of it in the hand at this link for those who may be interested.

    If anyone has any details of cyanecula wintering in the region I would be very interested to know. Shirihai ‘Birds of Israel’ says they occur in Israel as a rare winter visitor mainly in the east & south, but does anyone know of any records of wintering birds further south than this in the Arabian Peninsula?

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