Couchticks

Some news.

First off, the site has been moved to http://bigyearwp.hyber.org – don’t ask why. It has also been down for a while but should be operational now.

Second, we have received a few couch ticks. The Magpie in Morocco is split by IOC and others. See https://www.birdguides.com/articles/taxonomy/magpie-split-five-ways/

Maghreb Magpie

Furthermore, we received note from friends in Portugal that the two Cat-E species have been recently elevated to Cat-C in Portugal. The Pin-tailed Whydah and the Scaly-breasted Munia, both of which we saw in Portugal.

Pin-tailed Whydah
Scaly-breasted Munia

Also, the Pale Martin (Riparia Diluta) we saw in Kuwait is apparently not accepted by Kuwait rarity committee. The 2017 January bird was the first alleged Pale Martin for Kuwait (and for WP). During 2018 and late 2017 a few more alleged Pale Martins were reported in Kuwait. Apparently these birds are accepted. Hopefully the KORC will review our bird again once the new paper by Svensson, Shirihai and Schweizer on the Martin complex is published, and accept it. However as for now we cannot count it. Thus with the original 761 as per the Greater Yellowlegs in Sweden, 3 Cat-C birds and the pending Martin, we are at 763.

Keep your boots muddy during 2019, and keep on birding.

One thought on “Couchticks”

  1. Hi Guys. Hope you are all well. Checked out your last post on the website and thought I’d share some comments regards the martins in Kuwait from 2017.

    The first martin in question was initially found by myself late afternoon on 04 Jan 2017, in fading light, at Jahra Pools Reserve. I was not certain what it was (my initial thoughts being Brown or Grey Throated) but I was quite convinced it was not an aberrant Sand Martin (which occur with surprising regularity in the ME – often due to oil staining). However it was not possible to obtain any shots and I put news out that there was an odd looking ‘dark throated’ martin at the reserve. I must point I did not consider the bird to be a Pale Martin, a species I had seen before in the UAE and Asia. The next day the bird was refound by a number of birders, but being a typical martin, it was highly active and mobile and only flight shots were obtained in blustery conditions. It was at this point Pale Martin was mooted.

    You guys very kindly reached out to Manuel Schweizer who in provided very detailed feedback. In short, as I do not wish to divulge his comments in detail without his permission, he stated the following:

    ‘In summary, I think this bird could well be diluta. However there are two pitfalls’. He then elaborates on those pitfalls. So he was not 100% convinced. You then also reached out to Lars Svensson who provided a short answer only that it was a Pale Martin. But there was no great supporting detail.

    Images and notes were also shared with several number highly qualified birders in the UAE, all of whom were familiar with these species. They were not 100% sure it was a Pale Martin either. It was more of ‘it could be…’

    As a result KORC decided that since there was not unequivocal evidence this was bird was a Pale Martin, it could not be accepted. Of course, this in line with any rare bird committee worth it’s salt. If it’s just a ‘might be’, that is not enough.

    I’ll also now elaborate on the other martins later in the year.

    With reference to your quote ‘During 2018 and late 2017 a few more alleged Pale Martins were reported in Kuwait. Apparently these birds are accepted.’ I would like to confirm that these 3 birds were not alleged, they were 100% legitimate. They were later accepted and I will elaborate why below.

    On 24 November 2017 Markus found a possible Grey Throated Martin at Jahra Pools Reserve (which was later accepted). I joined him on the 26th early in the morning and after quite some time we relocated what we believed to be the Grey Throated Martin.

    While observing this bird we noticed several other martins in the area and they did not appear to be Sand Martins. They often settled on a small section of barbed wire in the middle of a marshy area in the reserve. We decided to split up and attempt to find the best spot to see the birds when they came back to the barbed wire.

    I set up scope at a decent vantage point and could see Markus doing the same in the distance. After some time the 3 martins settled on the wire and I was able to view them quite well. Immediately I realized they were Pale Martins. This species is much easier to identify at rest and is a bird I am familiar with from the UAE and Asia (incidentally irruptions in the UAE occur from time to time and always of more than one bird – I once found a flock of 80 birds in Sharjah). I then called Markus and he had come to the same conclusion. By this point other birders were arriving and many shots were taken of the birds at rest and in flight.

    Even though we were confident on the ID (unlike the previous case), notes and images were shared with Manuel and other ME birders. They confirmed with certainty what we already knew – they were Pale Martins.

    I hope this clarifies matters. I do look forward to seeing the paper you mention. Post it being published we may well go back to Manuel and Lars for further discussion and input regards the bird from January 2017.

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