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Egypt 3rd WP record of ASIAN RED-RUMPED SWALLOW Sharm El sheikh Day 15

14th March 2020

This ASIAN RED-RUMPED SWALLOW, of one of the Eastern races, probably japonica, that I found yesterday at the golf course, will be the 3rd Western Palaearctic record if accepted!

Last night after updating my blog, the messed up Red-rumped Swallow that I had briefly on that day, got to me thinking something wasn’t right, showing a darkish throat, heavy streaking on the underparts and two broken tail streamers. I thought that there was a Streaked Swallow and typed it into Ecosia to see what it looked like. Instead, up popped Streaked-throated Swallow. Never heard of it and although I only had record shots to go by, the images I saw on line appeared to look like my individual and I started looking at other images. I got onto one site and it seemed to be spot on. I sent my photos to James Lidster and Mashuq Ahmad to see what their opinion would be on the swallow. Mash, I also sent the photos from the website that it looked good on to make a comparison with. It was the images from the website that I sent Mash, that labeled it as Streaked-throated Swallow, started the problems. The images were in fact not of the latter species but Asian Red-rumped Swallow! Not that I would know what a Streak-throated or Asian Red-rumped Swallow looked like, it didn’t help the situation as these images were now what I was goin by to identify the golf course individual.

However, this morning non of them had replied. So, I found myself early at the golf course for the third time in a row. It turned out to be another cracker of a day. My mind was set to find that swallow but I was distracted by so many Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, Chiffchaff, Reed and Sedge Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat. I made my ways down the south side, flushed 40+Short-toed Lark, and there in the blue sky were Pallid Swifts and 150 hirundines! How was I going to find it with this lot but in the first scan I got it. It was to high to get anything on it and I just couldn’t focus anything way up in the sky with the camera. Searching upwards for it all the time and I got 2 Common Swift with a single Little Swift, 25 Red-rumped Swallow, 110+Swallow and the rest wee Sand and House Martin.. It looked like it was threatening to rain and 3 Collard Pratincole flew straight through south and the takking of Lesser Whitethroat I could hear all over the shop.. After 30 minutes I gave up and left the swallow alone and as I headed across to the north side, 5 Collard Pratincole moved south and the swallow was hawking low in front of me! It even pitched down on the deck briefly, now in the sun, where I was able to stalk it and get the photos I needed, so I thought. I sent back on pics to Jim and asked him to put the news out as I couldn’t post on my twitter account, because as usual, wifi was crap. He let me know that the news was out but it wasn’t long until he came back to tell me that some folks are suggesting it’s an Eastern race of Red-rumped Swallow. I had no idea what one of them looked like and needed to get on wifi to have a look. Eventually I did, but everytime I searched for the race, only Red-rumped Swallow kept on appearing. So, I still didn’t know what it looked like. I had to get better flight shots of this swallow and that I did and sent them to Jim.

There was an increase of warblers including 25+Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler, 60+Chiffchaff, 60-70 Lesser Whitethroat, 15+Reed and 9 Sedge Warbler and I had not covered all of the golf course.

From the image above the tail is not right for Steaked-throated Swallow, in fact there are other features that are not right, including the crown which should be red and not dark, also the underwing, for the latter species, but all I kept thinking was that it was spot on because I was goin from the images from the website that misidentified it as a Asian Red-rumped Swallow. Crazy!!

The first Blue-cheeked Bee-eater of the day moved through with 11 birds and I heard a Tree Pipit.A flock of 60 Black-headed Wagtail landed close to me and with them were a mix of all sorts and 2 Citrine Wagtail. 15 red-throated and 3 water Pipit were also with the flock and it was while taking pics of the wagtails, that 7 Collard Pratincole arrived from the south and hung around. I turned around and coming towards me from the east, was a White-winged Black Tern! For a brief time, the tern was hawking with the pratincoles pretty high up before they all returned and continued feeding over the fairways. It was twenty minutes that another pratincole came in and joined the others that were now hawking over one of the small pools. If that wasn’t enough, 32 Blue-cheeked Bee-eater arrived and stock around hawking with the tern and pratincoles!

This Citrine Wagtail showed very well

But I could only get a record shot of the duller individual

Still some 60 Black-headed Wagtail present

Male Blue-headed Wagtail

With a mix of hybrids new in including this individual

Some 15 Red-throated Pipit were also feeding with the wagtails

In total 16 Collard Pratincole in three flocks, 3, 5 and 8. It was the latter number that hung around

This stunner appeared from the east with the Sinai Mountains in the distance. Sorry there are so many pics of this White-winged Tern but all though I’ve seen 100s before, this is the first individual that ever seen in summer plumage. It’s like a new species.

And briefly hawked with the 8 Collard pratincole on arrival

I was now on the south-south-west side and a new male Siberian Stonechat and a single Bluethroat was in. All the time while I’m birding I’m constantly looking to skies and high above me was a stunning male Pallid Harrier followed by a low flying Osprey.I sat n the shade under a large palm to have a rest and out of nowhere, a male Eastern Black-eared Wheatear dropped out from the sky and pitched down only meters away from me! I had already seen 3 Northern and a single Isabeline Wheatear but you just can’t beat a stonking male Black-eared Wheatear. It had gone 12.30 and I wanted to get to the botanical gardens but not until I see if yesterday Richard’s Pipit was still in the NW corner. There were now 2 Richard’s Pipit together!

I’ve only seen 3 juvenile Pallid Harrier, all on scilly, so this male Pallid Harrier, dancing gracefully in the air high up, like the tern, was like a new species

I was in the shade sitting under a Palm Tree and this male Eastern Black-eared Wheatear dropped in only a few meters away from me!

I went to see if the large pipit was still present from yesterday and found there are now 2 Richard’s Pipit

There had been an large arrival of Chiffchaff, Lesser Whitethroat and Reed warbler on the golf course and it was no different at the gardens. I was kicking them out left, right and center with Sedge Warbler and 4 Bluethroat as well, from any patch of bush, hedge, tree, weeds or grass. A male Black-eared Wheatear was showing well and in the NW corner there were 2 Tree Pipit and now only 12 Cretzschmar’s Bunting. I got a flash of a wheatear distantly fling and it was the male Cypress Wheatear! It perched in a tree and was gone never to be seen again! Where had that been hiding? I flushed 2 Quail together and a Steppe Buzzard fly north.

Busy cutting down the weedy area in the moat where the migrants feed. Great stuff! Why has everything got to be immaculate?

Another stonking male Eastern Black-eared Wheatear

Out of the 2 Tree Pipit this was the one that showed at close range

6 of the 12 Cretzschmar’s Bunting

The male Eastern Redstart was still present in the Acacia Trees with the 2 Siberian Stonechat nearby.. 2 Northern and a single Isabeline Wheatear were also in the area and in the Acacias was the male Ruppell’s Warbler. Like the Cypress Wheatear, I missed him yesterday as well. However, this was ruled out when there were 3 male and female Ruppell’s Warbler spending a lot of time on the deck together. Which one do I take a photo of?

out of the 4 Ruppell’s Warbler it was the female that didn’t perform well

On the south side there were more warblers all over the shop and as I approached a large bush, out came some 10 Lesser Whitethroat and a large black and white beauty. A stunning male Masked Shrike!! Woodchat Shrike yeasterday replaced by a Masked Shrike today. Returning to the car, I had one last look at the moat area and in with 20+Black-headed Wagtail with all kinds of hybrids .

This male Masked Shrike was quite simply, amazing!

This is the bush that Lesser Whitethroat and shrike came deep from out of

The habitat above is where I was kicking birds out from in the garden as well as elsewhere in the area.

There were only 20 Black-headed Wagtail but in with them were a few hybrids new in including this individual

This Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler perched only an arms lengh away from me, looked at me and like anyone else would if they saw my face at very close range, made a quick exit.

There were over 30 Reed Warbler

A quick look at the Sharm sewage pools saw the same stuff I saw yesterday but new in were 17 Ruff, 3 Collard Pratincole and 4 White stork and 7 Steppe Buzzard moved through south. The small reedbed nearby was full of Reed Warbler with others flushed in the low vegetation. There were also Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, 2 Siberian Stonechat, 1 Bluethroat, 20+Black-headed Wagtail and the 2 Cretzschmar’s Bunting. 7 Crowned Sandgrouse flew overhead to finish off another conker of a day!!

4 White Stork flew straight north

After the record shots yesterday, I nailed the 4 Striated Bunting on this visit.

These 3 puppy’s were on the causeway as I left the pools

Totals from all three sites that I visited today of the common migrants included 30+Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler

40+Sedge Warbler

80+Reed Warbler There were also 100+Black-headed Wagtail and over 120+ Lesser Whitethroat between just Golf course and the botanical gardens

When I returned home I looked up Asian Red-rumped Swallow and sure enough the experts had got it right. I have no idea what the status of this species is in Egypt but at I guess, it’s scarce maybe?

Streak-throated Swallow   Petrochelidon fluvicola

This is one of the three images from the website that said it was a Streaked-throated Swallow and this is what I was identifying the golf course individual from these images when really, the image above is a Asian Red-rumped Swallow. Do you get my Drift? Do they still sell them?

Author: Kris Webb 10

I love to throw sticks at trees! I also can’t get enough of music! I also blog about my observations on Scilly and wherever I go around the world and what’s sometimes on my mind. I’ve visited over 30 countries and some more times than once. I’ve worked and volunteered in Nepal, USA, Peru, Gambia, Costa Rica, 3x Australia, and refugee camps in Palestine The profile image is one I took while in Palestine of a brave Israeli holding high the Palestinian flag in front of the Israeli Offensive Forces during protests in Belin

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