My decent(ish) finds in Feb 2012: 1 Yellow-browed Warbler Carnon Downs 04/02, 1 Water Pipit Carnon Downs 04/02, 1 Smew Loe Pool 01/02

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Saturday, 16 May 2009

A week in Menorca

Balearic Woodchat Shrike - note the absence of white primary patch and more extensive black on the crown (photo courtesy of Dave Appleton -

One of the perks of being a professional ecologist is that you occasionally swan off to international conferences. I've just come back from a week in Menorca, and although it wasn't a birding trip I did manage a few of the resident highlights including, Audoin's Gull, Gypo Vulture (x3), Bee-eaters (x5), Black Kite (x8), Hoopoe, loads of Calandra & Thekla Larks and Zitting Cists, a Stone Curlew and a Balearic Woodchat Shrike. Some of these are exactly the kind of thing I'd hope to find on The Lizard this Spring, but almost certainly won't. Speaking of vagrancy - it was interesting to see that a Bal Woodchat turned-up in Ireland shortly after I returned. This got me thinking. These badius boys regularly fly over the range of senator in North Africa and goodness knows how many make it to Spain? Why don't they interbreed? Surely a good candidate for a full species under the BSC if ever there was one....

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ilya,
    Not only does badius regularly fly over the range of rutilans (the taxon breeding in north Africa and Iberia, which is very similar to senator), but senator migrates through the Balearics, the winter range of badius is distinct from that of senator/rutilans (and is surrounded by it), and birds can and do overshoot and wind up in NE Spain and southern France, yet I can't recall ever hearing of a mixed pair. Hmm...
    That said, given the ability of the Brown/Isabelline/Red-backed complex to produce hybrids in the areas of overlap, and the occasional appearance of odd hybrid shrikes in Europe, I am sure that senator x badius could occur...whether this would be a barrier to a split is another question? If Carrion and Hooded Crows are treated as seperate species these days, despite the existence of hybrid zones, then what about a shrike taxon identifiable in every plumage, with different biometrics, different winter quarters, breeding on islands where a closely related taxon is a passage migrant? Has anyone done DNA work with the Woodchat taxa? Niloticus may be a possible split also?
    (Of course, I've had a soft spot for badius for years, since 2002...)


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