Recent Sighting From Middle East/Iran

Sighting Details

Date Added: December 6, 2014

Posted by: Ali Alieslam

Location: Near Jask city, Hormozgan province

Directions: First record for Iran of Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea, near Jask city, Hormozgan province by Ali Alieslam

Sightings: On 13 February 2011 in the morning, during a trip to the southern regions of Iran, I was busy photographing remote Balouch tribes when a species of bird new to me caught my eye. I had no idea of what it might be! I had found the bird in the remote village of Alayie, north of the small town of Lirdaf and some 40 km from the sea of Oman. The village was not accessible by road and was inhabited by only a couple of families. The only habitat for woodland birds was a big palm garden c200 m from the capars (the small round houses made of woven palm fronds of the local people), and this was the only haven in this mountainous arid habitat.It was c10.00 h when first I saw the bird, and I spent about an hour watching it and taking photographs. The weather was fine with brilliant sunshine and no wind. The strange bird was very active and quite easy to see. It was brownish-grey on the back, wings, tail and breast, and had a conspicuous blue-grey head with a thin black band across the throat. It looked very much like a flycatcher and had the same typical behaviour. It was foraging in a Jujube tree Ziziphus mauritiana, frequently flying around in the upper parts of the tree for a metre or two to catch passing insects, and occasionally flying down to perch in the lower branches or on a nearby wooden post. I only had a Canon 70–200 mm lens to mount on my Canon 5D body, and it proved difficult to take good photographs of the bird in the dense foliage. However, I managed to take several acceptable photographs (Plates 1–4) which assisted me in my subsequent investigation into the bird’s identity. After about an hour, the bird finally disappeared into some big palm trees nearby. Back in Tehran, I searched through various field guides and discussed the bird with some friends. The strange bird turned out to be a female Black-naped Monarch or Black-naped Blue Flycatcher Hypothymis azurea. The bird is an Oriental species widely distributed in southeast Asia including India. Though it is generally a sedentary species it sometimes wanders quite widely in winter and is a vagrant to southeast Sind, Pakistan (Roberts 1992). AcknowledgementsI would like to thank Krys Kazmierczak, Richard Porter and Derek Scott for their confirmation of the identification of the bird. Thanks also to Abolghasem Khalegizade.ReferencesRoberts, TJ. 1992. The Birds of Pakistan. Vol 2 Passeriformes. Oxford University Press, Karachi.Ali Alieslam, 145 Africa Ave, Tehran 19156, Iran.