April 8, 2007

First record of Desert Finch for Mongolia - A. Braunlich

When checking a flock of Twite in a poplar plantation in Khovd today, I discovered a larger, plain brown finch among them. I immediately identified it as DESERT FINCH Rhodospiza obsoleta by its sandy-brown plumage, the thick black bill and the pink/white markings in the wing. After taking a few photos it flew away. I relocated it a while later, then resting together with Eurasian Tree Sparrows at the edge of a road. Pale lores and dark brown, pale edged tertials confirmed that the bird is an adult female in breeding plumage. (Males have black lores and tertials; non-breeding birds have black-tipped pale beaks.)

Desert Finch breeds in SE Turkey and the Middle East trough Iran, Afghanistan, N Pakistan, and in Middle/Central Asia from the SE Caspian east through the foothills of the Tian Shan to the western Kunlun Shan in the south and discontinuously in the north through W Xinjiang, N Qinghai and Gansu to the Gobi Desert, Inner Mongolia. A claim of three observations from different areas in Mongolia in August 2001, listed in an unpublished trip report (copy in my library) would seem best regarded as unproven given the lack of any comments and lack of substantiating evidence.

The observation today would constitute the first confirmed record of Desert Finch for Mongolia if accepted. (Desert Finch is species no. 197 for Khovd since late October 2005. And a great bird to become species no. 350 on my personal Mongolia list!).

Desert Finch, 8 April 2007 Khovd. Photos © A. Braunlich

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