From other photos of the above bird online, it can be seen to have a long primary projection, equal in distance to that of the tertials. Also, the black of the scapulars looks extensive, with Western Black-eareds apparently showing slightly less black in the scaps.
Anyways, comparing the two black throated birds above, got me reminiscing about the Upton Heath bird of June 2000. This bird, that was found on 25th June 2000, stayed till the following day, allowing many observers to see it.
The bird was accepted by BBRC as an Eastern O.h.melanoleuca (See the British Birds magazine Rare Bird Report for 2000 http://www.bbrc.org.uk/download/2000BBRCReport.pdf)
In it, it says photographs clearly shows the black above the bill base that O.h.hispanica lacks. This comment isn't entirely accurate as some well mark Westerns can show alittle black above the bill base.
Lets take a fresh look at the Upton Heath bird and see if you agree with my conclusion.
|The Upton Heath Black-eared Wheatear. This is a white throated male. The brown feathers in the wing of this bird ages it as a 1st-summer. Note the lack of black above the bill and the eye and also the very limited amount of black beyond the ear coverts. Also, the black scapulars don't look particularly extensive. © P. & C. Leigh http://www.firecrest-wildlife-photography.co.uk/|
|Here's a closer look at the head. I see no obvious black above the bill base. Note the white uppermost scapulars too. © P. & C. Leigh http://www.firecrest-wildlife-photography.co.uk/|
In other photos I've seen of this bird, it also appears to show a primary projection that's slightly shorter than the length of the tertials. The amount of black on the face and scapulars and primary projection tell me the Upton Heath bird is in fact a Western Black-eared Wheatear O.h.hispanica. If not, it is at best unassignable to form. It should be remembered that the age of the bird shouldn't affect the amount of black showing at this time of year. Also, though looking very piebald in the field, this doesn't rule out Western, as worn 1st-summer male Westerns can look very black and white.
Here are some links to the two forms. Look at the extent of black in the face and scapulars and also primary projections. Note, I think there is overlap between the two forms as regards black in the scapulars and also Westerns can have a primary projection equal in length to that of Easterns.
Western Black-eared Wheatears
Eastern Black-eared Wheatears
Thankyou to Carole Leigh for letting me use the photos of the Upton Heath Black-eared Wheatear, as it was crucial to this post.
Comments are very much welcome on my thoughts here.