Rare Asia Minor visitor reported from the Bulgarian Black Sea coast.

April 5, 2013, during a local birding tour with Canadian birdwatchers, we observed a small bird with a lot of white not far from Branta Birding Lodge, just along the coastal road between the villages of St. Nikola and Kamen bryag (North Black Sea coast of Bulgaria). I recognized the bird as the Caucasian subspecies of Twite, the so called Asia Minor Twite (Carduelis flavirostris brevirostris). This form is very different to those we see in NW Europe. I recognized the bird from my several birding tours in Azerbaijan. The bill of our boy was longer and not yellow but whitish with a lot of dark (black) lower mandible (see photo). The tip of the upper mandible was also black. Also the overall colour of the Twite is buffy, especially in the throat, neck and breast. Our bird shows a lot more white on throat, belly and rectrices compared to Twite that has buffy rectrices. The wing bar on our bird was bright white compared to the buffy wing bar on the Twite. The marginal coverts of our boy had a bright white arc while the Twite doesn't have any such marking. Finally the overall appearance of the bird contrasts black and white with very intensive black spotting on the breast comparing to the more muted buffy striping on the Twite. The rump was light pink. It is not a regular bird for Europe and even for Bulgaria for sure! It was probably swept up from the Caspian coast and blown to the Bulgaria´s Via Pontica flyway.
To the best of my knowledge this observation is the first in Bulgaria for this amazing sub-species.
Photo and text by Pavel Simeonov (Bed & Birding)

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