Atlas Wheatear - Oenanthe seebohmi

Monday morning at 8:00 hours on 22 May 2017 an odd black-throated wheatear Oenanthe was seen by Nick van der Marel at Kijkduin, Den Haag ZH. He warned his colleague Garrit Hendriks and Garrit was able to take some pictures. They warned another colleague, Gerjon Gelling, who was just too late as the bird had disappeared. The photo's showed a black-throated wheatear and most probably an Atlas Wheatear. The observation was put on the Dutch Bird Alerts, so in no time a lot of birders gathered and tried to found the bird again.
The bird was not found and several birders went home again, but at around 17:31 Hans Lucas, not aware of the sighting, observed at Solleveld a black-throated wheatear and reported the observation at as a probable Pied Wheatear O. pleschanka. This record was also made publicly, but Solleveld was not open to the public. Some birders living in Den Haag did have an official licence to enter the area and the bird was quickly found. Outside the area c 100 birders were desperately trying to get access, but this could only be possible the next day. Then at around 20:20 the bird moved to the northern part of Solleveld and from a nearby camping - and open to public - birders could see the bird without interruption till 22:00 hours.
I didn't thought I would make it in time, but when I checked how long it would take to drive from Alkmaar to Den Haag, it was 1 hour and 1 minute (91 km) and the sun would set at 21:43. So I started driving at 20:33. I missed an exit near Den Haag, so my estimated time to arrive (ETA) was 21:37. Max Berlijn and Jaap Denee told me where to park the car, so I had to reset the navigation system again at a gas station, but the ETA became 21:35. When I arrived I had 10 minutes so I had to run the last 600 meters. At a t-junction I was directed into the wrong direction by some competitive birder, so I lost some five minutes. I arrived at the place at 21:51 hours and several birders put me behind a telescope. The bird disappeared at 22:00 hours, making me and Ferdy Hierselaar the last persons to see the bird. The next day it was gone.

22 May 2017, Solleveld, Den Haag ZH; © Arnoud van den Berg. Note the blue-grey mantle and the (very extensive!) black throat. Also a good feature may be the black tibia feathers (thanks to Gert Ottens).

22 May 2017, Solleveld, Den Haag ZH; © Vincent van der Spek. Note the amount of the black on the throat, extending to the shoulders.

22 May 2017, Solleveld, Den Haag ZH; © Jan van der Laan. Photographed with 6400 iso without tripod.

22 May 2017, Solleveld, Den Haag ZH; © Jan van der Laan. Photographed with 6400 iso without tripod; the vibration reduction gives strange side-effects!

22 May 2017, Solleveld, Den Haag ZH; © Leo Boon.

It was accepted as the first record for the Netherlands and northern Europe. Previous records were from Gibraltar and Malta. There are records from the Canary Islands and even from Cameroon (the southernmost record) and Tunisia, Libya and Egypt (the easternmost records); cf Dutch Birding 39 (3): 221-222, 2017.

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