(800) Acrocephalus agricolus.
The paddy-field Warbler.
Sylvia (Acrocephalus) agricola Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S., xiii, pt. ii,, p 131 (1844) (Nellore). Acrocephalus agricola Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 359.
Vernacular names. Yerra-kumpa-jitta (Tel.).
Description. Above olive-brown with a tinge of rufous, more pronounced on rump and upper tail-coverts and darker on crown; feathers or wings with obsolete pale edges; an almost white supercilium from the nostrils to behind the ear-coverts; sides of neck and ear-coverts pale whitish brown; below pale buffy-white, the flanks and abdomen more buff and the chin and throat almost pure white.
In May to July the underparts are almost pure white but in Winter they are still more, buff and the whole upper plumage is suffused with rufous.
Colours of soft parts. Iris pale yellow, hazel or light brown; upper mandible dark horny-brown, lower mandible fleshy or yellowish-fleshy; tarsus and feet pinkish brown.
Measurements. Total length about 130 to 135 mm.; wing 53.0 to 60.5 mm.: tail 60 to 65 run..; tarsus about 21 mm.; culmen about 11 to 12 mm. The second primary is equal to the sixth, or more rarely between the sixth and seventh. The first primary is small, about 9 to 10 mm., and very narrow.
Distribution. Breeding in Central Asia to the Himalayas, in Winter throughout India as far East as Bengal and, more rarely,, Assam.
Nidification. The Paddy-field Warbler breeds during June in Kashmir, but probably neither farther South nor East, whilst to the West the breeding-bird seems to be some form of A. concinens. Col, Rattray, amongst many others, has taken its nest in the lakes from Gunderbul to Sambul. He describes them as " beautifully made and very deep cradles of fine grasses woven round two or more stems of a weed or rush, about 18 Inches high above the ground or water, lined with still finer grasses. The weeds to which the nests are attached grow on the large floating islands of decayed vegetation. These islands form very dangerous walking-places as they are not strong and often break up after a storm. The nests are seldom in thick growth of weeds but on the outskirts and they are never built in colonies. The birds are very noisy when one approaches the nest." The eggs number three or four. In ground-colour they vary from a pure white to a pale green and they are spotted and blotched with dark and pale sienna-brown and secondary markings of grey, lavender and neutral tint. The blotches are nearly always more numerous at the larger end, where they form a cap or ring. In shape they vary from short broad ovals to rather long ovals- Forty eggs average 16.8 x 12.9 mm: the maxima are 19.0 x 12.7 ana 17.0 x 14.1 mm.; the mini ma 14.4 x 12.2 and 17.0 x 12.1 mm.
Habits. The Paddy-field Warbler is in all its ways very much like the Common European Reed-Warbler. A noisy active little bird, frequenting reed-beds, weeds and rushes by the water-side, it creeps in and out of the stems constantly uttering its little note of chik-chik, whilst the male every now and then mounts to the top of some high reed and pours forth his jerky, grating, little song. They resent being watched and hide in the lower parts of the thickest reeds when disturbed but within a few minutes of being left resume their activities, both choral and physical. They leave their breeding-haunts for the plains in early October, returning in the end of April and early May.