(1189) Anthus nilghiriensis.
The Nilgiri Pipit.
Anthus nilghiriensis Sharpe, Cat. B, M., x, p. 550 (1885) (Nilgiris). Anthus nilgiriensis. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 305.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. A narrow indistinct supercilium bright fulvous; whole upper plumage and lesser wing-coverts bright olive-fulvous, each feather with a broad black central streak except on the rump, where the streaks are brown and ill-defined and on the shorter tail-coverts, where they are obsolete; tail blackish-brown edged with olive-fulvous, the outermost pair of feathers fulvous-white except diagonally across the base, the next pair with fulvous tips to the outer webs and the terminal half of the inner web also fulvous; the next pair generally with a small fulvous tip; median and greater coverts black with broad fulvous edges, primaries and secondaries blackish, with fulvous edges, very broad on the innermost secondaries; lores dusky; sides of the head bright rufous, mixed with brown on the ear-coverts; whole lower plumage rich fulvous, more tawny on breast, throat and under tail-coverts, the breast and flanks with narrow black streaks; axillaries and under wing-coverts fulvous.
Colours of soft parts. Iris red-brown; bill blackish-brown, paler at the base and on the lower mandible; legs and feet pale reddish-fleshy ; claws darker brown.
Measurements. Total length about 200 mm.; wing 74 to 79 mm.; tail 65 to 69 mm.; tarsus 24 to 25 mm.; culmen 11 to 12 mm.
Distribution. Nilgiris and Palni Hills.
Nidification. This Pipit breeds between 4,000 feet and the summits of the Nilgiri and Palni Hills but most often above 6,000 feet. It breeds during April, May and June, making a shallow saucer-shaped nest of grass and roots, lined with fine grass bents and placed in a shallow depression of the ground under the shelter of a hush or in coarse grass. The eggs number two or three only and are like dull grey types of eggs of the Tree-Pipit: the stipplings are generally fine and numerous, almost obliterating the ground-colour. Thirty eggs average 22.1 x 16.1 mm.: maxima 23.5 x 16.8 and 23.0 x 17.0 mm.; minima 19.6 X 14.9 mm.
Habits. The Nilgiri Pipit is a resident wherever found, not even moving vertically with the seasons. In food, flight, voice etc. it is much the same as the other members of the genus but is not a very tame bird, keeping much to the upland grass-covered hills and plateaus well away from towns and villages.