(1200) Anthus roseatus Hodgs.
THE VINOUS-BREASTED PIPIT.
Anthus roseatus, Fauna B, I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. iii, p. 295.
Hodgson’s Pipit, by which name this bird has hitherto been known, breeds from Afghanistan and Turkestan, throughout the Himalayas, to Kansu, Eastern Tibet, Yunnan and the Northern Shan States. In the Southern Himalayas it is common through¬out Kuman, Garhwal and the Simla States.
This Pipit has been recorded as breeding at 4,500 feet and, perhaps, may do so on very rare occasions in certain localities, but normally its breeding range is from 10,000 to 15,000 feet. The only note recorded of its breeding in Hume’s ‘Nests and Eggs’ is that of Thompson’s native-taken nest (probably quite correct) in Garhwal, and by Mandelli in the Dolaka district of Nepal. Even now, though its breeding habits are so well known, written records are rare and meagre, Whitehead (This, 1909, p. 244) writes :— “This species nests freely on the Safed Koh from 11,000 to 13,000 feet. I found two nests in June, both under stones, per¬fectly concealed, and well and solidly constructed of roots and. grass. In one case I surprised the bird excavating the bellow under a stone for its nest.” Ward took its nest in the Liddar Valley at 10,000 feet, Whymper found numerous nests in Garhwal between 11,500 and 13,000 fect and, finally, Steen, Kennedy and others all found it breeding in some numbers in Tibet.
It is a rare breeding bird in Ladak but, according to Meinertz¬hagen (Ibis, 1927, p. 403) breeds in great numbers on the Deosai Plain, N.W. of Ladak, between 12,000 and 14,000 feet.
Whymper’s notes on the series of eggs sent to me by him may be summed up as follows, and give a good description of its haunts and nest. He says :- “This bird is common in the Nila and other valleys in Garhwal above 11,000 and up to 13,000 or rather more. It keeps almost entirely to open hill-sides covered with grass and. flowers, sometimes also dotted about with bushes, but is never found in the wooded portions. As a rule the nest is built in tussocks of grass, placed on the ground in a depression among, the roots, either a natural one or scratched out by the birds for their nest. Rarely I have found the nest under a rock or in a hollow in a bank where it can be hidden by the surrounding weeds and grass. The nest seems to be always a cup made of grass and lined with still finer grass.”
A. E. Osmaston found one nest lined with the coarse hair of the musk-deer.
Occasionally bracken, leaves and roots are worked into the nest with the grass and, rarely, the walls are raised and prolonged to form a canopy just like that sometimes made by the common Indian Pipit. The nests are larger than those of that bird and the inner cup averages about 3 inches across by 1 to 1.1/2 inch deep.
The birds breed late and the earliest eggs I have are a clutch of Whymper’s taken on the 6th of June, while the latest of which I have any record is the 13th July, taken in Tibet. The normal full clutch is four, but I have two fives taken by Whymper in Garhwal and one five from Gyantse. On the other hand, Ward t found a c/3 well incubated.
In appearance the eggs are typical Pipits’, but are, on the whole, dark and minutely speckled. I have one clutch of three of which the markings are so fine that the eggs appear to be a unicoloured olive-brown with a rather darker cap. Most eggs are either grey or brownish-buff in ground-colour, and are speckled in the first type with dark grey-brown and lavender and in the second with rich brown. Occasionally one gets clutches with a white or pale grey ground fairly boldly speckled and blotched with blackish-brown, the marks contrasting strongly with the ground. Between the darkest eggs and these latter every intermediate type may be found, though the darker greatly predominate. Rings or caps are generally present and in one clutch of pale yellow-grey eggs the markings are confined to dense confluent rings of almost black.
One hundred eggs average 22.0 x 15.0 mm. : maxima 24.1 x 15.8 and 21.3 x 16.4 mm, ; minima 19.5 x 14.6 and 20.7 x 14.4 mm.
1200. Anthus roseatus
(1200) Anthus roseatus Hodgs.