(1190) Anthus sordidus similis.
The Rufous Bock-Pipit.
Anthus similis Jerdon, Madr. Jour. L. S., xi, p. 35 (1840) (Nilgiris). Anthus cockburniae. Oates (in Blanf. & Oates), ii, p. 305.
Vernacular Names. None recorded.
Description. Upper plumage dark brown, each feather edged with fulvous but the black centres dominating the general appearance; tail black, edged with fulvous, the outermost pair of rectrices with the outer web and half the inner web pale rufous, the next pair broadly tipped with the same ; wing-feathers dark brown, boldly edged with bright fulvous; an ill-defined supercilium fulvous; lores and a line through the eye dark brown : sides of the head mixed fulvous and brown; chin and throat pale fulvous, remaining lower plumage fulvous, the posterior flanks, vent and under tail-coverts darker and rufescent; a line of spots down each side of the throat and neck and central spots on the breast and anterior flanks blackish-brown.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown ; bill dark brown above, paler and yellowish below ; legs and feet fleshy-white to reddish-fleshy.
Measurements. Length about 225 mm.; wing 86 fro 96 mm.; tail 69 to 84 mm.; tarsus 28 to 29 mm.; culmen 15 to 16 mm.
Young birds appear to be a deeper rufous below.
Distribution. Breeding in the Nilgiris and Palni Hills, occasionally wandering as far North as the Deccan, Jalna and Ahmadnagar in the Winter. Bourdillon also records it as breeding in the higher hills of Travancore, possibly in error.
Nidification. The Rufous Rock-Pipit breeds in the Nilgiris above 6,000 feet during April and early May, making a nest and laying eggs quite indistinguishable from those of the preceding bird. It chooses, however, sites in the wilder, more rocky parts rather than in the grass plateaus frequented by the Nilgiri Pipit and it also nearly always places its nest under a stone or rock. Eggs taken by Howard Campbell in April and by Miss Cockburn and Betham in May have a pale grey or stone-coloured ground, in some minutely speckled or spotted all over with grey-brown or reddish-brown, in one boldly blotched at the larger end. The eggs number one or two, rarely three. Ten eggs average 22.8 x 17.0 mm. and vary between 21.6 x 16.0 and 24.0 x 17.5 mm.
Habits. This Pipit is apparently a wilder, more shy bird than most but is not uncommon on the higher, barer parts of the Nilgiris. It perches on rocks rather than bushes and trees both when resting or when disturbed from feeding on the ground. Its flight is stronger and quicker than that of most Pipits but it is normally sedentary and its occurrence below the higher hills seems to be casual only.