851. Anthus spinoletta.
Alauda spinoletta, Linn. Syst, Nat. i, p. 288 (1766). Anthus aquaticus, Bechst. Naturg. Deutschl. iii, p. 745 (1807) ; Scully, S. F. iv, p. 152. Anthus blakistoni, Swinh. P. Z. S. 1863, pp. 90, 273; id. Ibis, 1867, p. 389 ; Hume, S. F. v, p. 345 ; id. Cat. no. 605 quat.; Brooks, S. F. viii, p. 484 ; Biddulph, Ibis, 1881, p. 70 ; Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 453; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 237 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 244. Anthus neglectus, Brooks, Ibis, 1876, p. 501; Hume, S. F. v, p. 345. Anthus spinoletta (Linn.), Hume, Cat. no. 605 ter; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 243. Anthus spipoletta (Linn.), Sharpe, Cat. B. M. x, p. 592.
Coloration. The adult has the upper plumage ashy brown, with the feathers streaked or centred darker; the wings brown margined with pale fulvous ; tail brown, the outermost feather with the terminal half obliquely white, the penultimate tipped white ; lores and sides of the bead rufous ; supercilium and the whole lower plumage uniform fulvous or vinous.
The young bird has the upper plumage, wings, and tail like the adult; the supercilium and lower plumage pale isabelline, with narrow ill-defined pale brown streaks on the fore neck and breast, and streaks of the same kind, but much larger, on the sides of the body.
Iris brown ; bill, legs, feet, and claws black (Bingham).
Length about 6.5; tail 2.7; wing 3.5 ; tarsus .85; bill from gape .7; hind claw .4.
This Pipit varies much in size and colour of plumage, and an attempt has been made to establish two species on these variable characters. After examining a very large series of these birds collected in all parts from Europe to China, I am quite unable to discover any grounds for separating the Chinese and Indian bird (A. blakistoni) from the European (A. spinoletta). It is noteworthy that nearly all the Pipits of this species procured in the North-west Provinces of India have the wing under 3.3 in length, whereas European birds have it 3.6 on the average. In the Punjab, however, the large and small birds are met with together, and birds of intermediate size occur everywhere. Chinese birds have the wing 3.4 The alleged differences of striation on the upper and lower plumages are apparently merely matters of age.
Distribution, A winter visitor to Sind, the Punjab, and the Northwest Provinces, the whole of Kashmir and the Himalayas as far east as the Sutlej valley. This Pipit ranges into Europe on the one hand, and into China on the other. It appears to breed in Northern and Central Asia.