(1204) Oreocorys sylvanus (Hodgs.).
THE UPLAND PIPIT.
Oreocorys sylvanus, Fauna B, I., Birds, 2nd ed, vol. iii, p. 299.
The Upland Pipit is a common breeding species in the Outer Himalayas from Afghanistan and Kashmir to Garhwal at elevations between 4,000 and 8,000 feet. It has been recorded from Sikkim, but must be a rare bird there, as Stevens never met with it. From Sikkim Eastwards there is no record of its occurrence except in Yunnan, where it was obtained by Forrest on the Lichiang Range at 10,000 feet.
Dodsworth and Jones found this Pipit common in the Simla States between 5,000 and 7,000 feet, while Hume took eggs in the same hills at 4,000 feet. Rattray, Buchanan and others found it equally common round Murree and the Galis, where Rattray took one nest at about 9,000 feet, exceptionally high. Mackinnon, on the other hand, obtained nests near Mussoorie below 4,000 feet, and Whitehead says it is resident and common in the Samana from 4,000 feet upwards.
This fine Pipit frequents open grass-land, sometimes such as is all covered by pasture, at other times, and perhaps in preference, sloping hillsides and uplands where much of the ground is rocky and bare. In Garhwal Osmaston (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xxviii, p. 153, 1921) writes :—“This Pipit occurs in considerable numbers practically throughout the hills. Steep grassy slopes interspersed with bushes or broken up by rocky ground are its favourite haunts, and it is also common in open chir- (Pinus longifolia) forest where there is always abundance of grass.”
In Simla Jones found its nest in the same kind of forest, open pine, but in most cases it breeds in quite open spaces, building its nest either under a stone or rock or in among the roots of a tuft of coarse grass.
The neat is a cup, often a mere pad, of coarse grass and grass-bents lined roughly with finer grasses. Occasionally the nest is fairly well made and the materials compact and well put together, but in most the grass is so loosely interwoven that it comes to pieces as soon as it is removed. It is always well concealed and, even if placed at the entrance to a hollow under a stone, it is always more or less protected by a tuft of grass or a few weeds.
The breeding-season is May and June, but Osmaston took a nest with eggs as early as the 13th April in Garhwal, while Jones in Simla and Rattray in Murree have also taken eggs in the first week in July. They are not, however, double-brooded.
The eggs number three to five and are just like those of Anthus sordidus. The ground is generally white to pale grey or, rarely, buffy stone-colour, and they are covered with numerous freckles and small blotches of grey-brown, reddish-brown or purple-brown, with underlying secondary blotches of grey. In a few eggs the markings are more numerous at the larger end and comparatively sparse elsewhere, but I have no eggs which show definite caps or zones, except one clutch of three which has a buff ground with rather large purplish blotches in a ring round the larger end.
In shape they are broad ovals, rarely rather longer and somewhat pointed ; the texture coarse but fairly close, a few eggs having a faint gloss.
Thirty eggs average 22.6 x 17.5 mm. : maxima 24.0 x 17.2 and 22.3 x 18.2 mm. ; minima 21.4 x 17.9 and 22.5 x 17.0 mm. A clutch of very small eggs taken by Jones, who flushed the bird off the nest, has one egg measuring only 20.2 x 15.0 mm., the other three being little bigger.
1204. Oreocorys sylvanus
(1204) Oreocorys sylvanus (Hodgs.).