(2101) Arenaria interpres interpres.
Tringa interpres Linn., Syst. Nat., i, p. 148 (1758) (Sweden). Strepsilas interpres. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 222.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Breeding plumage. Extreme point of forehead black, running back to the eye and thence round over the anterior ear-coverts and cheeks to meet another black line from the base of the lower mandible; this black then extends down the sides of the neck to meet the black breast and fore-neck, and runs up the sides of the neck to form a demi-collar; face white; crown, nape, hind-neck and posterior sides of neck pure white, the crown and nape streaked with black and a black patch on each side of the nape; upper back black, the centre rufous streaked with black; scapulars rufous and black with small white edges; lower back white, rump and shorter upper tail-coverts black ; longer tail-coverts white; central tail-feathers black with broad white bases; outermost white with a broad subapical band of black, intermediate feathers grading from one to another; wing-coverts brown edged paler and the inner slightly splashed with rufous; the least coverts next the scapulars brown, with broad white edges; primaries brown, the inner webs edged with white; shafts white ; outer secondaries white with brown subterminal patches ; inner secondaries barred black and rufous; a patch of chestnut under the wing next the breast; remainder of underparts white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill black; legs and feet orange-red; claws black.
Measurements. Wing 143 to 155 mm.; tail 76 to 79 mm.; tarsus about 24 to 27 mm.; culmen 20 to 23 mm.
In non-breeding plumage. The upper plumage is dark brown, each feather edged paler; the scapulars have concealed white bases ; lower back, rump and tail as in breeding plumage; wing-coverts brown, the least and the primary coverts broadly tipped with white ; fore-neck and sides of breast brown, the feathers with pale edges ; a ring round the eye white; sides of head and neck brown more or less streaked with white; chin, throat, centre of breast and remainder of lower plumage white.
Nestling in down. Upper plumage pale fulvous, much mottled with black; the crown more golden-fulvous, with the marks forming a well-defined central and two lateral streaks; on the lower back also three fairly well-defined streaks can be discerned; a band across the fore-neck dusky ; rest of lower plumage white.
Young in first plumage blackish-brown above with rufous edging to each feather.
Distribution. Breeding in Subarctic Europe and Western Asia and in Winter South to the Canaries, North Africa, India, Burma, Malaya, and Sumatra. Within Indian limits it is extremely common in the North of India and Burma, generally on the coast-lines, as far South as Bombay and the Laccadives, and it has also occurred in Ceylon. There are specimens from Malacca in full breeding-dress and it occurs as far East as Annam.
Nidification. The Turnstone breeds from Greenland to Eastern Siberia as far South as the Southern islands of the Baltic. It is very partial to quite small islands, occasionally two pairs sharing the same island. The eggs, three or four, are laid in depressions scratched in the sand or shingle, as a rule with no lining, sometimes with a few bents or scraps of moss. In the North the site selected is quite in the open but in the South it occasionally chooses a spot protected by a tuft of grass or something similar. The eggs are distinctive; rather long eggs for Waders, generally a decidedly olive-tinged ground-colour with rather light brownish primary and pale grey or livid secondary markings, these often rather spiral in character. Jourdain gives the average of one hundred eggs as 40.5 x 29.2 mm.: maxima 44.5 x 30.4 and 43.2 x 31.3 mm.; minima 36.0 x 28.2 and 40.5 x 26.0 mm.
In the South most eggs are laid between the 20th of May and the 10th of June but in the North about a month later.
Habits. The Turnstone keeps entirely to the sea-coast, where it feeds, just above the tide, on small Crustacea, molluscs and worms, hunting for them under the stones and heavy shells, which it turns over with its bill. It is an active little bird, running in little bursts here and there, its head tucked well in and held low. It flies fast, wheeling with great speed and is generally found in small parties of a dozen to thirty or forty. When migrating in October and again in April it may occasionally be found inland but this is exceptional. Messrs. Moore and Monday shot three, two in full breeding plumage, in Dibrugarh, flying North on April the 9th.