118. THE EASTERN WHITE-EYED POCHARD.
Nyroca baeri, (RADDE).
Outer primaries with the outer web much darker than the inner; inner primaries with both webs white, like the speculum; all tipped dusky.
Axillaries white, mottled with brown at the tip.
Bill dark, with no trace of red; of about equal width throughout.
Under tail-coverts pure white.
Head and neck black.
MALE :—Head and neck rich glossy black. FEMALE:—Head and neck plain black; a chestnut patch on either side of the base of the upper mandible.
VERNACULAR NAMES :—None known.
As remarked when treating of the last species, it is impossible to say what the range of the Eastern White-eyed Pochard in India may be, but I shall assume the western limit of its migration to be the longitude of Calcutta. There can be little doubt that this species is the White¬ eyed Pochard of Upper Burma, but I have never had the opportunity offered me of examining the Pochard which is so abundant near Mandalay. I may, however, state that when Veterinary Captain G. H. Evans came to the Natural History Museum some little time ago, I happened to have specimens of all the Indian Ducks exposed to view on tables, and he immediately picked out the Eastern White-eyed Pochard as the species he had met with near Myingyan.
Although there is a specimen of this Pochard in the Indian Museum, at Calcutta, dating back to 1842, it was not until quite recently that Mr. F. Finn drew attention to the two allied species and separated them. He appears to have procured many specimens of the Eastern species between November 25th and January 5th in the Calcutta market, and he remarks that for a short time after their first appearance they are as common as their Western relative. He also noticed the Eastern species in the Calcutta market in February.
The present species is only a winter visitor to the eastern part of the Empire. It is probably this Pochard which Mr. Inglis procured in Cachar. It is doubt¬ less also the species of which Mr. Hume remarks :—" Rather scarce in Manipur. I saw it however at two jheels, besides the Logtak, where it was often seen without its being at all in force." Mr. Hume apparently did not shoot any of these birds in Manipur, for there are no specimens from that country in the Hume Collection, and he appears to have assumed that the Manipur birds were of the common Indian species.
Captain F. T. Williams informs me that a Pochard of this type is found on the Chindwin river. Captain T. S. Johnson found a White-eyed Pochard common near Mandalay, and Major G. Rippon writes to me that he is aware of the difference between the two White-eyed Pochards, and that to the best of his belief he has obtained the Eastern species at Shwebo, Minhla, Sagain and Meiktila in Upper Burma, and at Fort Stedman in the Southern Shan States.
This Eastern White-eye is found in summer in Kamtschatka and Eastern Siberia. In winter it migrates to Japan and China, and it will probably be found to be a common bird at that season throughout the Indo-Burmese countries, Upper Burma and the Shan States.
I can find nothing of any interest regarding this Duck in the writings of authors who have treated of the birds of Eastern Asia. Its habits however, are not in the least likely to vary in any important particular from those of the Western White-eyed Pochard. Mr. F. Finn has kept some of these Ducks in captivity in Calcutta. He writes :—" As to the habits of this Duck I have little to say. In general appearance it is lighter and less ' dumpy ' than its near ally; the head and neck and general shape are less Fuliguline than in that species, and recall a Mallard somewhat. It of course swims and dives excellently, and is a less clumsy walker than the Common White-eye. The male has a curious habit of contracting its neck and jerking it backwards in a curve—no doubt a pairing gesture."
This species resembles the Western White-eyed Pochard in the general pattern of its plumage. The difference lies in the colour of the head and neck. In the male of the Eastern species these parts are of a deep black, beautifully glossed with green and purple; there is the same white spot on the chin.
In the female of the Eastern species, the head and neck are black, without any gloss, and slightly brownish in parts. The chin-spot is present. There is also a large patch of chestnut on each side of the face, near the base of the upper mandible. The chestnut of the breast is not so bright as in the male, nor so sharply defined from the white abdomen.
A bird of this species, sexed as a male, which died in the Zoological Gardens of London in June, and the skin of which is preserved in the British Museum, appears to be in post-nuptial plumage. It resembles the male in winter plumage in many respects, having the back and scapulars speckled and vermiculated; and the chestnut of the breast of a dark colour and sharply defined from the white of the abdomen, but it has the head of the female and exhibits a large amount of chestnut on the face and at the base of the bill.
Male : length about 18 ; wing 8 1/4 ; tail 2 1/2. Female : length about 17 1/2; wing 8 ; tail 2 1/2. According to Mr. Finn, the male has the bill dark grey or greyish black with a black nail and a grey patch at the tip; the female has the bill darker, with the grey patch less distinct. The male has white irides, but in one bird of this sex they were pale cloudy greenish yellow; the female has the irides brown, sometimes grey, sometimes a mixture of brown and white. In both sexes, the feet are grey with dark joints; the legs black, The weight has not been recorded.