(182) Babax waddelli Dresser.
THE GIANT TIBET BABAX.
Babax waddelli, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. i, p. 189.
This fine Babax was discovered during the Tibetan Expedition of 1903-4 on the Gyantse Plateau between 12,000 and 14,000 feet. Walton observes : “When we arrived at Gyantse, on April 11th,
I found these birds in two small plantations. They were in troupes of five or six, and kept mainly to the ground, hopping about and turning over leaves etc.” He did not, however, obtain nests. Capt. Steen, and after him Capt. Kennedy, and others, found them breeding round Gyantse in some numbers. Steen sent eggs to Dresser, together with the following note :—“ This bird nests in most of the Jungles on the Gyantse Plain. The nest was made of small twigs, grass and wool, and lined with fine grass. It was placed near the top of a small sapling and contained three eggs, but sometimes four are laid. I have found nests in old Willow-trees and in low scrub-jungle. The bird is very secretive, runs swiftly or flies low from one cover to another, and is most difficult to shoot. The adult male was found sitting on the nest” (Ibis, 1900, p. 339).
Ludlow also took several nests (Ibis, 1928, p. 56) and writes : “Nest construction begins early in April, and eggs may be obtained in late April and throughout May. The nest is a large ragged structure of twigs, fibres, dried grass and bits of wool, and is generally placed in a thorn bush six or seven feet from the ground. I never found more than three eggs in a clutch, sometimes only two, though Capt. Steen says four are sometimes laid.”
I have received many nests and eggs of this species from Steen, Kennedy and others, with good notes, but these add little to the above. In two cases the lining has been composed of wool and goat’s hair, though most have been lined with grass only. One nest from Steen was built on a Pollard-willow 10 feet from the ground, some in thorn-bushes between 5 and 7 feet, and others quite low down in scrub and stunted thorn bushes. Two nests measured by me made them out to be roughly about 9 or 9.1/2 inches across the top and, I should think, about 4 to 6 inches deep. These measurements, however, are only approximate, as both nests were considerably damaged in transit. The internal cup may have been, when new, about 6 inches by 3.
I have never had more than three eggs sent to me in a clutch. They are the same beautiful deep, spotless, turquoise-blue as those of the other species but are much bigger. In shape they arc decidedly long ovals, in only a few instances the smaller end being slightly pointed.
Twenty-four eggs average 33.1 x 21.6 mm. : maxima 36.1 x 21.2 and 33.2 x 23.0 mm. ; minima 31.0 x 21.3 and 31.4 x 20.0 mm.
Most of the eggs sent me were taken in May but I have one set taken in June, collected by Col. F. M. Bailey, and one taken on the 12th July by Capt. Kennedy.
182. Babax waddelli Dresser
(182) Babax waddelli Dresser.