(479) Cinclus pallasii tenuirostris.
The Indian Brown Dipper.
Cinclus tenuirostris Bonaparte. Consp. Av., i, p. 252 (1850) (Central Asia). Cinclus asiaticus. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 163.
Vernacular names. Nambong-karriak (Lepcha) ; Chutia-nakka (Bhut.).
Description. A ring of feathers on the eyelids white, often hardly showing; terminal edges of secondaries white and, in freshly moulted birds, a narrow pale fringe to the greater coverts. With these exceptions the whole plumage is chocolate-brown, the concealed portions of the wings and tail rather darker.
Colours of soft parts. Iris hazel-brown; bill black or nearly so; legs light to dark brown, sometimes tinged with plumbeous ; soles paler and yellowish.
Measurements. Wing 93 to 101 mm.; tail 55 to 60 mm.; tarsus about 28 mm.; culmen 18 to 19 mm.
Distribution. Turkestan,Himalayas from NainiTal and Murree, through Kashmir, Simla Hills, Garhwal, Nepal and Sikkim to East Assam, North of the Brahmaputra and not South of this river.
Nidification. The Brown Dipper breeds throughout its habitat at all heights from the foot-hills up to 14,000 feet, generally nesting below 9,000 feet. In Eastern Assam Stevens found it breeding in the Subansiri Gorge, practically at the level of the plains, m December and January. In Sikkim, Garhwal and further North-West it appears to breed from January and February on to April and even early May, but the later nests may be those of birds whose first broods have been destroyed by floods. The nests are placed in situations similar to those selected by the Kashmir Dipper, but they resort to boulders on banks of streams more often, perhaps, than to those in mid-stream. The nest is the same unwieldy ball of moss and grass, very compactly and stoutly built, measuring externally anything up to a foot in diameter. The walls, however, are so massive that the internal egg-chamber is only some four to five inches in diameter, with an entrance between two and three inches across. The eggs are indistinguishable from those of other Dippers. Twenty eggs average 25.6x 18.3 mm.: maxima 28.1 x 18.4 and 26.1 x 19.1 mm.; minima 24.4 x 18.1 mm. and 25.3 x 17.3 mm.
Habits. Although this Dipper often wanders up to very great heights and even breeds at such when there are suitable streams available, it is essentially a bird of the lower levels from 5,000 or 6,000 feet downwards. It breeds, as already mentioned, in the cold weather almost in the plains, but when the rivers get swollen and muddy in April and May it then seeks higher ranges where the streams rise and fall quickly and soon become clear again even after heavy rain. Stevens writes "one of the wariest of birds, its arrowy flights, as it skims a foot or so above the water, and the inaccessible nature of its haunts make it a most difficult bird to procure specimens of." They have the same shrill cry which seems common to all the Dippers and which they utter at intervals when on the wing.