(479) Cinclus pallasii tenuirostris Bonaparte.
THE INDIAN BROWN DIPPER.
Cinclus pallasii tenuirostris, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 4.
The breeding area of this Dipper ranges from Turkestan to the foot-hills of the Himalayas from Naini-Tal, Murree and Garhwal to the extreme East of Assam, North of the Brahmapootra, but not in the hills South of that river.
As regards elevations, Blanford recorded it in Summer and, therefore, presumably breeding, at 12,000 feet, and with less certainty at 14,000 feet in the Lachung Valley, Sikkim, but Stevens only records it up to 7,500 feet in that country and speaks of it as rare, “only a few scattered birds.” In Ladakh Osmaston found a nest at 9,500 feet in the Dras River and Meinertzhagen says it is common at Dras itself, 10,500 feet, in April. In Kashmir it breeds certainly from 3,000 feet (Hume—“Mandi, below Drung”) upwards, whilst in the Kuman Whymper took many nests between 4,000 and 5,000 feet and says that he never saw a nest at a higher elevation than the latter. Finally, Stevens took two nests and saw another in the foot-hills of North Lakhimpur only a few hundred feet above sea-level.
This Dipper frequents rivers generally of some size. Stevens says of Sikkim :—“This Dipper frequents every river of importance where it can procure sufficient sustenance, and only on occasions forsakes its accustomed haunts for the minor streams” ; and again, of North Lakhimpur he writes :—“In the cold season the limits of the fast-flowing water apparently restrict their range. The ‘gagris,’ or rapids, in the wild gorges are their favourite haunts.” Their time for breeding varies with the different elevations at which they breed. Hume says :—
“This Dipper lays at very different periods, according, perhaps, to season and elevation. I took a nest in an affluent of the Sutlej above Kotighur, at an elevation of something over 5,000 feet, in the first week of May. I took two nests in Mandi, below Drung, at an elevation of perhaps 3,000 feet, on the 27th April.
“Capt. Cock took two nests on the 12th and 20th March near Dhurrumsala, at an elevation of about 4,000 feet ; but they lay earlier also, as Captain Hutton wrote to me that “on the 27th December we found a pair employed in preparing a nest at Raj pore. On the 18th January we again visited the nest and found three eggs.” In Assam they breed very early. Stevens records “Subansiri Gorge, second defile between Ganditola and Sifoo Mukh, 29.1.06. Two nests each containing five eggs placed in niches in the rock a few feet above the water, only accessible by boat ; a third, too high up to reach on the precipitous face of the rocks.” He also shot a fully-fledged young bird on the 26th February.
In Kuman Whymper found many nests between the 15th January and 15th February.
Nests taken by Hume at Mandi “were large balls of moss some seven inches in diameter, wedged into clefts of moss- and fern- covered rocks—the one, half under a little cascade, the other about a foot above the water’s edge in the side of a rock standing in the midst of a broad deep stream. Each nest had a circular aperture in front, about 2.5 inches in diameter ; the cavity was about 4 inches in diameter, lined with moss-roots in the one nest, and with these and a few dry leaves in the other. Each contained five eggs. Other nests I have seen were huge globular masses of interwoven moss, nearly a foot in diameter and fully 8 inches high, something like a gigantic Wren’s nest, with a neatly worked circular aperture on one side and an internal cavity, about 4-5 inches in diameter and 3 inches high, lined with dry leaves and fern and moss-roots. I have never known more than five eggs in a nest.” Whymper says that he found most nests “domed and made of moss and dried grass, or of moss above, with an inner lining of fine grass, placed on rocks beside some pool of a swiftly flowing river, or mountain stream. Sometimes as much as six feet above the water but often only one or two feet above it. They seem to be generally artfully hidden under masses of fallen leaves, so that what would otherwise be a very conspicuous object looks merely like a mass of drifted leaves and rubbish.
“Other nests may be placed on rocks and islets in mid-stream but here, too, the fallen leaves are used to make the observer who sees the nest pass it by as the collections of a past flood. They are early breeders ; I have seen young by the end of January, but February is the month in which most eggs are laid.”
The number of eggs laid is generally five, often four only, whilst one nest taken by Whymper contained six eggs. These are similar to other Dippers’ eggs.
Fifty eggs average 26.6 x 18.4 mm. : maxima 29.2 x 20.2 mm. ; minima 24.4 x 18.1 and 25.1 x 17.2 mm.
479. Cinclus pallasii tenuirostris
(479) Cinclus pallasii tenuirostris Bonaparte.