(812) Elaphrornis palliseri.
Palliser's Ant-Warbler .
Brachypteryx palliseri Blyth, J. A. S. B., xx, p. 178 (1851) (Ceylon). Elaphrornis palliseri. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 191.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. A grey supercilium from the bill to the anterior ear-coverts dull grey; a ring round the eye rather paler grey; lores and a patch under the eye deep brown, paling to grey on the posterior ear-coverts, which have white shafts; remainder of: upper plumage and exposed parts of wings and tail rufous olive-brown, most rufous on the tail and upper tail-coverts; chin fulvous-white; throat rusty-fulvous; lower plumage slaty-olive, the centre of the abdomen paler and more yellow, and the posterior flanks, vent and under tail-coverts rufous-brown.
Colours of soft parts. Iris red-brown to bright red; bill horny-black, the lower mandible paler and more slaty at the base; legs and feet deep neutral brown or purplish brown, claws paler. The female has the iris buff.
Measurements. Total length about 120 mm.; whig 60 to 64 mm.; tail 55 to 66 mm.; tarsus about 27 mm.; bill about 14 mm.
Young are like the adult, but want the rufous throat and chin, these parts being whitish with slaty-olive tips to the feathers. The underparts generally are more yellow as in the young of Tribura.
Distribution. Ceylon only.
Nidification. Palliser's Ant-Warbler breeds in Ceylon during February, March and April, at elevations of about 5,000 feet upwards. Bligh took its nest with young in 1870 and nearly forty years later eggs were sent me as of this species but without a parent bird. Finally in 1911 Capt. T. P. Aldworth took a nest with two eggs. The nests are made of moss, twigs and grass-stalks, lined with skeleton leaves and fibre. In shape they are very deep cups and they are placed low down in dense low bushes, generally in glades in deep forest and close to water.
The eggs are either two or three (Legge) in number, and are very like dull finely freckled eggs of some Bulbuls, but the texture is coarser and is glossless. The ground-colour is a pale dull cream and they are freckled all over with dull pinkish brown generally coalescing' to form a ring or cap at the larger end, where there are one or two hair-streaks of dark brown. They measure about 22.0 x 16.1 mm.
Habits. This curious little bird frequents dense forests, and especially such as have undergrowth of " nilloo-scrub " or " elephant-grass," and is of such shy retiring habits that it is most difficult to find or observe. It has a sharp single little note which it utters constantly, as it hunts through the lower bushes and grass, every now and then descending to the ground in its search tor insects. Holdsworth says that when on the ground it has a habit of flicking its tail like a Robin. Legge syllabifies its note as quitze. It is not found below 4,000 feet and is most common on the Horton Plains above 5,000 feet, where it is resident all the year round.