(1125) Emberiza cla Stracheyi Moore,
THE EASTERS MEADOW-BUNTING.
Emberiza cla Stracheyi, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed, vol. iii, p. 205.
This, the most common and best known of all our Indian Buntings, breeds in great numbers in the Himalayas from Kashmir to Garhwal and Ladak. It is common in Kuman also between 5,000 and 8,000 feet, as in the other States, occasionally breeding up to some 1,000 feet higher still. The highest actual record of a nest that I can find is of one taken by Osmaston in the Lidar Valley at 8,700 feet. Hume gives its breeding range as between 4,000 and 9,000 feet, but gives no instances of eggs being taken at either of these extremes. Osmaston, however, says it is common in Kashmir up to 10,500 feet, while he records one specimen at 11,500 feet at Sabu, near Leb, on the 25th July.
This Bunting is found on the wide open hill-sides of GarhwalEMBERIZA CIA STRACHEYI.
The Eastern Meadow-Bunting, (Pahlgam, Lidar Valley, Kashmir, 7,300 ft., 22. 5. 32.)
Kashmir and. Kuman interspersed, between the forest. It prefers gently sloping hill-sides covered with grass and flowers and a certain amount of bush and scrub, with odd boulders and rocks lying about. It is not found on the barer stone and boulder-covered hills which seem to appeal to the tastes of E. stewarti.
Its nest is placed on the ground under the shelter of a tuft of grass, a bush, a rock or some loose boulder. Generally it is very well concealed but, as the bird sits close, she generally gives away its position.
In the Lidar Valley Osmaston took many nests on rather bare rocky bills, covered here and there with bushes and with a plentiful growth of Indigofera between the rocks, and it was among the roots of this plant that most of his nests were discovered.
It does not always, however, keep to the open for breeding purposes, as Davidson records (Ibis, 1898, p. 30):—“It was not uncommon in the thicker forests, and one nest we got there was in the low bough of a fir-tree, about nine feet from the ground.”
Often they will make their nests in small natural hollows in banks, both in the open and in forest, and Jones found one nest built in a hole in a road-side cutting in forest, the nest being well hidden by overhanging weeds and grass.
The nest is the usual flimsy Bunting affair ; a cup, shallow or deep according to the position in which it is placed, and built of grass with a lining of hair. In most of the nests found by Osmaston a good many weed-stems were mixed with the grass on the outside and some fine grass in the hair lining. Rattray took nests round Murree in some of which the outer walls consisted of roots, grass and fibre, and the lining of grass-stems only.
Hume gives the measurements of the nests as “from 3 to 4 inches, in diameter. A nest of this species obtained near Koteghur was a moderate-sized pad of grass, about 5 inches long by about 4 broad, and perhaps 2 inches in thickness. Towards one end of this was a beautiful little saucer-like cavity, perfectly circular, about 2 inches in diameter and 0.75 in depth, lined first with very fine grass-stems and then again, at the bottom of the cavity, with fine white hairs.”
The principal breeding season seems to be June and early July, but there are a good many records of its breeding in the latter half of May and as late as the first ten days of August. It does not seem that many birds have two broods.
Hume gives the normal clutch of eggs as four, often three, and rarely five. In my own series—obtained from many sources— three seems to be the number in a clutch at least three times out of four, and five is absolutely exceptional, The only clutch I have of this number is one taken by Whymper near Naini Tal at about 5,000 feet.
The eggs vary very little in appearance and are quite typical of the genus. The ground is almost white tinged normally with grey- blue or pinkish-buff, or, very rarely, with pale dull green. Many eggs have a “plummy” tinge rather than buff. The markings consist of spots, blotches and scrawls, mostly the latter, of deep reddish-brown or purple-black, with fainter secondary ones of pale reddish. The scrawls are sometimes bold streaks scattered here and there over the surface, but in most cases they are very fine, generally denser at the larger end, where they sometimes form rings of very fine, very long, intertwisted lines.
In shape the eggs are rather long ovals, the texture rather fine and close, sometimes showing a faint gloss, but sometimes quite .glossless.
One hundred eggs average 21.5 x 15.4 mm. : maxima 23.2 x 15.7 and 21.7 x 16.8 mm. ; minima 19.4 x 15.3 and 21.3 x 14.8 mm.
Both sexes take part in building the nest, but the female alone seems to carry on incubation.
1125. Bmberiza cia stracheyi
(1125) Emberiza cla Stracheyi Moore,