(1208) Otocoris alpestris elwesi,
Elwes's Horned Lake:.
Otocorys elwesi Blanf., J. A. S. B., xli, p. 62 (1872) (Kangra-Lama Pass); Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 321.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Similar to the Long-billed Horned Lark but much paler, less streaked and more vinous above. It is a much smaller bird with a comparatively still smaller hill.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown ; bill greyish-horny, the culmen darker and nearly black; legs and feet black, soles yellowish.
Measurements. Wing 108 to 120 mm.; tail 78 to 87 mm.; tarsus 23 to 24 ram.; culmen 12 to 14 mm.
Young. Only differ from those of the Long-billed Horned Lark. in being smaller!
Distribution. Sikkim, Nepal, South and Western Tibet, Ladakh to the Koko-Nur and Nan-Schan.
Nidification. Elwes's Horned Lark breeds in great numbers, in Tibet and Ladakh, between 12,000 and 15,000 feet, on the vast stony plains and plateaus which are such a common feature of the Himalayas in these parts. Of vegetation there is nothing but a little coarse and stunted grass and a few small bushes, eaten by goats and sheep down to within a few inches of the ground. Tinder one of these bushes or tufts of grass this Lark makes its nest in a small natural hollow. As a rule the nest is very meagre, a few roots and scraps of grass mixed with a certain amount of down and perhaps a feather or two ; rarely a more ambitious attempt is made and occasionally a really compact, well put-together pad is made of roots and grass mixed with goats* and yaks' hair and well lined with vegetable down. The eggs generally number two or three, occasionally four. They are like those of the other species but smaller and, as a whole, are less regularly of the yellow type, many eggs being quite indistinguishable from those of the larger Sky-Larks. Eighty eggs average 23.9 x 16.6 mm.: maxima 25.1 X 17.3 and 25.0 x 17.5 mm.; minima 23. x 16.7 and 24.1 X 16.7 mm.
The birds breed from the middle of May until the end of July and may possibly have two broods in warm years.
Habits. Those of the genus. They are found up to 17,000 feet and are resident all the year round, in Winter up to the snowline and down to about 10,000 feet. Like all the birds of this genus they are extraordinarily hardy and will stand intense cold and blizzards such as few living things can contend against.