(2172) Capella media,
THE Great Snipe.
Scolopax media, Lath., Gen. Syn.,Suppl.,i, p. 292 (1787) (England) Vernacular names, None recorded.
Description. Crown chocolate to black; a narrow buff median coronal line from the base of the bill to the nape; broad lateral coronal lines also buff; a narrow line through the eye black; neck buff streaked with black; back and scapulars black, spotted with buff and with two broad buff lines down the sides of the back; scapulars edged outwardly with buff and spotted and barred with buff or rufous-buff; lower back brown or blackish-grey, changing on the upper tail-coverts to rufous barred with black; tail black at the base, barred rufous and black on the terminal third and tipped paler; outermost tail-feathers nearly all white, penultimate pair white with rufous and black base; wing-coverts mottled black and rufous, tipped with white; primary coverts and primaries black, the former tipped white; a black patch under the eye across the ear-coverts, rest of the sides of the head and neck buff, speckled with black; chin and centre of throat pale buff, immaculate or slightly speckled; fore-neck buff streaked and spotted with blackish ; breast and flanks buff barred with blackish; centre of abdomen white, immaculate or obsoletely barred; under tail-coverts darker rufous barred and streaked with chocolate or black ; axillaries and under wing-coverts barred black and white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill brown or horny-brown ; legs and feet dusky-plumbeous or greenish-plumbeous.
Measurements. Wing 139 to 150 mm.; tail 50 to 62 mm.; tarsus about 32 to 36 mm.; culmen, 57 to 63 mm., 64 to 69 mm. Females are no smaller than males.
Nestling. Upper plumage rich chestnut-rufous; the centre of the crown, centre of back, patches on wing and sides of rump black, the feathers tipped white; line from forehead round eye fulvous, round the eye white; chin and throat bright fulvous; fore-neck dusky, remainder of lower parts rufous-fulvous.
Distribution. Breeding throughout Northern Europe and Western Siberia in Asia, certainly as far East as the Yenesei and probably considerably farther. In Winter it occurs throughout Africa to the extreme South, whilst in Asia it occurs in Palestine, Mesopotamia and Persia and straggles into India whence birds have been recorded thrice: Madras (Derenham); Bangalore (Boxwell); Arkenam, Madras (Peters).
Nidification. The Great Snipe bred in Holland until recently, but now no longer. It still breeds from Denmark and Scandinavia North to Tromso and East to the Yenesei during May and June. The nest is made in swampy ground among rushes and grass, generally in the open but occasionally among bushes and small trees. Must nests have no lining but some have a little tine grass or a few leaves. The eggs are always four in number and are in appearance just like large boldly-marked and handsome eggs of the Common Snipe but are much bigger, Jourdain gives the average of 100 eggs as 45.3 x 31.8 mm. The maxima are 49.5 x 31.8 and 46.2 x 33.3 mm.: minima 41.2 X 31.7 and 46.5 x 29.5 mm.
Habits. The Great Snipe, like others of its genus, is crepuscular in its habits, seldom moving by day. It frequents swamps, marshy fields and wet uplands and is often found on the outskirts of woods or, sometimes, in swamps with scattered trees and shrubs growing in them. Its flight is comparatively slow and heavy, the flapping being like that of the Woodcock without the turns and twists ; as it rises it utters a low harsh croak. It is said to perform evolutions during the breeding-season like that of the Fantail Snipe and to make a sound like " Bip-bip, bipbip, bipbip peree biperee " when seated on the ground with tail widespread.