(2174) Capella megala.
Gallinago megala Swinhoe, Ibis, 1861, p. 343.
Description. Swinhoe's Snipe is in coloration indistinguishable from the Pintail Snipe, but can always be identified by an exami¬nation of the tail. This in Swinhoes Snipe contains only twenty feathers, whereas the Pintail Snipe normally has twenty-six tail-feathers and practically never less than twenty-two. Even, however, when the tail is imperfect, discrimination is easy, for whereas the outer tail-feathers of the Pintail are hardly broader than a pin, those of Swinhoe's Snipe are never under 5 mm. Again, the Pintail has eight or ten of the central feathers non-attenuated, whereas Swinhoe's has only the six central ones showing no attenuation. The white tips to the tail-feathers are more conspicuous than in the Pintail Snipe.
Colours of soft parts. " Iris dark amber-brown; bill light yellowish-brown for the basal two-thirds, yellower on the base of the upper mandible, blackish-brown on the apical third; feet light yellowish-grey with blackish-brown claws " (Swinhoe).
Measurements. Wing 128 to 139 mm.; tail 52 to 57 mm.; tardus about 32 to 34 mm.; culmen 59 to 74 mm.
Young birds are distinguishable by their more uniform dark brown throat and neck ; the stripes on the side of the crown are black without rufous mottling and the upper plumage has the feathers edged paler.
Distribution. Breeding in Eastern Siberia and Northern China. It occurs as far West as the Yenesei but the limits of its Southern breeding are not known. In Winter it migrates to South China, the Philippines, Borneo and the Moluccas. In India it was unknown until 1903, when I obtained a specimen in Lakhimpur. In 1908 a second was obtained in the Shan Stares. Since then records have been numerous, in 1912 no fewer than six being shot in the Chinglepat District of Madras. Probably it occurs yearly in some numbers in Madras and more often in Eastern India and Assam but is overlooked owing to its resemblance to the Pintail Snipe.
Nidification. Very little known. Smirnoff found it. breeding on the Yenesei at the end of May 1921 and took three nests at Uskinskoe. The eggs are exactly like small eggs of the Great Snipe but one clutch of four and a single egg have a distinctly olive-green ground, whilst another single egg has it pale yellowish-stone. In all the markings consist of large blackish and vandyke-brown blotches, more numerous at the larger end with a few underlying ones of lavender and pinkish-grey. In shape they are rather more obtuse ovals than most Snipes' eggs. The six eggs average 40.3 x 28.3 mm. Buturlin also received eggs of this species taken in Eastern Siberia.