(2168) Capella nemoricola.
Gallinago nemoricola Hodg., P. Z. S., 1836, p. 8 (Nepal) ; Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 285,
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Adult male. Forehead brown, changing to black on the crown and nape; a rufous median stripe; supercilium and sides of the head white, fulvous-white or pale fulvous, speckled with brown and with broad brown bands running from the lores and from under the ear-coverts to the nape; chin white, generally unspeckled, sometimes faintly dotted with brown; upper back and scapulars velvety-black, the former near the nape much marked with rufous and the latter broadly edged with the same; lower back and rump duller black with rufous bars, more or less whitish in front on the former; upper tail-coverts barred rufous and blackish-brown, the former colour predominating; central tail-feathers black with two rufous bars and tips, the subterminal bars very broad; outer tail-feathers barred dull white and black ; wings brown, the coverts edged and barred with fulvous, the primaries and primary coverts tipped with a pale edging, inner secondaries barred throughout with fulvous or fulvous-rufous; breast fulvous or fulvous-white barred brown; remainder of lower parts, including the abdomen, white barred closely with brown and with the under tail-coverts generally strongly tinted with rufous; axillaries and under wing-coverts dark brown with narrow white bars.
Colours of soft parts. Irides dark brown; bill horny-brown, more or less tinged with green, the tip darker and the basal two-thirds of the lower mandible yellowish; legs dark plumbeous-green.
Measurements. Wing 133 to 141 mm, ; tail 63 to 74 mm.; tarsus about 30 to 36 mm.; culmen 61 to 67 mm.; bill, depth at base about 12 to 13 mm. Weight "4.9 to 6.1 oz." (Hume), 6 1/2 oz. (Livesey), 7 oz. (Jerdon).
Adult female. Does not differ from the male and is probably about the same in size or very little bigger, though with a longer bill. The two longest bills I have measured were 66 mm. and 66.5 mm. and both belonged to female birds.
Young bird. Judging from a single specimen of a young bird in the Indian Museum with a wing of 127 mm. and a bill of 59 mm., it would appear that in young birds the darker colours predominate over the paler more than in the adult. The dark bars on the lower plumage are distinctly broader and more close together, and the whole appearance in this specimen is far darker than I have seen in any adult bird; the feathers of the back and wing are very narrowly fringed with white.
Distribution. The Wood-Snipe is found in the Himalayas from Dalhousie on the west to the Southern Shan States on the East. In Winter it is found in the hills of Coorg, Wynaad, Nilgiris, Anamalis, Shevaroys etc., whilst on migration it has occurred at Calcutta, Bundelkhend, Serguja, Nasik, Dharwar and Mandla in the Central Provinces. It is comparatively common in the hills and adjacent plains of South Assam and wanders South in Burmah to Tenasserim. Birds from the Southern Shan States are very dark and dull and may eventually have to be separated but more material is badly wanted.
Nidification. The record of the eggs taken by Mandelli in Sikkim seems to refer to the Solitary Snipe and not to this bird. In the Khasia Hills a Wood-Snipe, trapped on her nest with four eggs on the 16th of June, was brought to me with one of the latter, the other three having been broken by the bird in her struggles. The nest was merely a pad of fine soft grass in a depression in bracken growing on the banks of a stream running through forest. The only egg saved is abnormally small, measuring 38.0 x 27.0 mm.; the other three were said to have been much bigger. In colour the egg is pale yellowish-stone with sparse primary blotchings of dark vandyke-brown and subsidiary ones of grey ; at the larger end both markings form a dense ring.
Habits. The Wood-Snipe is probably a resident bird throughout the lower Himalayas from Garhwal to Yunnan and the Shan States between 6,000 and 2,000 feet. On the other hand specimens have been obtained up to 12,000 feet and again in the foot-hills of Assam and adjacent plains. It frequents the heaviest and densest of elephant-grass, reeds etc. growing either in swamps or on the banks of streams and is therefore a difficult bird to obtain and still more difficult to observe. In parts of the Shan States it must be very common, as Capt. R. Livesey records shooting twenty in one day. Its flight is heavy, slow and wavering and, when disturbed, it flies only for a hundred yards or so and then flops into cover again. The only note I have heard is a guttural croak, uttered when first put up.