(834) Graminicola bengalensis bengalensis.
The Large Grass-Warbler.
Graminicola bengalensis Jerd., B. of I., ii, p. 177 (1S63) (Ganges) Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 381.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Head, back to upper tail-coverts black edged with bright rufous, the margins narrowest on the head, but taking up nearly the whole feather on the rump ; feathers of the sides of the neck and on the hind neck with narrow white edges ; tail black, edged with olive-rufous, each lateral pair of tail-feathers with increasingly broad white tips and all the feathers very faintly cross-rayed; lores, slight supercilium and round the eye pale grey ; cheeks and ear-coverts dull rufous ; lower plumage fulvous-white; more ochraceous-fulvous on sides of breast and flanks; under tail-coverts ochraceous with dark shaft-streaks.
Colours of soft parts. Iris reddish brown; bill horny-brown, paler at the base and fleshy on lower mandible; legs and feet fleshy-brown.
Measurements. Total length about 155 to 175 mm.; wing 58 to 63 mm.; tail 73 to 90 mm.; tarsus 24 mm.; culmen 13 to 15 mm.
Young birds are more rufous above, the black centres being narrower; below they are more ochraceous.
Distribution. Nepal Terai, Bhutan Duars, Assam both North and South of the Brahmaputra, Manipur.
Nidification. Although I found this bird very common in Cachar and Sylbet, I never obtained its nests myself. One of my collectors, however, finally succeeded and sent me nests and eggs with the parent-birds, said to have been shot off the nests. These latter were like very large, bulky nests of Reed-Warblers, made of grass, ekra bark and rushes and lined with finer grass ; they were placed low down among ekra or elephant-grass in the endless swamps which run through Cachar and Sylhet during the rainy season. The nests were taken in July and August. The eggs are pale cream or almost white speckled and spotted with light or dark reddish brown, generally fairly numerous over the whole egg, occasionally more so at the larger end where they form a ring or cap. They measure about 17.2 x 14.3 mm.
Habits. Very common in many parts of Assam, where there are swamps completely covered with reed-beds, grass or ekra, daring the rains. The birds I saw were all in these reed-beds, creeping in and out of the stones quietly hunting for insects and very silent. My collector, however, told me that in the rains when they bred they were very noisy, soaring into the air and singing a very harsh loud little song from the top of the reeds.