(2140) Limnodromus taczanowskiis.
THE SNIPE-BILLED GODWIT.
Micropalama taczanowskia Verreaux, Rev. et Mag. Zool. p. 206, pi. xiv (1860) (Dauria). Macroramphus semipalmatus. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 257.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Breeding plumage. Whole head, neck and lower plumage rufous ; lores and a line through the eye so closely tipped with black as to appear uniformly of that colour ; a line from the forehead and crown closely streaked with black, leaving a rufous line or supercilium on either side ; hmd-neck lightly streaked with black; mantle rufous, each feather broadly centred black, the scapulars, inner secondaries and small coverts edged with grey; lower back and rump white with black centres; upper tail-coverts barred black and white, the longer suffused with rufous: tail barred dark brown and white, the terminal brown bars blurred and broader; least wing-coverts dark brown ; median and others grey-brown edged with white; quills brown with white shafts, a long wedged shaped white patch on the inner webs on the first five and extending to both webs on the others; outer secondaries grey-brown with broad whine edges; posterior flanks lightly barred with black ; axillaries and under wing-coverts white with a few dark brown bars.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill black, paler and plumbeous at the base ; legs and feet dark plumbeous or brownish-black.
Measurements. Wing, 160 to 172 mm., 9 163 to 177 mm.; tail 61 to 67 mm.; tarsus 48 to 54 mm.; culmen 77 to 87 mm.
In Winter the upper parts are dark rather greyish-brown, each feather edged with white, most conspicuously so on the median and greater coverts : the under plumage is white, the sides of the head, chin, throat, neck, breast and flanks speckled with dark brown, the specks becoming bars on the lower breast, flanks and under tail-coverts.
Distribution. The Snipe-billed Godwit breeds from West and Central Siberia through Mongolia to Japan. It has been obtained by Jerdon in Madras, by Blyth and Hume in Calcutta, by Oates in Pegu McMaster at Rangoon, by Macdonad in Dibrugarh and by Wilson in Shillong, in Assam, but doubtless it occurs far more often than it is recognized and shot. Butler recorded it from the Malay Slates.
Nidification. Buturlin informed Dresser that he was certain that the records of the Bar-tailed Godwit breeding in the high North of the Perm and Tobolsk Governments really referred to this bird. The only eggs I have seen were sent to me by Dr. Peter Sushkin and were taken by Dr. Valizhanin in the district of Bassaul, which is situated on the Ob River, Western Siberia, At about 53.70° lat. They were taken near Kamia, a settlement of some size. These two eggs are very like dark eggs of the Godwits but have a very brown ground with very indistinct markings. They measure 47.6 X 32.3 mm. and 48.4 X 33.1 mm.
Habits. Practically nothing on record. Wilson shot one of four birds, which were together and which appeared to him to be Very much like Godwits in flight and voice. In Siberia it is said to keep to the open tundras and prior to migrating to collect in very large flocks. A small flock of eight birds were seen by me in North Lachimpur, Assam, which I am sure were of this species but they would not allow me to approach within shot, flying off with a loud wailing whistle, " whee-ee, whee-ee," whenever I got within sixty yards of them. They flew, like Sandpipers, at a tremendous pace, wheeling with great suddenness every few seconds. They were busy feeding on the edge of a large swamp when first put up.