(2137) Limosa limosa limosa.
THE BLACK-TAILED GODWIT.
Scolopax limosa Linn., Syst Nat., 10th ed., i, p. 147 (1758) (Sweden). Limosa belgica. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 254 (part.).
Vernacular names. Gudera, Gairiya, Jangral, Khag (Hind.) ; Malgujha (Nepal); Jaurali (Beng.) ; Tondu ulanka (Tel.).
Description. - Breeding plumage. A pale rufous supercilium from the bill to the ear-coverts ; forehead, crown and nape dark rufous streaked with black; lores rufous speckled with black ; chin and throat whitish or pale rufous ; neck all round rich rufous; back, scapulars and innermost secondaries blackish, broadly barred with pale rufous and edged with white at the tips of the feathers ; lower back brownish-black ; upper tail-coverts white with black tips; tail blackish, white at the base, the white narrow on the central tail-feathers, broad on the outer, all the feathers tipped whitish; innermost wing-coverts blackish next the scapulars; median and greater coverts grey-brown, bordered with white, forming a broad wing-bar on the greater coverts ; primary coverts brownish-black, tipped with white; primaries dark brown, paler on the inner webs, with a wedge-shaped indistinct white mark on the first primary, becoming whiter on the succeeding primaries and at the same time restricted in extent and forming a white base to the 4th, 5th and 6th primaries; outermost secondaries blackish with white bases and white tips; intermediate secondaries brown with narrow pale edges ; breast rufous, barred with black; abdomen and posterior flanks rufous, heavily barred with black and with white bases and narrow white fringes ; under tail-coverts white barred with black; axillaries and under wing-coverts white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris hazel or dark brown; bill dull orange-red or dusky-orange, more red at the base and dusky at the tip; legs and feet greyish-green.
Measurements. Wing, 210 to 226 mm., 215 to 240 mm.; tail 74 to 89 mm.; tarsus 75 to 82 mm.; culmen, 88 to 107 mm., 104 to 126 mm. (Witherby).
In Winter the upper parts are dark brown or blackish, each feather edged with fulvous; the neck more rufescent, with the dark centres obsolete; chin, throat and face pale fulvous,'deepening in colour on the fore-neck and tinged with rufous-grey, thence paling to white on the abdomen and under tail-coverts.
Females are like the male but do not always assume so fully rufous a summer plumage-Nestling down of upper parts buffy or greyish-white, grizzled more or less with brownish ; crown and a line from the upper mandible light brown; a buff supercilium meeting behind the crown; a broken brown dorsal line to the uropygium ; underpays greyish-white.
Distribution. Northern Europe from Iceland, Holland and Finland, Hungary and Russia to Western Asia probably as far East as Lake Baikal. In Winter South to Africa and North-West India. Common in India in the North-West and thence becoming scarcer towards the South but has occurred in Ceylon. To the East it has been obtained in the United Provinces and Western Bengal.
Nidification. In Holland the Black-tailed Godwit breeds in April and early May, both on sand-hills and the open swampy country. Elsewhere it breeds on tundras near the sea-coast and on estuaries on island coasts and marshes, making a well put together pad of weeds, rushes and grass in some natural hollow in dense short grass or other herbage. In the North many eggs are not laid until early June. The number is normally four, whilst in colour they range from pale dull olive-yellow to olive-brown with faded-looking blotches of dull brown or reddish-brown, boldly marked eggs being exceptional. In shape they are long slightly pyriform ovals. One hundred eggs (Jourdain) average 54.7 X 37.3 mm.: maxima 59.8 x 37.8 and 55.3 x 40.7 ram.; minima 48.5 x 37.7 and 55.0 x 34.0 mm.
Habits. In India the Godwit arrives about the first week in October and leaves again in March and April. It is generally found in small flocks feeding on the edge of tanks, lakes and marshes or on the coast. Occasionally pairs or single birds may be seen associating with other Waders but more often it is to be seen in flocks of about a dozen to fifty or even more. It feeds upon all sorts of insects, small moliusca, worms etc. but also freely on most kinds of grain and seeds and is a very good bird for the table. It "flies well, is not too tame and often gives very sporting shots. Its call is syllabified by Witherby as " gr-wee-too," but in the cold weather it is a silent bird, though it generally calls when rising into the air or settling on the ground.
* The real first primary is obsolete and so minute that it is not noticeable unless searched for carefully.