(808) Tribura major Brooks.
THE LARGE-BILLED BUSH-WARBLER.
Tribura major, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii. p. 403.
This Bush-Warbler breeds from Turkestan to Kashmir and Ladak at high elevations. It is not uncommon round about Sonamurg at 8,000 feet upwards, and nests and eggs have been taken there by Davidson, Buchanan, Rattray, Ward and others between 8,000 and 9,000 feet. In Tehri-Garhwal and the Suru Valley Osmaston took several nests at 10,000 to 11,000 feet, whilst Whitehead found it breeding in the Khagan Valley at 9,000 feet.
Davidson says that this Warbler haunts the fringes of forest.
“It never seemed to enter these more than a short distance, nor did we find it any distance in the open from the verge of the forest. It was very abundant among the long grass and weeds fringing the forests” (Ibis, 1898, p. 15). Osmaston also describes its habitat as follows (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xxxi, p. 989, 1927) :—
“ This is a fairly common bird in suitable places between 8,000' and 12,000' both in Kashmir and in Ladakh. Irrigated grass-lands, cultivated fields and low thorny scrub (Lonicera spinosa), inter¬spersed with grass, are its favourite haunts.”
In the Khagan Valley Whitehead found them breeding in thorny scrub.
The nest is placed either on the ground or close to it in thick ‘bushes or in dense clumps of weeds and grass. Few nests will be taken as much as 2 feet above the ground. The nests are hard to find, although the birds are persistently noisy, constantly calling their penetrating “tic-tic-tic,” or, as Osmaston calls it, “chipi-chipi-chipi.” The hen bird sits very close ; Davidson found that they sat until almost trodden on and then flew for a few yards, after which they dropped into the cover. Often, however, as both Osmaston and Whitehead experienced, they slip quietly off the nests and run at great speed for a few yards through the grass and weeds before showing themselves.
The nest is a deep cup made entirely of grass, often with no real lining beyond having the softest and finest grass inside. The only nest I have seen measured 3 inches in diameter across the top and was nearly the same in depth ; the walls were thick and the egg-cavity was not more than 2.1/4 inches in width by about 2.1/2 in depth. This was not a tidy-looking nest but was made of dead and withered grass-blades not too well put together.
The breeding season is June and July. The earliest nest with eggs I have recorded is one taken by Whitehead at Bulta-kundi on the 18th June, whilst the latest is one of Osmaston’s found on the 23rd July.
The full clutch of eggs is three or four, generally the latter in Kashmir. The ground-colour is a very pale-pink, sometimes.
almost white, and they are densely speckled all over with tiny specks and freckles of pinkish-red. In a few eggs the specks are more brick-red and in others have a lilac tint. Some eggs are so densely freckled all over that at a little distance they appear uniform. In other eggs the specks, though dense at the larger end, are more sparse elsewhere. Faintly marked rings and caps are not uncommon, but these are seldom at all conspicuous.
The texture is fine but glossless and in shape the eggs vary greatly from short, broad ovals to rather long, narrow ones.
Thirty-five eggs average 18.3 x 14.2 mm. : maxima 19.3 x 14.0 and 18.5 x 15.0 mm. ; minima 17.3 x 13.1 mm.
808. Tribura major
(808) Tribura major Brooks.