(2175) Lymnocryptes minima.
THE JACK SNIPE.
Lymnocryptes minima Brunnich, Orn. Borcal., p. 49, 1764 (Europe). Gallinago gallinula. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 292.
Vernacular names. Chota Chaha (Hin.); Chota Bharca (Nepal); Olan (Tamil); Tibad, Pan Kawa (Mahrati); Daodidap Gajiba (Cachari).
Description. - Adult male. Crown to nape velvety-black, stippled with rufous, a very broad supercilium pale buff; sides of the head dull white marked with rufous-brown, and two broad "brown streaks running from the bill, the upper through the eye, the lower under the ear-covert; hind-neck rufous, stippled with white and dark brown; back, scapulars and rump black, glossed with purple and green, varying in different lights, the outer webs of the scapulars buff, forming two bands and the inner webs more or less barred with rufous ; upper tail-coverts and tail dark brown with rufescent-buff borders; lesser and median wing-coverts deep brown or black, with very pale buff or white bars ; greater coverts dark brown tipped with white, wing-quills dark brown, the first primary pale on the base of the outer web and the secondaries tipped with white; chin white; neck, breast and flanks mixed white, brown and rufous, the brown predominating; abdomen and lower breast white, under tail-coverts with dark shaft-streaks; under wing-coverts white barred with brown on the edge of the wing; axillaries white, sometimes slightly barred with brown but generally pure white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill-tip almost black, paling posteriorly to horny-brown and at the base to olive or greenish-horny, sometimes fleshy at the extreme base and gape ; legs and feet pale olive-green, often tinged with yellowish or grey.
Measurements. Wing 106 to 116 mm.; tail 45 to 50 mm.; tarsus about 23 to 25 mm.; culmen 38 to 44 mm.
Distribution. Northern Europe and Asia. Migrating South in Winter to Northern Africa and the Mediterranean countries, Central Europe from England to Russia, Palestine, Persia etc. to India, Burma and, rarely, to China. It occurs in the Andamans, where it was shot by Osmaston and is not uncommon in Ceylon.
Nidification. The Jack Snipe breeds throughout Northern Asia and Europe. The nest is the usual depression made among grass in swamps, marshy fields and wet tundra; it is generally well lined with scraps of grass, equisetum, or birch leaves and nearly always carefully hidden. The eggs in a full clutch are generally four but occasionally three only and cannot be distinguished from those of the Fantail Snipe, though they average smaller and are, on the whole, of a duller brown colour. They vary, however even more than those of the Common Snipe and in the Newton (Wolley) collection there are red-brown eggs like those of the Broad-billed Sandpiper, others like miniature eggs of the Great Snipe or the Reeve and yet others covered with grey-green spots unlike any known egg of a Wader, Two hundred eggs average 38.4 x 27.5 mm.: maxima 44.5 x 28.5 and 40.0 x 30.0 mm.; minima 35.0 x 27.0 and 38.0 x 25.4 mm.
The breeding-season lasts from late June to the end of August, most eggs being laid in July.
During the courting and breeding months the Jack Snipe make a noise likened by Wolley to a horse cantering in the distance over a hard road ; the sound is made by the bird whilst it is descending from a great height after having flown in curves higher and higher until the necessary height has been reached. It is still doubtful how the sound is produced.
Habits. The Jack Snipe is nowhere so common in India as the Fantail or Pintail Snipes and is much more fond of frequenting small patches of thick cover in corners of paddy-fields and swamps than these birds. It flies at a great pace, but zigzags in a most erratic manner and drops sooner again to the ground than other Snipe. It is an equally delicate, if tiny, morsel for the table.