(2277) Marmaronetta angustirostris.
The Marbled Teal.
Anas angustirostris Menetries, Cad. Reis. Caucas., p. 58 (1832) (Lenkoran, Transcaspia). Marmaronetta angustirostris. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 454.
Vernacular names, Choi (Sind).
Description. Whole upper parts a silvery-grey, each feather having the central portion darker and brownish and the tip and terminal edge paler; the head and nape are more buff in tint, each feather centred brown; giving a barred appearance; the parts surrounding the eye brown, forming a distinct dark brown eye-patch ; chin, throat and underpart of the neck paler, almost white, the dark centres reduced to an obsolete stippling; tail a silvery brown-grey edged paler; wings silver-grey, the outer secondaries a purer paler grey : inner webs of the primaries darker and browner; the wing-coverts and quills are all brown-shafted, the brown contrasting distinctly with the grey; lower parts white, more or less tinged with buff or grey; the breast and flanks distinctly barred with dark grey-brown ; lower tail-coverts indistinctly barred with the same.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill bluish-grey, black or dusky on the culmen and tip, a line of leaden-blue next the forehead and along the edge of the upper mandible; a spot of the same colour above the nail; legs and feet dusky-olive or horny-brown, the claws and webs blackish; sometimes the legs are tinged greenish.
Measurements. Wing, 206 to 215 mm.. 198 to 210 mm.; tail 76 to 105 mm.; tarsus 26 to 28 mm.; culmen about 40 to 45 mm.
Weight, 1 lb. 3 oz. to 1 lb. 5 oz., 1 lb. to 1 lb. 3 oz. (Hume). Young birds are duller and greyer with the underparts almost uniform ; the creamy spots on the upper plumage are wanting,
Distribution. The countries North and South of the Mediterranean Sea; the Canaries; East it occurs throughout South Russia, Asia Minor, Transcaspia, Palestine, Mesopotamia, South-West Persia, Mekran and Sind. In India it has occurred frequently in Gujarat, the North-West Provinces and the Punjab. Occasionally it wanders into the United Provinces and Central Provinces and it has been shot by Burton in Baroda, several times round about Calcutta and by Eden in Sibsagar, Assam.
Nidification. The Marbled Teal breeds throughout its normal range during May and June, during the former month in the Mediterranean countries and during the latter month in Baluchistan, Mekran, Sind and Persia. Their breeding in the various lakes in Sind and Mekran depends on the rainfall and it is possible that some years when this is exceptionally scanty they move to places where there is more water. Again, some of the places in which they do breed regularly are so far off the beaten track that they are but seldom visited. The nest is made of rushes and weeds and the downy lining is very scanty and sometimes wanting altogether. It is placed in weed-covered swampy land or in small islands in lakes and marshes and is usually well concealed. The eggs vary from nine to thirteen, though in Persia five and six eggs were found to be sometimes incubated. In appearance they are just like Teals' eggs but larger. Eighty-nine eggs average 46.5 x 34.2 mm.: maxima 50.6 X 33.4 and 47.7 x 36.0 mm.; minima 42.4 x 32.9 and 46.6 x 31.5 mm.
Habits. The Marbled Teal is a resident bird almost wherever found but in Winter it seems to wander far and individuals are found at great distances from their usual haunts. In Sind it is a very common bird throughout the year but their numbers are augmented in Winter by Northern birds and Ticehurst remarks that he noticed " odd birds on passage" in August. This Teal avoids open water, keeping to reed-beds and to stretches of water overgrown with weeds and plants where it can easily find concealment. In many ways it is said to be very Coot-like, generally first seeking safety among cover and only rising when a boat is pushed within long-shot distance of it. These birds collect in flocks of some numbers and feed on many kinds of shoots, rootlets, grain etc as well as on insects, larvae, worms, small shell-fish etc. They fly well, but are not so fast as Teal or the more powerful ducks. They swim and walk well and dive with ease, resorting to diving when wounded, often clinging on to water-weeds with only the tips of their bills out of water. They are said to have two distinct notes, one a hoarse quack or croak, the other a whistle.