(1168) Motacilla alba personata.
The Masked Wagtail.
Motacilla personata, Gould, B. of Asia, vi, pi. 63 (1861) (India) ; Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 290.
Vernacular names. Kol-sundak (Turki); Dhobin, Dhobini (Hind.).
Description. Similar to the Indian White Wagtail but in adults the ear-coverts, sides of the head and neck are black ; in younger birds and in Winter these parts are somewhat mottled with white but are never pure white as in M. a. dukhunensis. In quite young birds they are grey or grey-brown. The white on the wing-courts and inner secondaries is also more extensive in the present race and very often there is less black on the outermost tail-feathers.
Colours of soft parts as in the Indian White Wagtail.
Measurements. Wing 87 to 99 mm.; tail 91 to 103 mm.; tarsus 23 to 25 mm.; culmen 12 to 13 mm.
Distribution, Breeds from Turkestan to South-West of Lake Baikal; South to Afghanistan, Grilgit, Kashmir, Ladakh and the extreme North-West Frontier of India.
Nidification. In Central West Asia the Masked Wagtail breeds principally in April and May but on our own Frontier Whitehead took fresh eggs on the 15th June at Bulta-khundi in the Khagan Valley. In this and the Kurram Valley it breeds freely from 2,550 feet up to 10,000 feet and Fulton obtained it up to 12,000 feet. Ward records it as breeding commonly in Kashmir between 6,000 and 8,000 feet but I have never seen any eggs from that State. The eggs, four to six in number, are like those of the other races. Thirty eggs average 20.2 x 15.0 mm.: maxima 21.2 x 15.5 and 20.2 x 16.1; minima 19.3 x 14.1 mm.
Habits. During the breeding-season the Masked Wagtail seems to be more exclusively a bird of forest-streams and watercourses than most of its allies but, otherwise, it behaves, feeds,, calls and sings much as they do, whilst in the non-breeding season it becomes almost as much a town and village haunter as the tamest of them. It arrives in the foot-hills and plains of the Frontier Provinces in the end of August and early September and leaves again in early May. During the intervening months it spreads over the whole of India, East to Assam, West to Sind and South to Travancore.