(631) Muscicapa striata neumanni Poche.
THE EASTERN SPOTTED FLYCATCHER.
Muscicapa striata neumanni, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 202.
It is rather hard to define the breeding area of this race of our common Spotted Flycatcher. The European bird extends into Northern Persia, yet Petherick’s birds, obtained breeding in Central and South Persia, all seemed to me to be the Eastern form, whilst those obtained breeding in Palestine were nearer also to it than to the Western bird. Yet all through Asia Minor, to the Caucasus, Mesopotamia and Western Persia, the birds are of the latter race. In Turkestan and all Eastern Siberia, South to Afghanistan and Baluchistan, the breeding form is neumanni.
Within our limits it breeds commonly near Quetta. Ticehurst (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xxxi, p. 704, 1926) says :— “The Spotted Flycatcher is an overseas visitor to N. Baluchistan, breeding in the forest area from 7,500 upwards ; at lower elevations it is a passage migrant. It breeds commonly round Ziarat and full clutches (4 to 5 eggs) may be found at the end of May.
I noticed a few still in their breeding haunts to the end of September but most had gone.”
Williams was fortunate enough to take a nest and eggs. He writes (ibid. vol. xxxiii, p. 602, 1929) :—“I have found it breeding in the Quetta Valley but it must be considered a rare bird. I have seen a few birds in April and May around Quetta where there are a few large trees and water.
“On the 18th May, 1920, a nest was found, built in a crevice, in a Tangi, from which three eggs were obtained. The Tangi was at an elevation of some 6,000 ft. and the nest was built of grass-roots and dried moss, lined with fine grass and moss-roots.”
Scully also informed Hume that this Flycatcher breeds in the Pine forests in Gilgit, at elevations over 8,000 feet.
In Afghanistan Wardlaw-Ramsay took two nests, one situated on the lowest fork of an edible Pine about six feet from the ground and the other in a crevice in a Juniper-stump.
In South-East Persia, where this race seems to be extremely common, the sites of their nests are as varied as those of the Western bird. Many are built in large trees, either in bifurcations of big branches, against the trunk itself, or in creepers growing over it. Some are placed in holes and crevices in old buildings, or on pro¬tected projections of the walls ; others, though not so often, are placed on rock-faces or just inside fissures.
The breeding season lasts throughout May and June and I have clutches taken from the 3rd May to the 26th June. They appear to be single brooded.
The eggs are indistinguishable from those of the Common Spotted Flycatcher and have the same great range of variation. The most common types are : (1) A pale greenish ground, blotched, to a varying extent, with pale to rather dark reddish-brown, and with underlying but inconspicuous blotches of lavender. (2) A pale buff or stone ground, similarly marked, but with more red than brown blotches. In both types occasional clutches are so heavily marked that but little of the ground shows, but in most they are numerous yet show up the ground-colour well. Another type, though not a common one, has the ground-colour a pale olive-grey, while others have a comparatively bright green ground. Truly erythristic eggs occur but are rare ; in these the ground is a bright cream or light buff, densely marked with light red or brick-red. I have also one clutch in which the eggs are like large eggs of the Willow- Warbler.
One hundred eggs average 18.35 x 14.2 mm. : maxima 21.0 x 14.2 and 20.0 x 15.0 mm. ; minima 16.0 x 15.0 and 17.9 x 12.9 mm.
In shape they are generally rather broad ovals, decidedly smaller at one end. The texture is fine and close, though glossless or almost so.
Both sexes assist in building the nest and both take part in incubation. They are tame, familiar little birds and do not seem to shun observation, even when nesting.
631. Muscicapa striata neumanni
(631) Muscicapa striata neumanni Poche.