(616) Arrenga blighi Holdsworth.
The CEYLON WHISTLING-THRUSH.
Arrenga blighi, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 182.
This little Whistling-Thrush is confined to Ceylon, where it fre¬quents streams in deep forest between elevations of about 3,000 feet and the highest peaks. In all its ways it seems to be very closely related to the Indian Whistling-Thrushes and its nidification is exactly the same.
The first collector to take its nest and eggs was W. Jenkins, in 1908 but, though he sent me a nest, with two sets of eggs taken from it, he failed to obtain the bird. Then in 1911 Aldworth took three nests and proved the authenticity of the eggs taken by Jenkins.
Aldworth writes of his nests and eggs :—“Each of these nests were in the rocky sides of mountain streams running down from the Horton Plains in very much the sort of site as that chosen by the Ring-Ouzel. The nests themselves very greatly resemble those of that bird in structure. Materials principally moss, lined with black roots resembling the stems of maidenhair ferns, only more pliable.”
The nest taken by Jenkins was a deep, compact cup of bright green moss lined with fine black fern-roots, and measured about 8 inches across by fully 5 inches deep, whilst the cup for the eggs was just over 4 x 3.1/4 inches. When wet and fresh it must have been very heavy. It was taken from a crevice in a rock overhanging a hill-torrent in dense forest below Nawara Eliya. On the 22nd April it contained two fresh eggs and on the 17th June, when again visited, had another single incubated egg.
Mr. T. E. Tunnard records the taking of yet another nest (Journ. Bomb. Nat. Hist. Soc. vol. xxviii, p. 1131, 1922) :—“On March 30th of this year I found the nest of Arrenga blighi containing one egg on the point of hatching. I was climbing up a steep rocky ravine on the hunt for this particular nest when I saw one of the birds fly out from under a projecting ledge of rock. I could not reach the place from the same side, so had to cross a slippery face of rock and then recross again higher up stream in order to reach the spot whence I saw the bird fly out. There was the nest, about 9 ft. up, built on a fairly wide ledge under another projecting ledge and quite sheltered from rain or any drips from above. The nest was a large. but neat and compact, structure composed entirely of moss and lined with fine fern-roots. Close to this nest, on other ledges of rock, I found three old nests of previous years in good preservation, owing to their being placed in sheltered spots, protected in each case from rain.”
Mr. G. M. Henry gives a good description of this bird’s habits ('Spolia Zeylonica,’ vol. xiv, pt. 2, p. 343, 1928), and describes the sites of nests found in May in which the young were being fed by their parents. These sites were, like those already described, in ledges and holes in rock-faces over torrents, practically impossible of access and, according to Henry, it was difficult even for the parent birds to find their way in and out.
So far as is known at present Bligh’s Whistling-Thrush breeds from the end of March to June.
The eggs, of which two or one only appear to be laid, are typical Myophonus eggs, differing only in being much smaller, whilst the variations cover the same types as those of that genus.
Ten eggs in my collection, including all those referred to above, average 30.8 x 21.8 mm. : maxima 34.3 x 20.3 and 31.2 x 22.3 mm. ; minima 29.0 x 21.3 and 34.2 x 20.3 mm
616. Arrenga blighi
(616) Arrenga blighi Holdsworth.