(2133) Numenius arquata arquata.
Scolopax arquatus Linn., Syst. Nat., 10th ed., i, p. 145 (1758) (Sweden). Numenius arquata. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 252 (part.).
Vernacular names. Goar, Goungh, Barra Gulinda (Hind.).
Description. Upper plumage blackish-brown, the feathers of the head and neck with broad fulvous edges, paler and almost white on the sides of the head; mantle with the pale edges browner and assuming the shape of interrupted bars on the scapulars and inner secondaries; wing-coverts with whitish edges which also become similar bars on the great coverts; a patch of feathers above and below the eye white; lower back and rump white, the centres of the feathers with broad streaks and sometimes bars of blackish ; these vary greatly ; in many the sides of the rump are pure white, the black showing only as a few black streaks, at the other extreme there are birds with the whole of these parts closely barred and streaked with blackish; upper tail-coverts and tail barred blackish and pale brown, the former more black and white ; primaries black with white shafts and the inner webs barred with white, these bars extending on the inner primaries to the outer webs also; chin white; throat white with tiny black striae, gradually enlarging towards the fore-neck ; neck and breast fulvous with broad black central streaks ; flanks white with central streaks and cross-bars of brown; abdomen, vent and under tail-coverts white with narrow dark brown centres, always less on the middle of the abdomen and vent and sometimes absent; under tail-coverts with broader dark centres; axillaries white with narrow black bars.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill dark brown, the basal half fleshy-brown colour; legs and feet pale grey, fleshy-grey or bluish-grey.
Measurements. Wing, 280 to 303 mm., 295 to 321 mm.; tail 106 to 121 mm.; tarsus 66 to 80 mm. culmen, 100 to 124 mm., 130 to 152 mm. (Witherby).
Young birds have the feathers of the upper parts edged with buff and the upper tail-coverts and rump suffused with buff, whilst the streaks on the breast and abdomen are narrower.
Nestling. Above creamy-buff, the sides of neck and fore-neck darker rufous-buff and the under surface buffy-white; a broad central streak of brown from forehead to nape: posterior crown freckled black and buff; an eye-streak dark brown ; a dark brown patch on the hind-neck; two lateral bands of dark brown down the back; two patches of brown on the wings and two short blackish lines below the dorsal lines.
Distribution. Northern and Central Europe, South to Dobrugea etc. In Winter South to Africa, Madagascar and North-West India as far East as Delhi and as far South as Ceylon.
Nidification. The Curlew breeds from the middle of May in England and about a month later in the more Northern countries.
The birds either scratch for themselves a hollow or make use of a natural one in marshland, on boggy crests of hills or in sand-hills. This is almost invariably well lined with rushes, grass and weeds, and well concealed by surrounding vegetation. Four eggs are laid which vary in ground-colour from pale olive, olive-grey or olive-buff to warm olive-green or buff. The markings range from small spots and blotches freely scattered over the whole surface to large, handsome markings, most numerous at the larger end, sparse elsewhere. One hundred eggs average 67.2 x 47.4 mm.: maxima 75.5 X 55.0 mm.; minima 56.2 x 44.0 and 61.0 x 43.0 mm.
Habits. The Curlew is one of the wildest and most shy of all our marsh and moorland inhabitants. In India it is fairly common in the North-West and straggles down South to Ceylon but records from Eastern India are nearly all referable to the next race. Its haunting cry of " cur-lew, cur-lew" may be often heard far overhead at night in October as the birds migrate South but in addition to the well-known call it has a musical note, sounding rather like " what-what" and a loud screaming note when frightened or disturbed. This bird occurs with us in small flocks, feeding on the shores of lakes and in marshes or along the shores of our Western coasts. It eats almost any small living thing - insects, reptiles, coleoptera, slugs, worms and, at times, berries, seeds and seaweed.