(514) AEnanthe deserti oreophila.
The Tibetan Desert-Chat.
AEnanthe deserti or cophila Oberholser, Proc. U.S. Nat. Mus., xxii, p. '2-21 (1901) (S.W. Tibet). Saxicola montana. Blanf, & Oates, ii, p. 78.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Both male and female differ from Gould's Desert-Chat in having more white on the inner webs of the secondaries and primaries. The white patch on the wing-coverts is larger.
Colours of soft parts as in the last race.
Measurements. This bird averages a trifle larger than the last: wing 96 to 106 mm.; tail 67 to 71 mm.; culmen 15.5 to 17 mm.
Distribution. Breeding in Kashmir, Ladakh and Tibet, In winter it occurs in Sikkim, and may breed there. It occurs in Assam, North of the Brahmaputra, where Coltart and I obtained it at Margherita, and in North Cachar South of the river.
Nidification. The Tibetan Desert-Chat breeds from Ladakh throughout Tibet at heights between 12,000 and 14,000 feet during June and the last week of May. Usually it places its nest in amongst the stones of the boundary walls or in stone cairns and the broken walls of deserted buildings but, occasionally at all events, it also places it in the burrows of the Mouse-Hare. The nests seem to be made of almost any material, but the lining is always of fur, hair or wool mixed with a few feathers. The eggs are five in number and are exactly like those of the last race. Eleven eggs in my collection average 22.2 x 15.9 mm. In Kashmir it has been found breeding at 16,000 ft.
Habits. In summer the Tibetan Desert-Chat occurs from 10,000 to 17,000 feet and in winter wanders lower down to some 3,000 or 4,000 feet in Sikkim, Bhutan and the hills of Northern Assam, rarely also straggling into the higher hills South of the Brahmaputra.
In Tibet it inhabits country where there is a considerable amount of cultivation as well as stony deserts. It is also found in considerable numbers on the Gyantse plateau between 12,000 and 14,000 feet, where there is a good deal of coarse short grass and an endless growth of a stubbly thorny bush, which the goats and sheep graze down to about a foot or eighteen inches high. Its actions, night, food and voice are all typical of the genus. It has the same display during the breeding-season as that of AE, isabellina already described.
Saxicola xanthoprymna Hemp. & Ehrenb., Symb. Phys. Av., fol. dd (1833).