625. Saxicola isabellina.
The Isabelline Chat.
Saxicola isabellina, Cretzschm. Rupp. Atlas, p. 52 (1826) ; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xli, pt. ii, p. 230 ; Blanf, & Dresser, P. Z. S. 1874, p. 229; Scully, S. F. iv, p. 142 ; Hume, Cat. no. 491; Seebohm, Cat. B. M. v, p. 399; Scully, Ibis, 1881, p. 444 ; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 203. Saxicola oenanthe (Linn.), apud Jerd. B. I. ii, p. 132.
Coloration. Male. After the autumn moult the upper plumage is sandy brown, the longer feathers of the rump and the upper tail-coverts white; wings dark brown, every feather with a fulvous margin and tip, the margins broader on the secondaries and greater coverts; middle pair of tail-feathers with basal third white, remaining two-thirds black; the other tail-feathers with rather more than the basal half white, and remainder black, and all of them tipped narrowly with white; a white supercilium from the nostrils to the end of the ear-coverts; lores black; ear-coverts fulvous-brown ; chin whitish; whole lower plumage buff; under wing-coverts and axillaries fulvous. In summer the margins of the wing-feathers are much reduced in breadth.
Female. Hardly differs from the male, but has the lores generally paler.
Legs and feet black ; bill black; iris brown (Hume).
Length about 7; tail 2.3 to 2.6 ; wing 3.6 to 4 ; tarsus 1.15 to 1.25; bill from gape .8 to .9.
Distribution. A winter visitor to the plains of India from the Punjab south to Ahmednagar and east to Chunar and Benares, which are the extreme limits of this species as indicated by the specimens I have examined. This Chat breeds and passes the summer in Turkestan, Afghanistan, Baluchistan, and Persia, and passes through Gilgit in the spring and autumn. It has a very wide range, extending to South-east Europe and North-east Africa on the one side, and to the east of Asia on the other.
Habits, &c. Breeds in Afghanistan, according to Barnes, in March, and in Turkestan, according to Scully, in April and May, but neither the nest nor eggs have yet been taken in these countries.