(246) Pellorneum" palustre.
THE MARSH SPOTTED BABBLER.
Pellorneum palustre Jerdon, Ibis, 1872, p. 300 (Cherrapunji, Assam):
Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 143,
Vernacular names. Dao-priti-pit kashiba (Cachari).
Description. Upper plumage olive-brown, the forehead and a line over the lores bright rufous; tail and exposed parts of wing rufous ; lores white ; cheeks white barred with brown ; ear-coverts rufous mottled with brown and with pale shafts; chin, throat and centre of breast and abdomen white; the remainder of the lower plumage rich ochraceous buff; the whole breast and sides of the body with heavy, dark brown streaks.
Colours of soft parts. " Iris bright brown; bill horny-brown; base of lower mandible tinged blue; tarsus pale horny-blue" (H. Stevens).
Measurements. Total length about 160 mm.; wing 62 to 68 mm.; tail about 64 to 69 mm.; tarsus about 26 mm.; culmen about 15 mm.
Distribution. Assam, South of the Brahmaputra and N. Lakhimpur, North of that river.
Nidification, I found the bird breeding in the North of N. Cachar in the wide stretches of upland grass. In the hollows water stood for the greater part of the year, but the nests were built on the higher lands, tucked in amongst the roots of grass or under the protection of some small shrub or weed. Later I found them breeding in Cachar and Sylhet Plains and again in Lakhimpur where the nests were all built in reeds and grass on the banks of rivers and edges of swamps. April to June appear to be the breeding months, and the nest and eggs are similar to those of P. r. mandellii, but the latter measure only about 20.6 x 15.7 mm.
Habits. The Marsh Spotted Babbler is found principally in the plains, but wanders up to at least 2,500 feet. Jerdon obtained it both in long grass and reeds and in " bushes and low tree-jungle" but I have never seen it in cover other than grass and reeds, though this may vary from short sun-grass in N". Cachar, not 2 feet high, to the dense elephant-grass of the plains, over 12 feet-high. The note is a sharp double chirp, syllabefized by Stevens as " chi-chew," constantly repeated. They are rather noisy but very skulking little birds, and one seldom sees them under ordinary circumstances, but when beating for game they may often be seen flitting in a rather lop-sided manner from one patch of grass to another.