(2165) Phalaropus fulicarius jourdaini.
THE GREY PHALAROPE.
Phalaropus fulicarius jourdaini Iredale, Bull. B. O. C., lxii, p. 8 (1922) (Spitzbergen). Phalaropus fulicarius. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 282.
Vernacular names, None recorded.
Description. - Female in breeding plumage. Pace blackish-grey ; crown and nape black ; sides of head white : centre of hind-neck grey, sides deep rufous; mantle velvet-black, the feathers broadly edged with pale rufous or creamy-buff, forming two fairly definite lines down the scapulars ; lower back and rump grey in the centre, white laterally; upper tail-coverts rufous, marked with black and white on a few of the central feathers; tail-feathers grey, almost black at the tip, edged with whitish and the two penultimate pairs marked with rufous; wing-coverts grey edged with white, the tips of the greater forming a white wing-bar; primary coverts and primaries dark brown, the latter with white shafts and a few of the later feathers with white edges to the base of the outer webs ; outer secondaries brown narrowly edged with white, the central almost all white and the innermost long ones like the mantle; chin grey-black, axillaries and under wing-coverts white; remainder of lower plumage deep rufous, generally with a plum tinge from lower breast to vent.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown ; bill dark horny-brown, orange at the base ; legs and feet dull brown or fleshy-brown.
Measurements. Wing 129 to 142 mm.; tail 56 to 65 mm.; tarsus 20 to 23 mm.; culmen about 20 to 24 mm.
Male in breeding plumage. Similar to the female but the head duller, the feathers of the crown with rufous edges; the patch of white on the sides of the head smaller and mixed with rufous and white; lower surface often mixed with white. The male is a little smaller than the female. Wing 126 to 135 mm. (Witherby).
Male and female in non-breeding plumage. Forehead, supercilium, sides of head and neck and whole lower plumage white; hinder crown and nape blackish-brown or brown, running in a line down the hind-neck to the extreme upper back; mantle grey with very fine white edges to the feathers and darker shafts ; tail and wings as in breeding plumage.
Young birds are like the male in Summer but have white foreheads and duller crowns; the chin to breast is rufous-buff fading to white or buffy-white on the remainder of the lower parts.
Nestling in down. Line from the forehead and crown black, centre of nape dull black : forehead buff, lateral coronal lines pale yellowish-buff; upper parts cinnamon-buff mixed with black and whitish; dorsal line and lines on flanks black; a narrow black eye-streak; chin, throat and upper breast yellowish-white, remainder of under surface greyish-white.
Distribution. Breeds in the Arctic regions from Iceland and Spitsbergen to Eastern Siberia, its place being taken in the American Arctic by the typical form. In Winter it migrates to the Mediterranean countries, Northern Africa and has once occurred in India, Blyth having obtained a single specimen in the Calcutta bazaar.
Nidification. The Grey Phalarope breeds from the middle of June to the middle of July, making a deep depression in the moss or soil well lined with a thick pad of grass and nearly always sheltered by a thick tussock of grass, a tuft of salix or even by an outcrop of rock. The site selected is close to water, a favourite one being a small island in lakes, fiords or open water in swamps. The eggs normally number four, occasionally only three and are very like Stint's eggs. The ground-colour varies from pale stone to a warm rather brown buff blotched, spotted or speckled with blackish-brown or chocolate-brown with sparse underlying spots of grey and pale plum-colour. The average of 155 eggs (Jourdain) is 30.4 x 21.8 mm. : maxima 33.8 X 21.2 and 30.5 x 24.5 mm. ; minima 27.5 X 20.6 and 28.5 x 20.5 mm.
Habits. The Phalaropes differ from all other small Waders in their love of swimming, often being seen floating lightly on the top of the water, or swimming with little jerks and bobs like the Coots. They feed principally on insects, tiny Crustacea and mollusca and also to some extent on algae and shoots and seeds of other vegetation. They are very tame and confiding, tripping daintily about within a few feet of the observer,* picking insects here and there off the grass and making little dashes after others on the move. Their alarm-note is syllabified by Miss Haviland as " drrrt drrrt" but, when in flocks, they keep up a pleasant little twittering chatter.