(858) Phylloscopus griseolus Blyth.
THE OLIVACEOUS WILLOW-WARBLER.
Phylloscopus griseolus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 459.
The breeding range of this Willow-Warbler extends from the Afghan and Baluchistan frontiers to Ladak and Tibet on the East and North into Turkestan and Bokhara to the Altai.
The first person to take the nest and eggs of this bird was probably Col. Ward’s and S. L. Whymper’s collector, in 1906, who obtained two clutches in Ladak. Then Whitehead (Ibis, 1909, p. 123) records that it “nests freely in parts of the Safed Koh Range,” and a clutch of these eggs taken by him was given to me by Mrs. Whitehead after his death. In both these cases the birds were shot off the nest.
Ticehurst says that they certainly breed in Baluchistan, and Delme-Radcliffe also says that they breed about Ziarat near Quetta.
Finally, in 1921 and 1922 Whistler found several nests in Lahul during June and July (Ibis, 1925, p. 168) and again took others at the foot of the Pingdong-La, above 14,000 feet, in 1928.
With a set of eggs sent to me Whistler has given me copious and interesting notes, which may be summarized as follows :—
In 1921-2 he took several nests of this Warbler, between 11,500 and 13,500 feet elevation, in Lahul, between the 3rd June (1921) and the 24th July (1922), whilst in 1928 he took others in Ladak in the same months at even greater heights, one nest at Dobring, at the foot of the Pingdong-La, having been found above 14,000 feet. The birds frequent “bare hill-sides, where moraines of loose stones and boulders support luxuriant herbs or a few bushes in which the nest may be placed. One nest was placed 6 inches from the ground in a small Lonicera-bush, on a barren hill-side, the actual site of the nest being a detritus slope below a precipice.”
Another nest, the first taken by Whistler, was about 2 feet from the ground in a mass of shoots growing from a Juniper-tree. Another nest was built close to the ground in a Juniper-bush, another in a cut-down Willow-stump, and yet another, only 6 inches from the ground, in a Tamarisk-like thicket.
The nest seems to be always very low down, generally only a few inches, and never more than 2 feet from the ground. As a rule it is not very well concealed and both Whistler and Crump (Ward’s collector) speak of the nest as “ill concealed” or “rather conspicuous.”
Whistler describes one nest as “a massive and somewhat squat domed structure of grass and similar materials lined with feathers ; the entrance-hole was large and occupied much of one side.” A second nest, taken on the 3rd July, is said to have been “a large oval structure about the size of a cocoa-nut, with a large entrance near the top of one side ; built of coarse dry shreds of grass, bents, strips of Juniper-bark, fibre etc., the whole cavity thickly lined with feathers.”
The eggs are very like well-marked specimens of the eggs of Phylloscopus affinis but are less glossy. The ground is a pure white, sparsely speckled at the larger end with pale red and with a few other marks scattered about elsewhere. The clutch taken by Whitehead is a little more freely marked than those given to me by Whistler, while that taken by Crump for Ward is still more profusely marked. In shape they are moderately long, rather- pointed ovals, the texture fine and close but without gloss.
The average of nineteen eggs (including eight given me by Whistler) is 16.7 x 12.5 mm. : maxima 17.3 x 13.0 mm. ; minima 16.0 x 12.3 and 16.1 x 12.1 mm.
858. Phylloscopus griseolus
(858) Phylloscopus griseolus Blyth.