855. Phylloscopus collybitus sindianus

(855) Phylloscopus collybitus sindianus* Brooks.
THE SIND CHIFFCHAFF.
Phylloscopus collybitus sindianus, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. ii, p. 457.
Within our limits the Sind Chiffchaff breeds in great numbers in Ladak, where Osmaston took a really wonderful series between the 20th May and 4th July at elevations from 10,500 to 14,200 feet. It also breeds in Western Tibet and almost certainly in Northern Kashmir. Outside Indian limits it breeds in South-Eastern Turkestan as far North as Aksu.
The breeding of this bird has been unknown until recent years, when fine series of the bird’s nests and eggs have been taken by Osmaston (B. B.) and Ludlow.
Under the name of Phylloscopus tristis the former gives a very interesting account of its nidification (Ibis, 1925, p. 678), which I quote almost in extenso :—“This species is exceedingly common throughout Ladakh from 9,500 to 14,000 feet, wherever there are trees or large shrubs. They chiefly affect willow and poplar groves, but are also sometimes found in low scrub provided there are some trees or big shrubs in the neighbourhood. They arrive early, and are in full song by the middle of May.
* Whistler considers our Himalayan breeding birds are subsindianus, a conclusion I cannot agree or disagree with in the absence of specimens to compare, though I am very doubtful if subsindianus can be separated from sindianus. For Mr. Whistler’s remarks, see Ibis, 1931, p. 91.
“Breeding commences in the third week in May. Nests are usually placed in low thorny scrub a foot or so from the ground, and are then well concealed. Where low bushes are not available the bird has, of necessity, to find other building-sites. In Leh, for instance, a favourite place is among the cut thorns which are placed on the tops of village walls and on the roofs of houses.
“In the Puga Valley, where this species was extremely common, practically the only shrubby vegetation consists of large bushes of Myricaria elegans with no undergrowth. Here nests were found in these bushes at various heights from the ground, from 5 to 8 feet, and in these cases the nests were, of necessity, conspicuous objects. In one case a nest was found in a willow, out of reach.”
Between the 18th May and the 23rd July Osmaston records finding no less than about fifty nests, empty, with eggs or with young ; twelve nests, of which seven had full clutches of four fresh eggs, were found on the 26th June. He adds : —"Nests were very similar to those of P. affinis, but could generally be distinguished by the presence of a layer of exceedingly fine vegetable down under the lining of feathers which was absent from the nest of P. affinis.
"Four seems the full complement of eggs, only a single nest with five being seen.”
To the above little can or need be added.
The eggs, fortunately, are easily distinguished from those of P. affinis, although the nests are so much alike both in construction and position.
The ground-colour is always white but is not so glossy as it is in the eggs of P. affinis and they are always speckled or spotted with rich deep red or red-brown, these marks forming a zone, often very well defined round the larger end. A few eggs have the specks very small and a few others have a fair number of specks and spots on the smaller as well as on the larger half.
The feeblest marked egg in the combined Ludlow-Osmaston series is better marked than the best-marked affinis known to me.
The eggs differ distinctly from those of P. c. tristis in having the markings red instead of black, purple-black or blackish-red, while in shape they are not nearly such broad ovals.
The shape varies from broad to long oval ; the texture is fine and close, with no gloss, though the surface is very smooth and clean-looking.
Fifty eggs average 15.5 x 12.0 mm. : maxima 17.0 x 12.6 mm. ; minima 14.1 x 11.4 and 15.3 x 11.1 mm.

BookTitle: 
The Nidification Of Birds Of The Indian Empire
Reference: 
Baker, Edward Charles Stuart. The nidification of birds of the Indian Empire. Vol. 2. 1933.
Title in Book: 
855. Phylloscopus collybitus sindianus
Spp Author: 
Brooks.
Book Author: 
Edward Charles Stuart Baker
CatNo: 
855
Year: 
1933
Page No: 
413
Common name: 
Sind Willow Warbler
M_ID: 
22984
M_CN: 
Mountain Chiffchaff
M_SN: 
Phylloscopus sindianus
Volume: 
Vol. 2
id: 
13978

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