(2119) Pluvialis apricarius apricarius.
THE GOLDEN PLOVER.
Charadrius apricarius Linn., Syst. Nat., 10th ed., i, p. 150 (1758) (Oeland, Sweden). Charadrius pluvialis. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 235.
Vernacular names. Chota Battan (Hind.).
Description - Breeding plumage. Forehead and lores yellowish-white, spotted with brown; short supercilia yellowish; whole upper plumage blackish-brown, each feather with a golden tip and spots along the edges, giving the whole a spangled-gold appearance; primaries blackish, the shafts brown with a white patch near the tip, this white extending on to the webs in the innermost ; in freshly-moulted birds there is a fine edging of white to the tips ; sides of the head mottled white, brown and gold ; chin white ; throat, fore-neck and vent black, surrounded by a narrow broken white band; flanks like the back; axillaries and under tail-coverts white, the latter spangled with gold and brown except in the centre.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown ; bill, legs and feet black.
Measurements. Wing 181 to 194 mm.; tail 60 to 75 mm.; tarsus 37 to 42 mm.; culmen 21 to 26 mm.
In Winter the upper parts are sometimes rather duller; the chin and throat are white, faintly streaked darker, the breast is mottled gold and brown, the gold disappearing on the lower breast, which with the flanks are white with brown bars ; centre of abdomen, vent, and under tail-coverts white, the latter tipped and barred on the lateral feathers with gold and brown.
In many specimens the gold on the breast is replaced by brown-grey.
Young birds are like the adult in non-breeding dress but have the underparts darker, the breast more marked with brown and the posterior flanks and abdomen barred with brown and marked faintly with pale gold.
Nestling in down. Mottled gold and black above, except on the hind-neck, which is white or nearly so; below dull white.
Distribution. Europe, Northern Africa, Western Asia to Lake Baikal, migrating South to Tropical Africa and India East to Assam.
Nidification. The Golden Plover breeds from the 20th of April to mid-May in the Southern parts of its habitat and as late as the middle of June in the extreme North. The nests are made on moorlands in thin heather or deep peat-moss, sometimes on almost bare ground. The hollow selected may be either natural or one made by the birds and is generally well lined with matted grass, leaves, scraps of heather, twigs etc The nest is one of the hardest to find of all the Waders and Plovers, as the cock keeps a very careful look out for intruders and, perched on some little eminence, well away from the nest, gives warning of their arrival to his wife, who sneaks quietly away. The eggs, four in number, are generally very handsome. The ground-colour varies from pale yellowish-stone to deep rich buff, while the markings of dark chocolate-brown and black are bold and large, standing up well against the ground-colour. Rey gives the average of twenty-six eggs as 51.4 x 34.1 mm.
Habits. The Golden Plover is a rare visitor to India during the Winter. Specimens have been shot at Quad or in Baluchistan, Warachi, Lehwan and near Lucknow. Another specimen was obtained by Captain Hanna and, finally, I shot two specimens in Dibrugarh in Assam. In Winter it associates in large flocks in. its own country but in India single birds only are met with, though associating with flocks of other migratory Waders. Those obtained by me in Assam were both shot out of large flocks of the Eastern Grolden Plover, in one case three of the latter falling to the same shot and in the second case, to a right and left, five birds fell. Both birds were in full breeding plumage, being shot in late March as they were leaving for the North. They are wonderful fliers, wheeling and twisting with the greatest rapidity and are so wary that they are very difficult to approach within shot. Their call is a shrill but very pleasant " Tuill-tuill," constantly repeated when on the wing, whilst the warning-call is a rather sad " tu-wee, tu-wee." Their food consists of all kinds of insects, beetles, berries and shoots of many plants and, when feeding by the sea, of small mollusca, crustaceans and sea-worms.