(2102) Squatarola squatarola squatarola.
THE WESTERN GREY PLOVER.
Tringa squatarola Linn., Syst. Nat., 10th ed., i, p. 149 (1758) (Sweden). Squatarola helvetica. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 236 (part.).
Vernacular names. Barra batan (Hind.).
Description. - Breeding plumage. Upper plumage a pearly-grey, banded everywhere with black, the long scapulars being paler brown with, blackish bars and white indentations; primaries blackish-brown with long wedge-shaped marks on the inner webs; outer secondaries with white bases; extreme forehead, round the eyes, sides of the head and lower plumage to vent black; under wing-coverts, thighs, vent and under tail-coverts white ; axillaries black and white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown; bill black; legs, and feet dusky grey.
Measurements. Wing 189 to 201 mm.; tail 73 to 83 mm.; tarsus 45 to 51 mm.; culmen 28.0 to 30.5 mm. (Hartert).
In non-breeding plumage the forehead and lores are white, speckled with black; rump and upper tail-coverts white with narrow bars of brown; remaining upper plumage dark brown, each feather edged paler; scapulars and wing-coverts with broader white tips and semi-bars; sides of head and neck white streaked with brown ; breast and flanks white, lightly barred with pale brown ; remainder of lower parts white.
Distribution. Greenland, Eastern North America, Arctic Europe to East Siberia, migrating South in Winter to the coasts of Southern Europe, Africa to the extreme South, Madagascar, Seychelles and to North-West India. Records from Eastern India, Burma and Ceylon all appear to refer to the next race.
Nidification. The Grey Plover breeds in the tundras of the Arctic region, laying four eggs in a depression in the moss, lined with scraps of moss and lichen, during late June and early July. Typically the eggs are like rather pale, long, large eggs of the Golden Plover ; the ground-colour varies from pale stone or olive-grey to buff, profusely marked with reddish-black and black blotches, usually more numerous at the larger end. The secondary marks of grey are less numerous. Jourdain gives the average of forty eggs as 51.6 x 35.9 mm.: maximum 55.2 x 35.6 and 50.7 X 38.0 mm.; minima 45.7 X 39.7 and 51.9 x 34.0 mm.
Habits. This Plover visits India in flocks of some size from October to March but is more common in the coastal districts than inland. It is a shy, wild bird and very difficult to approach within shot, whilst its shrill pipe gives the alarm to every other bird as well. The speed at which it flies, its wariness and its excellence on the table give it high rank as a sporting bird. It feeds on worms, Crustacea, molluscs, insects, grasshoppers and, it is said, on seeds also.