(2007) Rallus aquaticus korejewi Sarudny.
THE Turkestan WATER-RAIL.
Rallus aquaticus korejewi, Fauna B. I., Birds, 2nd ed. vol. vi, p. 0.
This Rail breeds in Turkestan, Transcaspia and Persia to Kashmir and. Ladak but, apparently, not Tibet. When I wrote about Rallus indicus in the ‘Game-Birds’ series it was generally accepted, if only provisionally, that this was the race of Rail breeding in Kashmir ; now we know that the form is korejewi, and what was then written about indicus, in so far as it relates to its breeding in India, really refers to the present form.
They breed either in, or close to, the great swamps and lakes with which Kashmir is so well provided, at all elevations above some 4,500 feet, where such lakes exist. Ward, Betham and Osmaston have taken the eggs in Kashmir, mostly in the Hokra Jheel, which is about 5,200 feet elevation. As a rule the birds keep to the big swamps for breeding, placing their nests in the great reed-beds round the fringe of the water or in the weed- and reed-covered islands in the Jakes themselves ; occasionally, however, they build them in ditches and waterways leading to the lakes and sometimes in lush grass and thickly growing weeds in wet meadows a considerable distance from the lakes. The nests are almost invariably very well con¬cealed, being placed well inside herbage of some kind, such as long rank grass, beds of weeds, in among long reeds growing in, or next, the water or in amongst, or under, masses of debris which have collected on the sides of ditches, ponds or lakes. Often the nests are built in reed-heds standing in water, in which case they generallyrest on the broken-down reeds which usually form a matted bed in among the roots of all reed-beds which have not been burnt down. The nest itself is very loosely put together, a pad of dry rushes, aquatic weeds and grass, without any true lining, though the inner portion may be made of somewhat softer and more pliant material than the base and body of the nest. Very often, especially when the nest is built in reed-beds, it is composed solely of the bulrush- leaves or of reeds and bulrushes, with an upper bed, one can hardly call it a lining, of grass. Sometimes the nests are of considerable size, measuring as much as a foot across by 6 inches in depth. The majority, however, are little more than half these dimensions, with an internal cup roughly about 5 inches across by 3 inches or less in depth.
In Kashmir the birds breed in June and July, sometimes a little earlier, sometimes later. I have eggs in my own series dating from 29th May (Betham, Srinagar) to 15th August (Osmaston, Hokra Jhil).
The number of eggs laid is probably six or seven as a rule but Osmaston took one clutch of ten, though the parent bird when trapped on the nest broke three of these. Betham took four eggs showing signs of incubation, so this number must sometimes form a complete clutch.
In shape the eggs are long ovals, rarely rather broader, the small end, though not actually pointed, being distinctly compressed. The texture is fairly fine and close and the surface smooth and sometimes highly glossed.
In colour they range from a pale creamy buff to a fairly warm pale buff. I have seen one clutch with a faint green tinge and one of Osmaston’s, taken in the Hokra Jhil, is a pearly white, also with the faintest possible tinge of grey-green. The markings vary from tiny flecks to small blotches of pale reddish-brown, purple- brown or pale brick-red, sparse everywhere but less so at the larger end. The secondary markings of lavender or pinky grey are similar in size and distribution.
Fifty eggs, all taken in Kashmir, and most by Osmaston (B. B,), average 30.2 x 26.9 mm. : maxima 40.7 x 26.0 and 37.9 x 28.1 mm. ; minima 32.8 x 24.6 and 33.5 x 23.0 mm.
Both birds assist in making the nest and both take part in incubation but, probably, the hen-bird does most of this, as does the European bird. She is hard to catch on the nest, sneaking off very quietly on the approach of anyone near to it, creeping through the grass and weeds until she has got some way from the nest and then rising and fluttering away. The period of incubation is not known either in regard to this bird or the European one.
2007. Rallus aquaticus korejewl
(2007) Rallus aquaticus korejewi Sarudny.