(2149) Tringa erythropus.
THE SPOTTED or DUSKY REDSHANK:.
Scolopax erythropus Pallas, Vroeg's Cat. Coll. Adum., p. 6 (1764) (Holland). Totanus fuscus. Blanf, & Oates, iv, p. 245.
Vernacular names. Batan, Gatni, Surma (Hind.); Terra Teal ulanka (Tam.).
Description. - Breeding plumage. Whole head, neck and lower parts sooty-black, the feathers of the head and neck very narrowly margined with white, those of the chin, lower breast and abdomen with broad white fringes; the mantle black with white edges to each feather and white spots on the sides of each web; many of the scapulars and inner secondaries more bronze-grey with broken black bars and white notches ; lower back and rump white ; upper tail-coverts barred black and white; tail with broader bare of black and more narrow bars of white ; quills blackish, the shaft of the first primary white, the inner webs mottled with white.
Colours of soft parts. As in the Redshank; legs dusky to orange-red.
Measurements. Wing 152 to 168 mm., exceptional to 172 mm.; tail 76 to 91 mm.; tarsus 53 to 61 mm.; culmen, 53 to 59 mm., 56 to 65 mm.
In Non-breeding plumage. Above ashy-brown, the crown and neck immaculate, the upper back with tiny white fringes to each feather, broader on the scapulars and inner secondaries, which are notched with black and white; wing-coverts with broad white fringes; supercilium white ; lores dark brown; sides of face and neck grey, lightly streaked darker, chin and throat white; fore-neck pale ashy-brown; remainder of lower plumage white.
Nestling. Very like that of the Common Redshank but upper down paler, almost buffy-white or greyish-white; underparts greyish-white tinged with buff, the down of the breast with dark bases which show up. Markings more brown, less black than in the preceding species.
Distribution. Breeds throughout Artie Europe and Asia, in Winter migrating South to Africa, India, Burma, China and the Malay States and Islands.
Nidification. The Dusky Redshank breeds from the last week in May to the end of June, laying its eggs in depressions in the ground like other Sandpipers but very often selecting quite dry places on moors with a certain amount of tree-growth. A favourite site is said to be a piece of burnt moorland near trees. The four eggs are typical Sandpipers' but as a series they are very decidedly green. The ground-colour varies from pale olive or sea-green to a pale sage-green with large and numerous blotches of reddish-brown to blackish-brown and secondary ones of lavender and grey. Other eggs have the ground-colour pale stone to rather deep brownish-buff, but these are in the minority. One hundred eggs (Jourdain) average 47.2 X 32.2 mm.: maxima 51.5 x 33.0 and 48.0 x 34.0 mm. ; minima 42.0 x 32.5 and 50.0 x 30.0 mm. It is said that the male bird does the greater part of the incubation.
Habits. In its breeding-haunts this Sandpiper generally keeps much to dry uplands but in India it will be found, like other Sand¬pipers, wading about in marshes or on the banks of rivers and lakes, sometimes singly or in pairs but at other times, especially just after arriving in September, in big flocks. It is a very active bird and wades more than most Sandpipers, feeding on aquatic insects, mollusca, worms, small fishes, tadpoles etc. Its call is syllabified by Witherby as "tchuet, tchuet," a harsher, less musical call than that of the Common Redshank.