(2150) Glottis nebularia.
Scolopax nebularia Gunnerus, Beskr. Finmark, Lapp., p. 251, note (1767) (Norway). Totanus glottis. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 266.
Vernacular names. Tantanna,Timtimma(Hindi); Gotra (Beng.); Peria kotan (Tam.); Maha oliya (Cing.).
Description. - Breeding plumage. Head, neck and mantle blackish, the feathers of crown and neck edged longitudinally with white; back and scapulars with white edges forming lunar bars, the longer scapulars barred black and white on their edges, the inner secondaries notched with white; lower back and rump white; tail-coverts and tail white barred with light brown ; central tail-feathers nearly all ashy-grey ; wing-coverts brown, edged with whitish ; primaries blackish, the outermost with a white shaft and the inner webs mottled with white and brownish on the basal two-thirds; the inner primaries and outer secondaries dark brown edged with whitish; sides of head, chin, throat, breast and flanks white, boldly streaked with blackish; centre of abdomen and vent unspotted white; under tail-coverts white with black streaks ; under wing-coverts and axillaries white with light brown marks.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill dark horny-brown or greenish-brown, blacker at the tip ; legs yellowish-green or olive-green.
Measurements. Wing 179 to 200 mm.; tail 88 to 100 mm.; tarsus about 59 to 65 mm.; culmen 51 (one) to 57 (one) mm.
In Winter the forehead is white ; the whole plumage much more grey, the blackish centres being replaced by paler ashy-brown with dark shafts ; the under plumage is pure white from chin to under tail-coverts.
Young birds are much browner, less grey in general tint, more spotted with whitish on both webs of the mantle-feathers and have the underparts more streaked with brown.
Nestling is marked like that of the Redshank but the upper parts pale buffy-grey-white, more buff on the back and rump; the underparts are white, the fore-neck and sides of the head and neck suffused with grey.
Distribution. Northern Europe and Asia, migrating South in Winter to Africa, India, Burma, Malaya, China and Australia. I can find no difference whatsoever in size or colour between the Eastern and Western forms and consider glottoides* merely a synonym of nebularia.
Nidification. The Greenshank breeds from early May in the South of its habitat to mid-June in the most Northern parts. The nest is merely a depression in the ground, lined with a little grass or a few leaves and the site selected is nearly always on open moors near some such landmark as an exceptionally high tuft of grass or heather, a stone or piece of fallen timber. The close vicinity of water is not a necessity, though the nest may often be found by little lochs and streams. The four eggs are of the usual long peg-top shape and in ground-colour vary from olive-stone or pale buff to fairly warm buff, whilst the markings consist of blotches and spots of reddish-brown to chocolate-brown with secondary markings of grey or lavender. Jourdain gives the average of one hundred British eggs as 51.4 x 34.8 mm.: maxima 59.8 x 37.7 mm.; minima 45.8 x 35.4 and 50.4 x 32.4 mm. The male bird does a considerable part if not all of the duty of incubation.
Habits. This bird frequents wide open moorlands, the shores of lakes and marshes and, in Winter, the sea-shores, more especially such as are muddy, like inland estuaries and backwaters. In India it is found as often on the larger rivers and inland swamps and lakes as on the coast. It feeds on all kinds of insects, small mollusca, worms, grubs, small frogs, tadpoles etc. and, it is said, small fish. For the table it is very little inferior to the Snipe and by the end of the Cold Season is often a little lump of fat. Its call is a harsh, loud replica of that of the Redshank and in flight also it is very similar to that bird.