(2144) Tringa stagnatilis.
Totanus stagnatilis Bechstein, Orn. Tasclu, 2, p. 292 (1803) (Germany) ; Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 263.
Vernacular names. Chota Gotra (Beng.).
Description. - Breeding plumage. Lores whitish ; upper part of the head, neck and upper back sandy-grey, becoming a little browner on the inner secondaries and inner wing-coverts ; head and neck streaked with black, the streaks becoming broader on the mantle and changing to broken bars on the scapulars and inner secondaries, the longest of which have "herring-bone" markings of black ; lower bark and rump white: tail pale brown, greyer at the base, with narrow bars of blackish, then decreasing outwardly until the outermost feathers merely have two narrow longitudinal lines of dark brown ; primaries and outer secondaries dark brown, the latter tinged with grey and both with the inner web speckled with white and brown on two-thirds of their length ; primary coverts and edge of wing black ; median and secondary coverts brown-grey, narrowly edged with white; lower plumage white, the sides of the neck and head, fore-neck, breast and flanks spotted with black, the spots becoming bars on the sides of the lower breast and the flanks.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown ; bill dark horny-brown to blackish, the base of the lower mandible paler and greenish; legs and feet dull sage-green, olive-green or bluish-green.
Measurements. Wing, 131 to 138 mm., 133 to 143 mm.; tail 56 to 66 mm.; tarsus 48 to 58 mm.; culmen, 36 to 39 mm., 40 to 45 mm. The supposed form horsfieldi is not any smaller than typical glareola and cannot possibly be separated.
In Non-breeding plumage the forehead, short supercilium, sides of the head and lower plumage are unspotted white; the upper surface is much darker and browner, the shafts showing just a trifle darker, whilst the hinder crown and neck nearly always show a few dark streaks; the sides of the upper breast are generally more or less marked with brown.
Distribution. South-Eastern France, South Russia and the Southern Baltic Provinces and Western Asia to Central South Siberia and Turkestan, Dauria and East to Mongolia. In Winter it migrates South to Africa, Palestine, Arabia, India, Burma, Malaya, South China and Australia.
Nidification. The Marsh-Sandpiper breeds from the end of April to early June, making a well-lined nest in some natural hollow in among short thick grass on the edge of swamps and marshes. The nest is always very well hidden and the birds sit close, only rising at the last; moment with a zig-zag motion like that of a Dunlin. Sometimes they feign a wound and stagger across the ground with one wing dragging, trying to lead an intruder away from the vicinity of the nest. The eggs, as usual four in number, are handsome, having a pale stone or fawn to buff ground-colour with bold blotches of chocolate-brown or blackish disposed principally at the larger end with sparser secondary blotches of pale pinkish-lavender, Forty-eight eggs (thirty-four, Jourdain) average 38.5 x 27.1 mm.
This bird used to breed in great numbers in Hungary but so many of the marshes have been reclaimed that it has become a scarce breeding-bird in that country.
Habits. This little Sandpiper is not so much of a sea-shore bird as most of its family, keeping much to inland lakes and swamps, where it feeds on insects, small mollusca, small worms and coleoptera. In its actions it is like other small members of the genus but in colour-pattern it is very like the birds of the genus Glottis and further research may necessitate its transfer to that genus. Its bill, moreover, is not absolutely straight, though its curve upwards is hardly discernible.