(2147) Tringa totanus totanus.
THE RED SHANK.
Scolopax totanus Linn., Syst. Nat., 10th ed., i, p. 145 (1758) (Sweden). Totanus calidris. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 264 (part.).
Vernacular names. Chota Batan (Hind.); Mali-kotan (Tam.); Maha-matuwa (Cing.).
Description. Upper plumage dark brown, the feathers of the crown and neck edged with fulvous, the inner secondaries and scapulars with bars of black and notches of fulvous ; wing-coverts much barred black and rufescent white; lower back and rump white; upper tail-coverts white barred with brown; tail barred pale rufous and brown, the lateral tail-feathers white and brown ; primaries dark brown, the first with a white shaft, inner primaries mottled with white on the inner webs and tips ; outer secondaries pure white, the latter mottled with brown on the inner webs ; chin and throat white; sides of head, neck, breast and flanks white streaked with brown, varying much in extent; centre of abdomen and axillaries pure white; under tail-coverts white streaked with blackish.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill black, reddish on the basal third ; legs and feet orange-red, claws black.
Measurements. Wing 150 to 168 mm., rarely 137 to 150 mm., probably young birds; tail 69 to 85 mm.; tarsus about 45 to 52 mm.; culmen 40 to 49 mm.
In Winter the black markings and fulvous spots on the upper part disappear and the general tint is more grey, less brown ; the underpays have the streaks much smaller and restricted to the sides of the neck, lower fore-neck and breast; the forehead is white and the sides of the head and neck much less heavily streaked.
Young birds are more rufous above, the fulvous spots on the scapulars etc. more marked and the flanks are more banded with black.
Nestling. Above rufous-buff, more fulvous on the sides of the head ; well-marked black lines from forehead to crown, two lateral coronal bands meeting behind crown, through the eye from lores to the side of the neck; dark central and dorsal streaks ; two dark lines on wings, one round the flanks and uropygium.
Distribution. Throughout Europe, Northern Asia, Asia Minor, etc. to the Himalayas as far East as Setchuan. In Winter it migrates South to South Africa and South Asia, India, Burma, China, Philippines etc.
Nidification. The Redshank breeds from early April to the middle of June. It makes no nest but lays its four eggs in a depression in the middle of a tuft of grass. It is always, or nearly always, carefully concealed by the growing grass but its position is often disclosed by the way the grass is curled round the opening above it. Although the birds sometimes nest in thick coarse grass and weeds, they prefer such as is short in meadows, or thin and wiry on sand-hills and sea-shores. Occasionally they collect in colonies and I have seen twelve nests in a quarter of one field and another time seven on the crest of a small sand-ridge about two hundred yards long. The four eggs are very handsome; their ground-colour varies from pale yellowish-stone to rich ochre-buff or buff, more rarely a greenish-stone colour. The marks consist of blotches of rich reddish-brown and purple-black with underlying spots of lavender and reddish-grey. In some specimens the markings are reduced to small specks and spots and there is every grade of marking intermediate between the two, but streaks and scrolls are quite exceptional. One hundred British eggs average 44.5 x 31.5 mm.: maxima 48.0 x 32.0 and 46.5 x 33.1 mm.; minima 41.5 x 28.5 mm.
In India the birds in Ladak, Kashmir and Tibet lay during June and July and they certainly breed up to an elevation of 14,500 feet and possibly higher still. They are common breeding-birds throughout Ladak and Tibet.
Habits. During the breeding-season the Redshank keeps much to marshes, wet meadows, grass-covered sand-hills etc., but when the young are hatched and fledged they resort to the sea-shore and almost entirely desert the inland waters. In India, however, they may be found during the cold weather in almost any large marsh or on the big rivers. They are shy birds and generally rise at some distance, uttering their loud but musical " twe-ee, twe-ee " as they rise. As a rule they will be found in pairs or single but on arrival in India during September, and again on their departure in early April, they may often be seen in flocks of scores or even hundreds.