(2124) Hoplopterus ventralis.
THE SPUR-WINGED PLOVER.
Charadrius ventralis Wagl., Syst. Av., no. ii (1827) (Calcutta). Hoptoplerus ventralis. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 229.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. Whole crown and full crest to the nape, lores, chin, throat and cheeks black bordered with white; hind-neck vinous-grey, passing into light brown on the back, rump, scapulars, inner coverts and inner secondaries; upper tail-coverts white; tail white at the base, black on the terminal half, the outer tail-feathers narrowly tipped with white; primary coverts and primaries black, the bases of the latter white, this increasing in extent until the central secondaries are pure white; outer lesser wing-coverts black ; median and greater coverts white; upper breast almost white, shading into vinous-grey on the sides of the neck and browner grey on the lower breast; centre of abdomen black ; remainder of underparts white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark brown ; bill black ; legs and feet horny-brown to reddish-black.
Measurements. Wing 185 to 205 mm.; tail 88 to 94 mm.; tarsus about 64 to 67 mm.; culmen 26 to 2S mm.
Distribution. Practically the whole of Eastern India as far West as, and including, the Central and United Provinces; Assam, Burma, the Indo-Chinese Countries and South China. In the North-West it extends to the foot-hills of Garhwal and Kashmir.
Nidification. The Spur-Winged Plover breeds both on the bigger rivers and the smaller streams running far into the hills. The hollow scratched for the eggs may be either in shingle or in sand, whilst very often the eggs are laid on rocks or among quite large boulders where a little sand or small shingle has lodged, Undoubtedly the birds prefer shingle and rocks to sand but occasionally they may be found breeding in open marshlands among Terns and Pratincoles. The normal clutch of eggs is four, though in some areas three only is quite common. They are very like the eggs of Lobivanellus but, on the whole, duller and more grey or olive-brown in general tone as well as rather more long in shape. The ground-colour is pale stone-yellow, dull grey-brown, or buff, rarely at all warm or bright. The markings consist of blotches, spots and smudges of blackish with others of lavender underlying and inconspicuous. It is exceptional for the markings to stand out at all boldly in contrast to the ground. The average of one hundred eggs is 41.1 x 29.4 mm.: maxima 46.1 X 30.0 and 42.0 x 31.7 mm.; minima 38.1 X 29.0 and 39.0 x 28.0 mm.
The breeding-season is from the middle of March to the middle of April.
Habits. The flight, walk and general actions of this Plover are very like those of the Peewit but this bird keeps entirely to streams, running about on the shingle and sand and every now and then flapping slowly away to a fresh feeding-ground- Its call is a loud and most persistent " Did-he-do-it, Did-he-do-it," finishing up with " Yes he did." Young and old swim well.