(2122) Chettusia gregaria
The Sociable Lapwing
Charadrius gregarius Pallas, Beise Beichs. Buss., i, p. 456 (1771} (Volga). Chettusia gregaria. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 231.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description - Breeding plumage. Forehead and broad supercilium white; crown, lores and a line behind the eye black ; hind-neck narrowly white, meeting the supercilia; chin white; upper plumage, throat and breast light ashy-grey; upper tail-coverts white ; tail white, the central feathers suffused with grey ; wing-coverts ashy-grey, the greater secondary coverts broadly edged white; primary with coverts and primaries black, the latter with concealed black bases and the innermost one or two with white-tips and edges to the inner webs ; outer secondaries pure white,, inner like the back; lower breast black, the longest anterior feathers chestnut; vent, posterior flanks, abdomen and under tail-coverts white; tail white with a broad black band on all but the two outermost pairs of feathers and with only a black patch on the inner webs of the third outer pair.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown ; bill, legs and feet black.
Measurements. Wing 196 to 204 mm.: tail 84 to 91 mm.: tarsus 59 to 62 mm.; culmen 29 to 31 mm.
In non-breeding plumage. The crown is brown, the feathers sometimes showing black centres ; the forehead and crown more or less buffy-white; chin and throat white ; breast smoky-grey, mottled with brown ; abdomen, vent and posterior flanks smoky-white.
Young like the adult in non-breeding plumage, the feathers of the upper parts edged with light rufous.
Distribution. South-Eastern Bussia and Asia as far as Central Siberia, migrating South to North Africa and India and West to Western Europe.
Nidification. The Sociable Plover breeds in great numbers in the Southern and Eastern Russian Steppes from the end of March to early July, most eggs being laid between the 15th of April and the 15th of June. The nest is a scratching in the earth, unlined or lined with leaves, grass, moss etc. The eggs are four in number and much like those of the common Peewit, though the pale blue-grey type, so rare in the eggs of that bird, is comparatively common in this. Eighty-five eggs average 46.2 x 33.5 mm. : maxima 49.4 x 31.9 and 37.1 x 34.1 mm.; minima 43.1 X 32.3 and 44.0 x 21.3 mm.
Habits. The Sociable Plover is very much like the Lapwing in flight, food etc. but it is said to be much less shy and much easier to approach in the breeding-season. During this time it indulges in the same curious tumbling evolutions in the air but its call instead of being like the Lapwing's mewing wail is a loud, harsh, single note. On migration it assembles in very great numbers but in India it will only be found in small flocks. lu "Winter it is not uncommon in the North-West, ranging as far as the Southern Bombay Presidency in the South and East to the United Provinces and, rarely, Western Bengal. It keeps entirely to open country and to cultivated, or semi-cultivated, tracts rather than stony or sandy wastes and deserts.