(2121) Vanellus vanellus.
THE LAPWING, PEEWIT, or GREEN PLOVER.
Tringa vanellus Linn., Syst. Nat., 10th ed., i, p. 148 (1758) (Sweden). Vanellus vulgaris. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 130.
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Breeding plumage. Pace, forehead, crown and long crest of narrow feathers black, glossed with green; feathers round the eye, lower ear-coverts, sides of the head and neck white; a black patch from the black face to the upper ear-coverts ; back, rump, scapulars and innermost secondaries bronze-green, highly glossed; the scapulars marked with violet-purple ; upper tail-coverts cinnamon; tail white with a very broad black subapical band, glossed green; wing-coverts glossed deep blue, purplish in some lights; primaries and outer secondaries black with pale brown tips to the first four primaries; throat, fore-neck and breast black, the black running up to the back on the anterior neck: under tail-coverts cinnamon; under wing-coverts black; remaining lower plumage and axillaries white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill black; legs and feet orange-brown.
Measurements. Wing 220 to 236 mm.; tail 108 to 119 mm.; tarsus 44 to 48 mm.; culmen 23.0 to 26.5 mm. (Hartert).
In non-breeding plumage the crown is brown rather than black; the face, chin, throat and fore-neck are white, more or less speckled or marked with brown or black; the scapulars, inner wing-coverts and innermost secondaries are edged with fulvous as are the black feathers of the breast.
Young birds have the upper parts brown, each feather edged with fulvous ; the back is slightly glossed with purple-bronze and the wings with green ; lower plumage like the adult in Winter.
Nestling in down. Hind-neck dull white, remaining upper parts fulvous-brown, mottled with black; a black line from eye to eye round the back of the crown ; a broad, but broken median black line down the back and a fairly well-defined black line from wing to wing bordering the back and round the tail; a black line from the side down the thighs; upper fore-neck blackish; remaining, underparts white or dull fulvous-white.
Distribution. The whole of Europe and North Asia. In Winter South to North Africa, India, Burma, the Indo-Chinese- countries and South China. In India it is comparatively common in the Punjab and North-West. It is a regular, though not common visitor, to Assam and Eastern Bengal and has also been shot in Burma.
Nidification. The Lapwing breeds from the end of March to the end of May but most eggs are laid in early April. The eggs are laid in depressions in the earth, sometimes just a footprint or natural hollow, sometimes scratched out by the birds. These may be quite bare or fairly well lined with moss, weeds or grass. The eggs, four in number, vary in ground-colour from pale yellowish-stone, pale olive-brown or greyish-brown to fairly warm buff or brown, profusely blotched and spotted with dark brown all over. In shape they are rather peg-topped, whilst one hundred British eggs average 47.0 x 33.7 mm. : maxima 58.0 x 32.5 and 47.4 x 37.2 mm.; minima 42.3 X 33.5 and 44.7 X 31.2 mm.
Habits. In India the Lapwing is not uncommon in the North-West and North, as far as the United Provinces, from October to March but its range extends a good deal farther East and there are few years in which some are not seen in Cachar and Lakhimpur, South and East of the Brahmaputra. It assembles in enormous flocks in Europe but in India either in small flocks, in pairs, or singly. Its flight is a leisurely flapping but it indulges in much tumbling and twisting about and is capable of great speed when frightened. The well-known call is supposed to be syllabified in its name of " Pee-wit " but is more a mewing cry than this word would express. It feeds on all kinds of insects, worms etc. and destroys many wire-worms on ploughed land. Its eggs are famous all over Europe as an article of food for epicures.