(2141) Xenus cinereus cinereus.
THE WESTERN TEREK SANDPIPER.
Scolopax cinerea Gulden., Nov. Com. Petrop., xix, p. 473 (1774) (Caspian Sea). Terekia cinerea. Blanf. & Oates, iv, p. 258 (part.).
Vernacular names. None recorded.
Description. - Breeding plumage. Upper plumage brown ; the forehead and lores more or less streaked with white ; crown streaked with blackish-brown; hind-neck less distinctly streaked ; feathers of mantle with central streaks of blackish, larger and coalescing to form a fairly definite line on the scapulars; rump and upper tail-coverts mottled brown and white with brown shaft-lines ; tail-feathers grey-brown, mottled with white at the tip and on the edges of the outermost feathers; primaries dark brown, the first with a white shaft; all with a paler mark on the inner webs ; outer secondaries brown with broad white tips and edges ; coverts grey-brown, the innermost darkest; sides of the head, chin, throat, breast and flanks dull white streaked profusely with brown; under wing-coverts, axillaries, abdomen and under tail-coverts white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris brown; bill black or dark brown, yellowish at the base; legs and feet orange-yellow.
Measurements. Wing 128 to 136 mm.: tail 51 to 59 mm. ; tarsus about 27 to 31 mm.; culmen 44 to 53 mm.
In Winter the blackish streaks on the upper plumage are finer or even obsolete; the forehead and a short supercilium are almost immaculate white and the whole lower surface is pure white, sometimes faintly streaked on the sides of the neck, breast and the flanks.
Distribution. Northern Russia to Central Siberia, where it meets the next race. In Winter South to Africa, Arabia and India.
Nidification. The Terek Sandpiper breeds from Northern Russia to the Kolyma basin in Western Siberia, during late May and June. It has bred twice in Eastern Finland but is a rare breeder so far West as this. The nest is a depression in the soil or moss, generally well lined with grass, rushes or scraps of flood-wrack and, unlike most Sandpipers' nests, is generally placed under the lee of a sheltering hush, tuft of grass or other protection. The eggs, four in number, are very like those of the Marsh-Sandpiper, the ground-colour is a yellowish-grey or yellowish-buff with bold, but not very numerous, blotches of reddish- or sepia-brown and secondary markings of pale lavender. Seventy eggs (sixty-one Jourdain) average 38.5 X 26.5 mm.: maxima 42.6 X 26.3 and 39.7 X 28.0 mm.; minima 33.4 x 26.2 and 36.7 X 24.4 mm.
Habits. The Terek Sandpiper is a common Winter visitor to all the coasts and big tidal rivers of India and ascends these for hundreds of miles in Eastern Bengal, being common in Dacca and Mymensingh in some years. It generally associates in small flocks which feed on insects and also on tiny sand-hoppers and minute mollusca, a specimen I killed in Mymensingh having eaten nearly half an ounce of tiny snails, very little bigger than mustard-seeds. It may possibly be found to breed in Tibet, as I received the skin of a female, said to have been shot on her nest, near Gyantse, on the 9th of May, the one egg it contained being smashed by the same shot.