Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/167

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BIRDS. ALPINE HARES.

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new kinds of birds and mammalia, peculiar to the deserts of Tibet.

The most remarkable of the birds was a species of lark (Melanocorypha maxima) larger than a starling; inhabiting the tufted marshy grass, an exquisite songster. Two kinds of Montifringilla (M. ruficollis and another) and a Podoces humilis were occupying the burrows of the alpine hare. The Mongol sand-grouse (Syrrhaptes paradoxus) is a rarer bird in these steppes than its allied Tibetan species (Syrrhaptes Tibetanus), which is larger and has a different note. The waders (Grallatores) had left before our arrival, and of the web-footed tribe only a few geese (Anser cinereus), ducks (Anas boschas, A. rutila, A. crecca, Fuligula cristata), cormorants (Phalacrocorax carbo), and gulls (Larus Ichtyætus, L. ridibundus) remained. We thought that the autumnal migration must have passed, but our observations in the following spring proved that Lake Koko-nor did not abound in waterfowl or wading birds. Among birds of prey, vultures and lammergeiers daily visit its shores in search of food, and numerous buzzards, hawks, and eagles appear to winter here for the sake of feeding on the alpine hares that are found so abundantly.

The last-named animal, differing very slightly in appearance, size, and voice from its Mongol congener, inhabits in extraordinary numbers the pasture land at the foot of the mountains; honeycombing the ground for miles, so that it is dangerous to ride