(1148) Riparia paludicola chinensis.
The Indian Sand-Martin.
Kir undo chinensis Gray, in Hardw. 111. Ind. Orn., i, pi. xxxv, fig. 3 (1830-32) (China). " Cotile sinensis. Blanf. & Oates, ii, p. 273.
Vernacular names. Abali (Hind.) ; Nakuti (Beng.).
Description. Upper plumage greyish-brown, the wing-quills and tail darker; chin to lower breast smoky-grey ; remainder of lower plumage white; the rump is generally paler than elsewhere and the crown rather darker ; in quite fresh plumage the wing-coverts, scapulars and innermost secondaries have distinct pale sandy edges.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dark bright brown ; bill black ; legs and feet dark brown.
Measurements. Total length about 110 mm.; wing 88 to 94 mm.; tail about 38 to 41 mm.; tarsus 9 to 10 mm.; culmen about 5 mm.
Young birds have broad rufous margins to the feathers of the upper plumage, wings and tad and also have the throat and breast a paler grey.
Distribution. The whole of India as far South as the Bombay Presidency and the Deccan on the West and Cuttack on the East; Assam, Burma South to Tenasserim, the Indo-Chinese countries and South China. It is also found in both Formosa and the Philippines.
Nidification. In Assam I found this bird breeding from October to February. In Burma Hopwood took eggs in March, in Bengal and Bihar they breed practically throughout the cold and dry months of the year, i. e. from November to April, whilst in Northern and Western India fresh eggs have been recorded as late as May. They keep almost entirely to river-banks for nesting purposes but occasionally they may be found nesting in sandy cliffs away from water, or in banks of lakes and ponds. The burrows vary from 18 inches to about four feet in length, excluding the chamber, which may be about six inches long by rather less in width. The nest is a pad of grass and feathers, often quite bulky but sometimes very flimsy and poor. The eggs number two to four but sometimes two females appear to lay in one nest, as I have found seven or eight eggs in one nest, obviously of two different clutches. They are pure white and practically glossless even when first laid. One hundred eggs average 17.0 x 12.0 mm.: maxima 18.3 x 11.9 and 17.6 x 12.7 mm.; minima 14.5 x 11.2 mm.
Habits. These do not differ from those of other Sand-Martins. They keep very much to water when hawking for their insect prey but burning grass or jungle soon attracts them on account of the myriads of insects which endeavour to escape the fire by flying above it. They are very common over the greater part of the area they inhabit and are familiar, confiding birds, often breeding in close vicinity to villages and towns. They collect in large colonies, seldom less than twenty or thirty pairs and sometimes ten times the latter number. They are not migratory but move locally a good deal, according to the water-supply and the consequent insect-life.