COTILE PALUDICOLA (Vieill.).
Hirondelle des Marais on la Brunette, Levaill. Ois. d’Afr. v. p. 158, pl. 246. fig. 2 (1806).
Hirundo paludicola, Vieill. N. Dict. d’Hist. Nat. xiv. p. 511 (1817) ; [Guerin in Ferr, et Gal. Voy. Abyss, iii. p. 242 ; Des Murs in Lefebvre Voy. Abyss, p. 79 (1847);] Grill, Zool. Anteekn. pp. 10, 36 (1858).
Hirundo palustris, Steph. Gen. Zool. x. p. 101 (1817).
Cotyle paludibula, Rupp. Neue Wirb. p. 106 (1835) ; id. Syst. Uebers, p. 22 (1845) ; Heugl. Syst. Uebers. p. 17 (1856).
Cotyle palustris, Cab. Mus. Hein. Th. i. p. 49 (1850) ; Tip. Consp, i. p. 31 (1850) ; Cass. Cat. Hirund. Mus. Philad. Aead. p. 11 (1853) ; Layard, P. S. Afr. p. 58 (1867) ; Gurney, Ibis, 1868, p. 464 ; Ayres, Ibis, 1870, p. 424.
Cotyle albiventris, Licht. Nomencl. Av. p. 61 (1854).
Cotyle paludicola, Sundev. Krit. Framst., Levaill, p. 52 (1857) ; Heugl. Ibis, 1859, p. 339 (pt.); Kirk, Ibis, 1864, p. 320 ; Gurney, t. c. p. 347 ; Heugl. Orn. N.O.- Afr. i. p. 107 (1869, pt.); Sharpe, P. Z. S. 1870, p. 302 ; id. Cat. Afr. P. p. 45 (1871) ; Ayres, Ibis, 1874, p. 102 ; Buckley, t. c. p. 375 ; Shelley, Ibis, 1875, p. 68 ; Butler, Feilden, & Reid, Zool. 1882, p. 251 ; Sharpe, cd. Layard’s B. S. Afr. pp. 361, 840 (1883) ; Seebohm, Ibis, 1887, p. 343.
Cotile paludicola, Gray, Hand-l. B. i. p. 74, no. 877 (1869) ; Ayres, Ibis, 1880, p. 260 ; Sharpe, Cat. Birds in Brit. Mus. x. p. 102 (1885).
C. minor : cauda haud albo maculata : subcaudalibus albis : torque praepeetorali nulla : gutture et pec¬tore brunneis, coneoloribus.
Hab. in Africa, mcridionali.
Adult. General colour above uniform brown ; bastard-wing, primary-coverts, and quills dark brown, the inner secondaries edged with lighter brown ; tail-feathers dark brown : lores dusky brown ; cheeks, throat, and breast brown, with a slight hoary shade on the throat ; sides of the body brown like the breast ; centre of abdomen, lower Hanks, and under tail-coverts white: thighs brown ; axillaries and under wing-coverts brown, the coverts near the edge of the wing edged with whitish ; quills dusky below : “bill and feet black ; iris dark hazel” [E. Buckley). Total length 4.8 inches, culmen 0.3, wing 4.15, tail 2.3, tarsus 0.45.
In Capt. Shelley’s collection is a specimen killed by himself in the Cape Colony which has the whole under surface brown, including the under tail-coverts. A like specimen, but rather darker on the lower parts, was obtained by Colonel Butler near Newcastle in June, and Canon Tristram has a similar bird from the Transvaal. We have been unable to account for these variations in plumage, and are uncertain whether they are simply the signs of the very old birds, or con¬stitute a melanistie variety. The Natal birds have more white on the abdomen than those from the Cape ; and one from the Zambesi has the white on the lower parts still more extended, approaching C. minor of North-eastern Africa.
Mr. Thomas Ayres says :—“Specimens with the underparts dark, and entirely whole-coloured, are to be seen in company with the white-bellied birds, but are not nearly so common." Colonel Butler believes that the dark-coloured individuals are immature birds, but we cannot see any evidence of this in his specimens.
Young. Differs from the adult in having sandy-rufous edges to the feathers of the upper parts, and in having the under surface likewise washed with rufous.
Hab. South Africa, from the Cape Colony to the Zambesi.
As far as the evidence at our disposal goes, we have little hesitation in considering the present species to he strictly confined to South Africa, and we anticipate that all refer¬ences to the birds’ occurrence in North-eastern Africa will ultimately be found to have been intended for Cottle minor.
The following account of the species in the Cape Colony is taken from Sharpe’s edition of Layard’s ‘Birds of South Africa ’:—
“The Cape Bank-Swallow is the earliest comer of all our migratory Swallows and Swifts. It is rarely seen far from water, and breeds in the banks of rivers or artificial dams, over which it continually hawks for flies. It lays three or four white eggs, of the same size and shape as those of our European C. riparia, and the nest is often run to the depth of two or three feet into the soil, when it is loose and friable.
“Mr. Cairneross, of Swellendam, informs us that, if the winter is mild, it remains about that part of the country during the whole year. Mr. Jackson has sent it from Nel’s Poort. He also states that it stays with him all the year round. We' saw this little species hawking about over a river in the Strand Veldt near Mr. J. Van der Byl’s residence at mid-winter (end of June 1868). We found it breeding at the Berg River in the banks in the month of September. We also found it breeding at the ‘Clay pits’ near Graham’s Town. Captain Shelley writes :—‘At Ceres, in Cape Colony, I found this species very abundant, reminding me strongly of C. riparia, from which its dull-coloured breast most readily distinguishes it,’ The late Dr. Bradshaw informed us that he found it to be a common species on the Orange River, where it is an early arrival and stays late. Mr. T. E. Buckley obtained one specimen out of a flock at Pietermaritzburg. Mr. Thomas Ayres gives the following note on the species in Natal :—‘These Martins I have never seen on the coast. I found many of them during the winter months about the streams near Pietermaritzburg ; they occasionally alighted to rest on the overhanging reeds, where, I have no doubt, they roost at night, as I have frequently found them thus perched before the sun rose. Sometimes they hunted singly, sometimes in companies ; and their flight being very eccentric, I found them difficult to shoot.’ ”
Colonels Butler and Feilden and Captain Reid write:—“A permanent and most abundant resident in the neighbourhood of Newcastle. It probably breeds twice, for Feilden found a nest containing three incubated eggs in the bank of the Buffalo River, on the 6th of August, and it was undoubtedly breeding in the clay banks of the rivers and streams near Newcastle in October and November.”
Mr. Ayres writes :—“This Martin is as common in the Transvaal in June and July as it is in the upper districts of Natal. They are fond of following in the course of a river, skimming along with rather eccentric flight within a few feet of the surface of the water.”
In the Transvaal it is found all the year round, according to Mr. Ayres, and was noticed by him in the Lydenburg district. A specimen is in the British Museum from Shupanga on the Zambesi, where it was procured by Sir John Kirk as it was flying round the ship in the Elephant Marsh.
The descriptions are taken from the British Museum ‘Catalogue of Birds,’ and the figures in the Plate are drawn from specimens in Captain Shelley’s collection.
COTILE PALUDICOLA (Vieill.).