(1146) Riparia riparia subsoccata.
The Small SAND-MARTIN.
Cotyle subsoccata Jerdon, B. of I., i, p 163 (1863) (Nepal). Cotile riparia Blanf. & Gates, ii, p. 272 (part). Riparia riparia indica Ticehurst, Ibis, 1916, p. 7J (Punjab).
Vernacular names. Abali (Hindi).
Description. Similar to the preceding bird but much smaller, paler and with the pectoral band less strongly developed.
Colours of soft parts as in B. r. diluta.
Measurements. Wing 91 to 98 mm. (generally under 96 nun.); tail 40 to 44 mm.; tarsus about 9 to 10 mm.; culmen about 5 to 6 mm.
Distribution. Breeding over the whole of Northern India from Afghanistan, Kashmir, Garhwal to Nepal and Buxa Duars, South it extends to Sind, the Punjab, United Provinces and Bihar.
The name subsoccata, which I use for this bird, has always been considered a synonym of chinensis, why, it is impossible to say, as Jerdon mentions the two principal characteristics which at once separate it from that species. " An irregular band of greyish-umber on the breast "and "tarsus nearly naked," i. e. not quite naked. The description he gives is an excellent one, whilst its small size, wings 3 3/10 in., suffices to show that the description is not that of diluta or ijimae.
Nidification. The Small Sand-Martin is a resident species, breeding throughout its known area of habitat. Like other Sand-Martins it breeds in colonies, often of considerable size, making burrows in the sandy banks of rivers during the season of lowest water. The burrows vary according to the nature of the soil; where it is easy to work they may be as much as six feet in length or even more, where difficult, two feet or less. They end in a chamber, about 7 inches by 5, in which is placed the nest, a rough bed of grass and feathers, mixed with other odd scraps, picked up floating on the river or wind-blown on laud. The eggs number three to six and are pure white, almost glossless and decidedly fragile. Forty eggs average 16.5 x 12.l mm.: maxima 17.3 X 12.3 and 16.9 X 12.6 mm.; minima 15.4 X12.0 and 16.9 x 11.3 mm. In the Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province they breed in March.
Habits. Those of the genus. Outside the Punjab and the North-West Frontier Province this appears to be a rare bird, occurring only as a straggler elsewhere and that principally during the rainy season when individuals wander to great distances.