COTILE SHELLEYI, Sharpe.
Cotyle littoralis, Hempr. & Ehr. MSS.; Licht. Nomencl. Mus. Berol, p. 61 (1854: deser, nulla).
Cotyle riparia (nec L.), Swinh. Ibis, 1864, p. 414 ; E. C. Taylor, Ibis, 1867, p. 57 ;
Shelley, B. Egypt, p. 121 (1872).
Cotile shelleyi, Sharpe, Cat. B. Brit. Mus. x. p. 100 (1885).
C. similis C. riparioe, et. subalaribus brunncis, sed valde minor. Ala 4.35 poll.
Hab. in Africa septentrionali-orientali.
Adult, male. Similar to C. riparia, but paler and much smaller. Total length 4.1 inches, culmen 0.3, wing 3.55, tail 1.65, tarsus 0.35.
Hab. North-eastern Africa : Upper Egypt to the Red Sea coast.
The Egyptian Sand-Martin seems to constitute a permanently small race of the Common Sand-Martin. It is a much smaller bird, somewhat lighter than the generality of the specimens of C. riparia, and with a narrower band on the chest. Dr. Sharpe named the species Cotile shelleyi, in honour of Captain G. E. Shelley, who has written the standard work on Egyptian Ornithology ; but Dr. Reichenow has pointed out that the Egyptian Sand-Martin is really Cotile lilloralis of Hemprich and Ehrenberg from the Argo Islands, of which no description was ever published. The name has generally been referred to Cotile minor of Cabanis, but the typical specimens in the Berlin Museum show that it belongs properly to the form described by Sharpe as C. shelleyi.
Captain Shelley says:—“This bird arrives in Egypt in great abundance in March, and towards the end of April commences breeding in colonies in the banks of the river side. It is extremely partial to the neighbourhood of water, and may be constantly seen skimming over the surface in its graceful flight, at times just touching the surface sufficiently to raise a slight ripple or dashing rapidly after its mate in the exuberance of its spirits.”
Dr. John Anderson, during a recent visit to Egypt, very kindly interested himself in the matter of the Sand-Martins, and induced some of his friends to collect specimens, so that the British .Museum lias lately received from Colonel Edgar Larking several examples from Upper Egypt; and Mr. J. C. Besly has also forwarded an example from Suez, but the latter proved to he the true C. riparia.
The exact range of the species is at present not defined. We believe, in fact, that many of the records attributed to Cotile minor really belong to C. shelleyi, as, for instance, when Baron von Heuglin states that the former species “breeds in Egypt,” and is common in Central Egypt along the whole of the Nile,” we fancy that he has confused the two species together. We have endeavoured to show the ranges of both, as at present ascertained, in the maps of geographical distribution.
The description is taken from the type specimen in the Shelley Collection. No Plate has been attempted, as the colours of the species are so similar to those of C. riparia as to render a figure unnecessary.
For the geographical distribution of this species, vide infra, Plate 30 [Map].
COTILE SHELLEYI, Sharpe.