Thursday 2 June 2011

The chaffinch is back

Last year, on May 19th in fact, I blogged about a chaffinch which flew up and banged into the top of the window pane beside my desk. If you want to check it, it's here. At the time, I took a picture of my window from the viewpoint of his take-off area but could only see the blurred reflection of a tree (blurred because it’s reflected from the two layers of double-glazing). I did the same today and you can see the result, which doesn’t seem to me to contain anything that might look particularly inviting to a chaffinch. Last year, my speculations ran as follows: ‘Maybe the soul of a critic has transmigrated into his body and he hates writers. Maybe he’s practising some arcane act for the next Simon Cowell show – ‘Nature’s Got Talent’ or something. Maybe  he’s a chaffinch philosopher and he’s just proving that ultimate satisfaction is unattainable.’

But here he is, back again, within a few weeks of the date of his last visit, so I need to adjust my thinking. It must be an annual pilgrimage. Now I’m not enough of an ornithologist to know whether birds have religions so, for all I know, my window might be the avian equivalent of Jerusalem, Mecca or Salt Lake City. On the other hand, it’s just one chaffinch. It may be a different one from last year but it’s still just one – and it’s not much of a religion if it’s only got one follower.

Much more sensible is to assume it’s a migration, but I checked that and they mostly migrate in Autumn, so what’s going on with this particular  Fringilla coelebs? (See, I take it seriously enough to consult Wikipedia.) It’s obviously an unconventional chaffinch. Not only does it migrate in May/June, when all its fellows are singing, building nests and fornicating, it also migrates not to Finland or other parts of Scandinavia but to a small spot at the top of my study window. It’s clearly a rebel chaffinch and, if I had the time, it would be interesting to study all its habits. I imagine it building a nest out of lego, walking past a bird table laden with seeds in search of a cheese sandwich, shaking its ironic head at its fellows whistling their heads off in the branches as it strums a ukulele and does an impersonation of Bob Dylan,. There are so many possibilities. I could even write up my observations and submit a paper to some learned biological journal. Indications of solipsistic deviance in some aspects of migratory behavioural patterns in male Fringilla Coelebs in north east Scotland, then recycle the article to a tabloid under the heading CHAFFINCH IN FRENZIED ATTACK ON WRITER.

Then there’s his name. If we assume Fringilla to be his given name, he’d make the perfect Romantic heroine. I realise that would mean he’d be cross-dressing as well, but he’s a rebel, remember, so it would come naturally to him. “Fringilla looked at her reflection in the window pane, shuddered with delight at its intoxicating beauty and hurled herself into his arms”. But wait – why didn’t I think of this before? The name. It’s a sign. A natural magnet for the paparazzi – drop the ‘o’ and maybe the ‘s’ and you have Fringilla Celeb. And he’s chosen MY window. What a day.


  1. Somebody, please pass the paper towels... I was fine right up to the cross-dressing, then it was simply too much for me

  2. If I were you, Bill I'd keep on ignoring the doctor's advice. Your imaginarium is a much more interesting place without them.

    (ps. my word verification was "mental" - or close enough. Just sayin'.)

  3. Hmm - that chaffinch is trying to tell you something, but don't ask me what. Or he's short-sighted and is determined to get to that tree.

  4. Rosemary is right. There's a subliminal message there. Could be feed me... pay attention to me... what are you doing... you don't suppose once a year your muse takes on a different form? Hey maybe that's my muse (George)? He's gone walkabout and haven't had any interaction for a while. If the chaffinch answers to that name, would you please send him back to Canada?

  5. 1) This could be a classic example of projection, where you are offloading your own issues onto Fringie, casting your demons out in an attempt to clear your creative head. I'm tempted to suggest that Stanley fulfills a similar function.

    2) Get the screens, nurse, he's seeing the chaffinch again.

  6. Diane, your compassion for animals is legendary. To see one of them travestied in this way must hurt.

    Michael, I’ve always suspected that those word verifications were subversive. I note, too, that you share my brother’s scepticism about my sanity, the only difference being that yours is wrapped in kindness.

    Rosemary and Melanie, thank you. It’s good to know that there are sensible explanations for all this. Rosemary, I’d be grateful if you’d send me the information you have on myopic Fringillas. And Melanie, all it needs is for me to be seen wandering the woods calling ‘George’ at every chaffinch I pass for the white coated men to incarcerate me for good.

    And as for you, bro … Fringie? Fringie? So he’s a mate of yours, is that it? Or perhaps you just identify with him as my tormentor. Oh, and if I were you, I wouldn’t let Stanley hear that you’d likened him to a rebel chaffinch.

  7. I remember that post, Bill. It's just as much fun this time,

    Hi, just getting my internet out of suspension, not home yet but soon. I'll have to catch up on your blog posts. I've missed so much. But I have picked up Diane's Dragon Academy thinking I'd get time to read it. Not much free time in the last seven weeks.

  8. Hi Marley, it's good to hear from you. The last I heard you were concerned about the flood threats and warnings. Presumably they're the reason for your silence. I hope things weren't as disastrous as they threatened to be.