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 . 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. Salt Lake City
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.