“Oh look – there’s a Siskin.”

“Oh look – there’s a Siskin”, I say to myself as a small green finch with yellow stripes appears. I’m suddenly not sure whether I’ve just said that aloud or not. That’s okay though, isn’t it? They say that it’s fine to talk to yourself; the time to worry is when you start answering yourself back. I haven’t started doing that yet though. Oh, hold on…

I’ve never seen a Siskin before but I can recognise it instantly. A childhood borrowing books from the library and saving up to buy my very own guide to birds means that even though it’s forty years later I know exactly what it is. When I saw a Red-Breasted Merganser recently I could hear a voice telling me “That’s a Merganser” even though there was nobody there and I’d never seen one before. When someone showed me a photograph they had taken of a bird they needed help in identifying I said “It looks like a Bar-Tailed Godwit”, without even thinking. “Where did that come from?” I wondered. How strange to hear yourself say words you didn’t know you knew, buried deep beneath decades of experience.

Here then, is that Siskin. I think the males are brighter with the darker cap. It’s a beautiful bird.

Siskin - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Siskin - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

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