Sunday, 8 January 2012

Who was Coue?

Well, no-one, it turns out. Still trapped indoors, yesterday I found myself pondering who Coue, of the aforementioned redpoll, might have been. I have long been familiar with his name, since years ago I came by my copy of Peter Scott’s charming Coloured Key to the Wildfowl of the World in which I learned of Coues’ gadwall. Having an arguably spurious extinct duck named after one doesn’t exactly propel one into the ornithological stratosphere (Wilson, Temminck and Steller all did considerably better for themselves) but I felt I owed it to Coue to find out more. So I turned, as so often in times of doubt, to Wikipedia where I discovered that I had been short-changing the poor man a consonant. His name was Coues (note careful use of apostrophe in reference to his gadwall above); Elliott Coues to be precise, and he was a physician, an eminent naturalist and taxonomist, and the possessor of a marvellous beard. What’s more, his name was pronounced as in cows. You learn something every day.

His redpoll still dangles at Titchwell, and still I have not seen it this year. This morning, from my windows I did, however, manage not one but two dunnocks. Seventy-two. At this rate we’ll have reached eighty by Easter.


Prunella modularis

2012 Totals
Mammals: 2
Birds: 72
Reptiles: 0
Amphibians: 0
Fish: 0

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