Tuesday, 5 April 2016
Keats and Chapman were keen birdwatchers. Furthermore, they prided themselves on their taxonomic acuity when it came to the class Aves and rarely missed an opportunity to flaunt their knowledge. Such opportunities were limited, however, as no one else solicited their often colourless explanations.
Once, when they were plodding through the wetlands of Patagonia, their boots caked with mud, and discussing whether the name of the region really was derived from 'those of big feet', Keats spotted a large white bird swimming gracefully in the distance. Squinting through his monocular he pronounced with satisfaction, ' Coscoroba Swan'.
'Coscoroba coscoroba',' confirmed Chapman resheathing his telescope, 'an interesting case; known as a swan, but bearing many characteristics of a goose'.
Keats wondered aloud how his friend would categorize such an atypical waterfowl.
'I would say it's a swan goose'.
'What kind of an Anser is that?' asked Keats, confusingly.