Monday, January 18, 2010

Isabelline Wheatear

Was this bird Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina) named after a soiled underwear? I hope it was not, but and interesting story goes like this. Isabella was the Archduchess of Austria and in 1601 her father Philip II of Spain laid siege to Ostend, which was under the Dutch. A successful siege here would ensure Spanish victory and in a joyous fervor Isabella vowed not to change her intimate undergarments until the city was taken. Unfortunetly for her, the seige ended only in 1604, nearly 3 years after she had taken the vow, leading to this off-colour word for over-worn underwear ( Isabellin colour is described as greyish-yellow colour). I have not idea of the authenticity of this story, but surely tickled my trivial instincts.
This insectivorous bird, landed on board during its migratory journey towards Africa from Asia. Out ship was off the Syrian coast heading towards Italy.