Saturday, November 20, 2010

Silly Partridge, er, Spruce Grouse!

When you're out skiing, you always hope for some wildlife. Fortunately, the bears, which you do not want to encounter under any circumstances, are sound asleep up in the mountains somewhere. Do bears dream? Science is mute on the subject. Moose, of course. Foxes sometimes. When all else fails, there is often the silly partridge.
In reality, this is no partridge. It is an Alaska Spruce Grouse. But I call them Silly Partridges, because their preservationist instinct is well below the norm. Dumb, in fact. This is why in fall, when they are fair game, they wind up in many a village pot. I play a game with these silly birds. How close can I get? The art is to move very, very slowly. And space the intervals. Apparently the silly things have no size sensor, they don't notice I am getting closer... and closer.

So far my record is about one meter. I think I could get even closer. It is all patience, you see. Of course the Russian village uses a .22 or maybe a .410 shotgun. If times get really bad maybe I could hunt them, but I kind of like the dumb clucks.

The one in the picture would fly away for maybe 3 meters. I, of course, advanced the same amount. We played this game for a while, until M. or Mme. Silly P. flew up into a spruce tree. I still could have reached it with a ski pole! One wonders if Darwin got it all. If the Beagle had visited Alaska, maybe he'd change his mind.

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