Birds with a death wish


Many of our car journeys around Somerset (of which there were few--we walked most places) were considerably impeded by huge flocks of game birds mooching about on the roads. I don't think I've ever come across birds with fewer survival instincts. Despite the fact that I slowed to an absolute crawl, they seemed determined to hurl themselves into my path. If I braked to avoid a partridge on the left hand side of the road and steered around it to the right, the silly thing would suddenly run back into my path at the very last minute. Alternatively, a pheasant would run at its top speed along the road in front of the car, eventually get up enough ground speed to get airborne, only to land again about 10m ahead of the car.

I love animals to the extent that I avoid eating most of them[1], but these flippin' birds started irritating me so much that I was almost tempted not to bother with evasive action. I don't know a lot about game shooting, but I can't imagine that these specimens would be particularly good sport. If they can barely avoid getting squished by a car going at 3mph, I can't see that they would take a great deal of marksmanship to bring down. In fact, I can easily imagine that one might sit on the barrel of the shotgun, force its head into the muzzle and squawk, "Fire!".

[1] I have a simple rule; if I couldn't personally kill an animal, I don't eat it. I don't think that there's anything wrong with eating meat per se (though modern industrial farming techniques can make the animals' lives pretty miserable), but if I can't actually kill the food myself, then I am--in effect--hiring an assassin to do my dirty work for me. In case you're interested, this limits me to eating fish, shellfish and Crustacea. But not squid or octopi--they look at you funny. I don't claim that this is in any way logical, but it works for me.