Total Pageviews

Sunday, October 6, 2013

A trip across the pond.

Authored by George Wrangham

Red Grouse or Willow Ptarmigan

          I photographed this Red Grouse on the high moors above Wensleydale in North Yorkshire ten days ago.  This lucky individual had so far escaped the ritual slaughter that opens on The Glorious Twelfth of August every year.  But I must admit that Grouse does taste awfully, awfully good, especially when hanged for two or three days after shooting.  When I was a student at Cambridge (King's College) it was a great point of kudos for undergraduates to hang a pheasant or a brace of partridges from the windowsills: it denoted that one was one of the huntin', shootin' and fishin' set.

          The other best bird I saw but regrettably was in no position to photograph was a female Goosander, a large species of Merganser which dwarfed the Mallards resting with it on a small wooden dock on the Steinbergersee in Bavaria. 
Female Goosander
          In England the estuary of the River Exe in Devon yielded Black-tailed Godwits tip-tilting high on the mud since their bills are long indeed and they point them vertically downward for prey, and Greenshank and Redshank. London's green spaces were filled to capacity with Magpies and the countryside with Carrion Crows, both of which were distinctly uncommon birds in my childhood when gamekeepers did their best to extirpate them.  
The original Robin

          Adorable European Robins, Great Tits, Chaffinches, Gold Finches and Blackbirds (a species of thrush with the identical habits and alarm call of the American Robin) were abundant -- also those Starlings, House Sparrows and city Pigeons for whose introduction into the New World all Americans are eternally grateful.


1 comment:

  1. Glad you got home, George. It sounds like a nice trip. Hoping to take a trip across the pond someday!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.