The campsite is just in the trees near the bottom of the photo, at this end of the lake. We thought it would be good to get some firewood from the logging slash piles behind the camp. If we didn’t need it, we could leave it for the next campers.
In the sweltering heat on the hillside, we cut and loaded a few bits of wood.
“We must be completely nuts to even think of making a fire. It has to be 30 degrees C,” I said, wanting to get back to the shade of the campsite.
But the evenings can cool off, so we persevered.
On the way back, at the bottom of the hill, I saw something.
“Stop! There! Is that a bird … or … is it a … stick? Or a rock?”
From inside the truck and at this distance I couldn’t tell what it was. I had been fooled many, many times by rocks or sticks that looked like a grouse at the side of the road.
“I’ll zoom it and take a picture. Then I might be able to see what it is…. It’s probably just a stick.”
Through the truck window the blurry photo really looked like a grouse, but the … thing … hadn’t moved an inch in the two minutes we had been sitting there in the truck.
“Just wait,” I said. “I know it’s just a log or something, but I want to go over to it and take a picture of the stick that fooled me.”
I got out of the truck. It still didn’t move. With my camera ready, I was about to snap a picture of the stick, when it flew away.
But sticks never fly away with tail feathers spread out in a glorious rusty brown colour. It was a ruffed grouse.
At home I put the picture in my photoshop app and lightened the dark shape. Now, even in the fuzzy picture, I could see the rusty colour and other features like an eye and a beak and a tuft of a topknot.
He was very good at hiding in the twisted roots of a fallen giant tree nearby. Although I looked for him, I didn’t see him again. Just lots of sticks and rocks.