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Pheasant On The Road

Biker Bio-Hazards: The Pheasant

Like looking at wildlife? On Scottish roads, there’s some you need to look OUT for. Here’s another in our handy guide to biking biological hazards – the pea-brained pheasant.

There’s a whole sub-genre of humour based on the premise that beauty and brains can’t go together. Yes, you guessed it: blonde jokes.

Despite not being the least bit blonde, we at Clover Central think this is a ridiculous notion. However, the wildlife of Scotland does have its very own blonde-joke-make-flesh – the pheasant. This feathery menace is definitely beautiful – those iridescent colours on a sunny day, wow! – but definitely also INCREDIBLY STUPID.

As riders, we all know the importance of anticipation: using our powers of observation to predict what might happen next, and planning a course of action to avoid possible hazards. Unfortunately, the pheasant’s tiny avian brain appears to have been issued with a defective anticipation algorithm. Or perhaps it’s still running Windows Vista.

No matter that you’ve been riding the world’s rumbliest Hog down a long straight towards a distant hedgerow for the best part of the last two minutes; the pheasant lurking in said hedgerow will only develop an inkling of peril at the latest possible moment – just in time to fling itself straight at your front wheel or helmet. (That’s if it can actually manage to disentangle itself from the hedgerow, and not trip over its own feet, neither of which is a given).

Pheasants, comely though they are, seem to struggle with the very concept of being a bird. They’re only marginally better at flying than chickens. Far from being charmingly birdlike, their “startled” noise more closely resembles the sound of an assertively-missed gear change in an unloved Morris Minor.

Given their shonky hazard-avoidance skills, we suspect that the only reason pheasants aren’t extinct is that helpful humans actually breed and release them in large numbers each year, principally in order to shoot at them. (I suppose it’s possible that some humans breed and release them for the pleasure of proxy-strafing passing motorcyclists… but the pheasants are so dim-witted they’d probably make a mess of that if actively tasked to do it.)

The upshot [Ed: See what we did there?] is that if you’re riding Scottish country roads, be aware that solitary pheasants often lurk in hedgerows, tall grasses and in fields just behind walls. It’s rare to actively collide with them, but they don’t half startle you when they dart across the road or leap into the air the last minute. Fortunately your anticipation skills are a lot better than theirs – so keep them switched on!

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