GOD WITS AND OTHER BIRDS 33
tains, or a twenty-mile trudge, is but childa s play? Pick out men who show bodily activity and endurance. Pluck, all Britons and Irish possess: but more is wanted. Put all men useless for such work on half-pay; they are no use as leaders of men, and the only use of officers is to lead the way, and how can they do that if they are not physically fit by constant exercise ? and where can that be obtained so well as in following wild field sports ? Moreover, a man accustomed to meet the denizens of the forest has his wits about him, or he is snuffed out. He will exercise all the cunning he has learned in wood-craft to outwit not only the beasts of the field, but the enemies of his country.1 All the cramming he has learned under the present system is not worth a yeara s experience of sport, followed up by a six monthsa campaign. Our officers and men have shown pluck, but the enemy opposed to us are just as plucky and have out-fought and outwitted us, solely because they were physically more fit than ourselves.
Godwits are seldom seen. Only one of the Curlews is fit for the table, in my opinion; but some people like the Raj Curlew, a large black bird. Of the Cranes, the Coolin or Kurruk, though plentiful in India, is very rare in Lower Burma; there are two or three kinds of Bittern, one very small, but they are seldom shot As for the Waders, Storks, etc., their name is legion.
Of all the small game shooting in the lower province, Duck-shooting is the poorest. Notwithstanding that the country is greatly inundated during the monsoon and from the flooding of the rivers, it dries up about the time the annual migration of the duck tribe takes place. There are no large bheels or tanks during the cold season, so the ducks pass over to India where there are suitable places for them, and where they swarm; but a very few only remain in Pegu. During September I have seen a good many of the Comb Duck, which often, like the Whistling Teal and also the small Blue-winged Teal (commonly called Cotton Teal), perch on trees, but they are not thought much of for the table. There are also a few
1 Vide the Boers, who are born sportsmen, and they have outwitted us as they have been in the habit of doing the ferce naturce of their country.