A ptarmigan is a bigger partridge
(Though hunters use the same size cartridge)
A little larger than a grouse,
Substantially smaller than a house.
Its fate is often Christmas fare –
It tastes a little like a hare.
Ptarmigans come with a silent ‘P’,
Like toddlers swimming in the sea.
The Ptarmigan is classed as a ‘game bird’ e.g. it has obviously been placed on earth with the simple function of giving the ruling classes something to point their guns at when they’re not starting wars. It is the ultimate arrogance of man that everything else on this planet has been placed here solely for our benefit and such things that clearly do not fit this criteria, probably need to be eradicated. Weirdly, the creatures we protect the best are those that we eat.
N.B. the bird was originally known by its Gaelic name ‘Tàrmachan’ until a man called Robert Sibbald (Psibbald?) thought that it would look far more classy if it appeared to have a genus name of Greek origin, so he stuck a silent ‘p’ at the front. I’ve always been intrigued by silent letters. How did they get there? I know (that is, I have been told, and I am trusting enough to believe) that some of them were originally pronounced – e.g. both the ‘k’ and the ‘g’ in the word ‘knight’ were originally spoken – but I cannot begin to imagine how ‘igh’ ended up in so many words. Some kind of lexicographical aberration. I’m sure the Greeks would have a word for it…