Those of you who have tried to show other birdwatchers any of the chicken-like birds - quail, grouse, and their kin - know that it's not easy to predict whether you'll actually see them even though you go to places where you have seen them before. They seem to have a mind of their own. Those like the prairie chickens use a lek which makes the process of seeing them easier. But for the others it can be kind of a crap shoot. The reason Gray Partridge is the last of the regular ABA species for me this year is that I just haven't been in any of their prime habitat. In fact if you examine where I've been and where I haven't been, you'll see that those places where I've spent no time outline almost exactly the range of this partridge. That was a consequence of my plan of getting the midwest breeders on their wintering grounds since I wanted to spend a big chunck of their breeding season in Alaska. I knew that the winter is a fine time to see Gray Partridge; snow makes the process easier plus they tend to be in coveys then. So I came to Spokane out of California because the partridge is there and because Southwest Airlines flies there. I had gotten some helpful information from Allan McCoy and Jon Isakoff as to where I might find the birds in the Spokane area. Jon, in fact, had outlined a route I was to follow. After arising to a downpour, I had breakfast at my motel, a Ramada right across from the airport. The skies were very dark as I headed west, but at least the rain had stopped. The wind was whipping the car around a bit, but I found the first set of roads I had been advised to try. I completed that loop with no partridges, but the Horned Larks were abundant along the snow-packed roads. A few ravens, magpies, and red-tails were checking out the roads as well. I turned south out of Davenport WA and started the second, longer loop. There was more snow here. I checked the bushes along a creek where three pheasants were drinking, but not in the company of partridges. After a series of right-angle turns, I was stopped dead in my tire tracks. In front of me on the road was a covey of ten Gray Partridges. They were between me and the sun, so my first photos were a little too backlit. However, the covey took off, flew over the car, and landed on the road behind me. I turned the car around and got the upper photo (photo). They didn't stay there long, choosing instead to fly up the hill, alighting on the snow (photo) where they picked at the ground and acted as if they were feeding. I gave myself a high five and headed back to town where I checked out the flights out of Spokane. A Black-vented Oriole was seen yesterday in the Rio Grande Valley, so I made reservations to go there tomorrow. I had no sooner completed those changes when NARBA posted a report that a group of twenty or so birders had not been able to re-find the oriole this morning. Before I make any other changes, I'll wait and see what the rest of the day brings. It's been a good day. Will Gray Partridge be the last bird of the year?