Humans are Weird - Watching
Commander Pulp lifted himself upright on his hind legs and let his gaze wander over the recreational area that and been built into the forest. Most of the day shift had eaten over an hour ago and the only sapient being currently out in the fresh air was Grimes. With a contented grunt Commander Pulp dropped to all fours and trotted along the path that would lead him to where he had seen the human sitting on a lichen covered boulder. Of course the boulder itself would be much too cold for a proper lunch spot, and Commander Pulp didn’t think that their relationship was quite advanced to the point where he could just casually request a seat on the human’s lap, even if the boulder had provided a correct lap angle to take advantage of the mammal’s warmth, but not too far from the boulder was a fallen tree trunk that had been collecting solar radiation for some time. It would warm his belly nicely as he ate.
Grimes nodded his head towards Commander Pulp and gave a vague grunt of greeting. Slightly disappointing at the lack of real communication but accepting his friend’s preoccupation with his own meal, a mix of leafy greens, proteins, and oils that probably did require some concentration to get into the tiny human mouth, Commander Pulp returned the grunt and took his place on the stump. It was not only pleasantly warm, but it off gassed a delightful bouquet of plants growing, plants dying, and lichens quietly existing. The lizard pulled his loaf of steaming bread out of his satchel and sunk his teeth into it with a rumble of pleasure.
It was a good loaf. The grains produced on this world were excellent, only the homeworld grains produced better bread and even the old rock-scales at the home-mills admitted that that might just be psychological at this point. Commander Pulp rolled it between his grinding molars and let his eyes close with delight. When he opened them he happened to glance at Grimes and was surprised to see that the human had raised his datapad to his eyes and was clearly using the camera function to examine something distant. Commander Pulp continued chewing but watched Grimes with growing interest as the human focused in on one of the flighted species of the world, a common enough avian, egg laying, too small to be useful as prey items for the humans or to pose a threat to any visiting Winged. They did aid the lizard folk by stripping granivorous insects from the fields. Grimes considered the little avian until he had matched its species exactly and then set his datapad down with a satisfied smile and took a bite from his meal.
Commander Pulp slowed his own chewing and watched Grimes more intently. That bite had been almost absent minded. The human had dropped several leafs from his eating utensil and as soon as the majority of the mass was in his mouth the human had turned his attention, down to a physical notebook by his side, made an entry, then turned his eyes back to the canopy overhead, clearly looking for another avian, and just as clearly not in any rush. Commander Pulp swallowed his first bite and cleared his throat for attention.
Grimes glanced at him and smiled as he chewed his fibrous meal. Commander Pulp waited until the human swallowed before asking the question that was on his mind.
“Grimes,” he said carefully attempting to modulate his voice into what a human would consider a non-judgmental tone. “Are you attempting to preform a scientific survey while you are eating your lunch?”
Grimes’s face actually contorted in confusion and then surprise as he shook his head.
“No!” Grimes responded. “I am on strict rest orders.”
“So I thought,” Commander Pulp agreed. “So what are you doing?”
“This?” the human asked waving his hand over the datapad and the notebook. “Just bird watching. It’s my hobby. I have documentation…”
“That won’t be necessary,” Commander Pulp said with a dismissive flick of his tail, relaxing a bit but still perplexed. “Is there some time constraint that has forced you to combine these two activities?”
Grimes blinked at him and tilted his head to the side. The humans face wrinkled like the surface of a fermenting vat as he pondered the question.
“No,” the human finally said. “I just like doing them together.”
Commander Pulp flicked his tongue out thoughtfully.
“Doesn’t the attention required to identify the avian species interfere with the enjoyment of your meal?” he asked gesturing at the mass of greens and oil with his tail.
“No,” Grimes said shaking his head. “It’s just a salad anyway, and besides, bird watching is an all the time thing. You never know when you are going to see something interesting so you have to be ready. I can’t give them that much attention when I am working so I’ve been having a great time with it in this forced rest time.”
“How do you report your observations?” Commander Pulp asked as he mulled that over.
Grimes tapped the notebook beside him but gave a shrug of his shoulder that indicated that the answer was not going to be particularly useful.
“It’s just a hobby,” he said. “I never really got into reporting what I saw. I just like spotting the birds and knowing what they were.”
“And this gives you enough pleasure that you will preferentially watch the birds rather than get the full gastronomic value out of your meal?” Commander Pulp asked.
Grimes flashed all of his teeth at him in a grin.
“Pretty much,” the human agreed taking another absent bite of his salad and then snatching up his datapad to focus in on a small flitting form in a tree on the other side of the clearing.
Commander Pulp shrugged and took another bite of his bread. That was the way humans fermented he supposed, but he thought he would look deeper into this hobby of bird watching, and how ubiquitous it really was among humans. He was beginning to suspect that Grimes’s behavior might not be strictly indicative of the species in general