rotating banner

Friday, June 1, 2012

#52: California Quail - Cabrillo National Monument, CA

Before I went to San Diego, I read as many birding reports as I could find, and they all seemed to say the same thing: California Quails are nearly impossible to miss. So I found it surprising that in the days before James headed out west, I saw neither plume nor feather of these spectacular little fowl. So I began to get desperate.

The day after James arrived, I showed him Cabrillo National Monument, a place that had been productive for me in the past and was rumored to be crawling with coveys of quails. Every time we heard a rustle in the bushes, James yelled out “Quail!” – sometimes in jest, but mostly in hope. After several hours of perusing every minute sound, all I’d managed were several California Towhees, a couple California Thrashers, and a Bewick’s Wren. So when James yelled out “Quail!” once again, I didn’t expect anything different. That’s when a little ball of feathers ran past at a quail’s pace.

There were about five in all, a couple females and a male – a perfect covey of California Quail. But, preferring to hide in the impossibly dense chaparral that surrounded Cabrillo, none of those birds became the quail you see in the picture below. Instead, the three of us, joined by our non-birding brother, decided to drive down to the nearby tide pools. “Tom,” we warned him. “If we see any quail, you have to pull over. Like, immediately.” As we drove down the switchback turns to the rocky shoreline, James looked out one side of the car, and I looked out the other. With his seemingly superhuman eyes, James was the one to call out, for the nth time that day – “Quail!”

I'm glad there's still a part of the country where quail are common - I'm lookin' at you, Bobwhite!

A second covey, this time perched on top of some thorny bramble, with the male wailing out that unrefined call of theirs. James leapt out of this and snapped this shot of him before they went diving down into the undergrowth. I ended up seeing eleven quail that overcast day at Cabrillo, but for whatever reason, I’d only see one more during my time in San Diego – a single male, back-lit and calling in the morning sun. I guess they’re not as common as they’re supposed to be. Or maybe I just lack the quailifications to find them.

No comments:

Post a Comment