Mountain Quail

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Posted by Annie in Outdoors on July 23, 2012

Mountain Quail (male) Oreortyx pictus, offset ...

Image via Wikipedia

Maybe you’ve noticed? The mountain quail are making their way down the mountain. I was just thinking about them the other day and wondering when I’d see them again.

You have to be very quiet and very patient if you’re going to catch a glimpse of these elusive birds. The slightest move or noise is enough to spook them and off they scurry.  They stay pretty low to the ground but will come right up to your house, if nothing disturbs them.

Here is a link where you will find more information about mountain quail.

Be sure to send me a picture if you are able to get one. They are such beautiful birds. I hope they come back.

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Mountain Quail Return

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Posted by Shawn & Annette in Outdoors on August 11, 2011

Mountain Quail (male) Oreortyx pictus, offset ...

Image via Wikipedia

My sister and I were talking about the birds, she thanked me for sharing my hummingbird “recipe”. I couldn’t believe that people actually buy that junk they sell in the store. Okay, I confess, I bought it ONCE, too, but then I learned the secret and I’ve been making my own hummingbird food ever since.

I was telling her about the Mountain Quail and mentioned that I haven’t seen them for a couple of months now. They normally come down the mountain late evenings, right about dusk. I’ve never seen just one mountain quail, they come down a dozen or so in a flock, I’ve seen as many as 20 at a time. I was so pleased to walk outside to find a flock of Mountain Quail in my yard. They are such nervous birds that whenever I head outside, they run off.

I think I’ll try to get up early tomorrow and open the blinds, maybe I’ll get to watch them for a bit. It gives me great pleasure to sit and watch the habits of all my bird friends. I have one little bird about the size of a grosbeck, maybe a tad smaller, I love to watch as he walks around the yard, using his little feet to kick up the leaves and pine needles. The bird will do that for hours at a time. Maybe he’s looking for bugs?

The little Nuthatch is another one I love to sit and watch, the noisy little birds can be seen for long periods pecking on the side of trees.

White-breasted Nuthatch

Nuthatches are active, agile little birds with an appetite for insects and large, meaty seeds. They get their common name from their habit of jamming large nuts and acorns into tree bark, then whacking them with their sharp bill to “hatch” out the seed from the inside. White-breasted Nuthatches may be small but their voices are loud, and often their insistent nasal yammering will lead you right to them.

I have been slowly trying to educate myself and the family about birds and the wildlife in and surrounding Twain Harte. If you are interested in birds and not all that experienced, you may find this article helpful: Top 10 Ways to Get Better at Bird Identification. I am finding that watching the birds helps me to relax more and keeps me from thinking about all the noise pollution.

Just this morning, I woke up to one of my more thoughtful neighbors hammering away on something — AT 7:00 A.M. — come on now. Even though fireworks and whatnot are illegal, we still have nuts setting off firecrackers in the parking lot of the Twain Harte Market. Not a smart thing to do. It doesn’t take much of a spark to start a fire in these parts, especially this time of year.

We made a trip through Twain Harte last night to make a Post Office run and I couldn’t believe how many people were downtown. The Rock had an overflow crowd hanging out on the balcony, and most of the other restaurants appeared to be just as busy. It was a Wednesday evening, I can’t imagine what could have drawn so many people to town.

I don’t have any official numbers to post, but I can tell you that judging from my own experience there appears to be many more summer vacationers this year, but my perception could be tainted since we moved in January and I’m not as familiar with this side of town.

Do you think we have more, less or about the same number of people vacationing in the Twain Harte area this year? Tell me what you think.

 

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Weather Minded

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Posted by Shawn & Annette in Outdoors, Twain Harte News on March 27, 2011

It’s been a rather uneventful few days. Yesterday, I was going stir crazy. I had called for a snow plow on Friday — my back decided it could no longer put up with all the abuse I was dishing out and decided to wage a protest.

Well, we had so much snow on the ground that the snow plow drivers were all being kept overly busy. Everyone is tired almost to the point of exhaustion. Dealing with the snow is one thing but when you not only have all that snow to deal with, but power outages, some are without water, others are worried about losing their food. It can be a very stressful time.

The plow truck finally showed up – the next day, but only plowed the portion of my drive that I had already shoveled. The part I really needed cleared is still there. I’m trying to be understanding about it but I’m pretty irritated. Mainly out of frustration, because I am unable to clear it out myself.

We tried to purchase a snow-blower in Sonora last week but the store clerks only have lawnmowers and leaf blowers to sell. Though with all this rain, I believe we will have need of them soon enough – we are going to have more grass to mow than ever before. Has anyone else given thought to the mosquitoes? The last few years have been overly dry ones (if you don’t count last year) but the added moisture will make this area more attractive to insects that may have moved on because of the dryer conditions. Bats might prove to be an ideal solution to the anticipated influx of mosquitoes.

I may have forgotten to mention it has been raining non-stop for the past 24-hours and then some. The constant rain makes it difficult to keep the birds fed. With all this snow and rain, it’s hard to know how and where to feed the little dears. I can’t wait to get up in the morning early to hear their fresh joyful chirps. It makes me want to sing but I must be quiet or risk frightening them away. They don’t seem to care for my bird feeders. Sigh.

I had to laugh last night. I have been feeding the birds on the deck under the eaves and leaving the shades up, in order to watch the birds eat. My son called to me at dusk, “We’ve got quail.”

Well, for some reason these Mountain Quail just give me a thrill each time they come. They almost always come right at dusk and in a large group of 10 to 20 birds (possibly more). The Quail are nervous little creatures. They will march down the hill a few at a time, and gather to eat together in a group.

I had put out plenty of food on the deck, right in front of the sliding glass door, which we rarely open. There were a dozen birds congregated there. I was kicking myself for leaving the camera on the table by the door but if I made a move to pick it up, the birds would get spooked and fly off. So, I stood there watching them.

In the meantime, Sandy, our cat, was talking up a storm, she wanted my attention and just wouldn’t be quiet. Then she suddenly figured out what was distracting me — keeping me from paying proper attention to her: The quail. Purposely, she strolled toward the glass door, stopping directly in front of the flock of quail — the birds flew away in unison. It was an incredible sight like you see in the movies and my cat was very proud of herself.

She finally had my attention, which is what she wanted in the first place.

As for today’s weather report…

It’s very wet out there but the rain has stopped for now. The sky is overcast, visibility is poor. The temperature is currently steady at 37 and could reach the low 40s but I wouldn’t hold my breath. The birds are making a huge racket outside. I could sit and listen to them all day. My husband won’t like it but I’ve been trying to draw in a few woodpeckers and an owl or two. They are such beautiful animals. I can’t help but admire them.

Do you think an owl would carry my cat off? I suppose it’s possible …

I’m headed back outside to watch and listen. Maybe I’ll even dig out my binoculars. Oh, the possibilities.

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