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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Curious Whitetail Bucks

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Posted by Shawn & Annette in Outdoors, Twain Harte News on July 20, 2011

Whitetail Buck

Whitetail Buck Image by funpics47

When we returned from our trip to Modesto on Tuesday, we used the upper driveway for the first time since it was paved, the ‘Beca was loaded down with people and camping gear.

We had been shopping for a mess kit and tent, since 0ur son and his friend will be doing a three day camping trip with other young men from the Twain Harte Chapel in the Pines — and they are very excited.

Just moments after the ‘Beca came to a stop, I pushed my door open, arms loaded, headed for the house and just about ran smack dab into a huge buck, standing stately near the edge of the driveway, I am sure he was wondering if I was going to stop. All I could think was, “darn, darn, darn, here is this magnificient buck standing just feet in front of me and me without a camera!” He stood tall and proud, his rack was large, at least 10, maybe 12 or even 14 points.  I was too numb to think, move, speak and especially…count.

Much to my surprise standing not two feet behind him was yet another buck. This one was much younger than the first. Both bucks stood motionless for the longest time. Have you ever sat and watched deer? They can stay still for an amazingly long period of time.  I headed for the house and when I turned around to get one last look before opening the door, they had vanished.

For the past several weeks all I’ve seen in the yard are does. We have two that visit regularly — since we haven’t mowed the weeds in our yard. (Don’t judge, it’s a BIG yard!) The deer love the vegetation and I’m happy to let them have it — I just wish they would eat more of it. Faster.

Put it this way, we could have a mountain lion living in the front yard and no one would ever know.  We have some pretty dense vegetation out there. I keep hoping some industrious young man will show up and offer to mow the grass and clean up the yard for me, but so far that hasn’t happened. I asked for a quote from some men who were working nearby but they wanted $800 to clean it up. Wow! It’s not that bad and for that price the mountain lions can stay.

I’m keeping my eyes open for those bucks to return but it could be at least a month before they make their way back here again. They seem to operate on a cycle and I believe they only came down the mountain because our temperatures have been cooler than usual. I expect them to wander back up to the high country once the summer heat hits us again.

Lily Mae update

Lily Mae gave me quite a scare yesterday. Try as I may, I could not get her to eat or drink anything (not that she is eating yet), nor was she using the litter box. This morning was another story. She had three small meals this morning and afternoon. She actually stayed awake for several hours this morning.

She is resting now and appears to be healthy and happy. I will be happy when she starts eating regular food. It’s been 14 years since I had to warm bottles and mix formula. I forgot just how much work it can be.

Take it slow folks and watch for the wildlife. If we don’t protect them, then who will?

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