Monday, April 19, 2010

Which is the bird that gets the worm again?

Scaled Quail

That's right the early bird of course!

I decided to use my day off Friday for a bit of a birding adventure. Coincidentally I had not yet taken my 4runner on any overnight trips, and wanted to test it out for sleeping before the camping season really sets in. So, on Thursday night I headed out after dinner and arrived at Karval State Wildlife Area just in time for bed.
Arriving after dark as I did I had a very limited view of the area, but I was fairly confident that I had the place to myself. I located the basic, but established camping area, pulled into the shelter of a hilltop (it was windy), made a quick stop at the outhouse and was back in the truck and pulling into my sleeping bag within 5 minutes of my arrival. It turned out I was just in time, minutes later, as I drifted off I was serenaded by the pitter-patter of arriving rain drops...
The next morning, after waking several times to the much heavier rain during the night, I woke and began my birding of the day listening to the songs of Western Meadowlarks from my sleeping bag. The few remaining sprinkles were not enough to silence their springtime singing. I propped up on an elbow to see what was in the area and found that I had three quail cutting through the camping area beside me. Rubbing the sleep from my eyes I dug out my camera and got a couple of shots through the windows before quietly pulling on boots and getting a couple more from outside and behind the vehicle. Unfortunately, the birds were not content to remain stationary for the longer exposure time needed, but the effect makes the male look like a speedster as he worked his way across the gravel and mud.
A life bird, before seven a.m., and within minutes of first opening my eyes!
The Scaled Quail is a game bird in Colorado, and the male is recognised by its white plume atop its head and the scaly appearance of its breast. The Northern Bobwhite has a white face, with a black eye-line, but no white plume.
I will have more from my trip to Lincoln County in coming posts, and hope to have return visits to explore more of this quiet county and its wildlife areas. Lincoln County offers some great short-grass prairie habitat just far enough from the Denver and Colorado Springs metro areas to have felt that you have really made a trip to the prairie.

2010 Count: 117
Lifetime: 213

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