Cute as they are California Quail just won't co-operate for my camera. But the tribe of them that lives in our field are a continuing fascination. This summer there are four or five adults and about 15 chicks. I often come across them, sometimes gathered around a tree or moving through the grass like a school of fish.
These birds were bought here from the United States many years ago, and like many of our plants and flowers found Central Otago just like their California homeland and they have flourished.
It's really hard to see and hard to get a distinct photo of them. But there is always a leader that takes responsibility. It gets up on a vantage point and supervises the group and leads them away from danger.
|See several chicks here. ? Try looking up from and left of center.|
|See some more ? Try center and left of center. An adult too.|
The leader likes to keep the chicks away from the car. It's a threat to them, just like it is to children. I did get this lucky photo from the car window right at the front gate as the leader supervised them.
|Supervision from a height. The control tower.|
Once I encountered the group on the driveway so I abruptly stopped the car. A good vantage point. One by one the chicks gathered up courage and darted across in front of me to rejoin the adults. A clear count. Fifteen.
|A fancy plume for the boss Quail|
Another time returning from town on the driveway near the house I scattered the whole group. Next thing I noticed the boss bird perched on "Angus" - our steel rabbit. "Angus" is a good vantage point from which to call the group together. And from which the bird was able to keep a very good eye on me and make sure I was not going to interfere.
|"I can see you human. I am watching you."|
|"You chicks get over here. We are moving away from this human."|
And off they went.