Despite blustery weather, we got Quail on the list on the Newbury District Ornithological Club walk, just as dusk fell last night.
And we deserved it. Chilled at the top of a remote hill on the Oxfordshire-Berkshire border, we had waited a long time to hear this illusive summer visitor as the finale to our birding. We’d seen and heard a good range of common birds in the woods earlier, and a pair of Tufted Duck at the ponds.
I’d heard two Quail up here last week. So why nothing now? After the Skylark cluster on the slope, only a Corn Bunting’s jingle joined us on the hilltop (most of us didn’t even see that!) and a cold breeze danced with the wheat crop as we watched and listened. Nothing still.
Suddenly a badger ran out of the cereal and right past us, only a metre from the group!
Soon after that we turned back and headed for the warmth of the cars. But on the way down the hill, the popping call of a Quail met us through the wind’s white noise, and we stopped to welcome it. Then it was back to the Eco Conference Centre – enjoying a cup of tea to the music of bats playing on the magenta.
copyright © 2008 Jason P Ball