Quailsong at Dusk

Despite blustery weather, we got Quail on the list on the Newbury District Ornithological Club walk, just as dusk fell last night.

full moon on the rise - photo by Jason P Ball

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

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