January 23, 2017
A Quail Tale
- as seen by -Michael Pawlik
In May of 2015, I spent a month volunteering at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California. Every day I would get up at the crack of dawn and bike through the Marin Headlands on my way to work. The morning was always cold as the fog rolled through the valley, but by midday the hills would come alive with all manner of critters looking to catch the sun. Every so often I’d see a bobcat running the trail, but only for a second, and usually from a distance. I tried for a photograph a number of times, but I always came up empty-handed. Fortunately, the valley was teeming with life, so I set my sights on something a little less ambitious – a California quail.
Charming and dapper, but less ambitious? Hardly! These birds are quick, agile, and unbelievably quiet. Not to mention timid. And there was no shortage of brush in the area. I sat next to a clearing and hoped for the best, but I soon learned that quails were clever. I went back to the brush and tried again. It wasn’t long before I happened upon one, but tracking its movements without scaring it off was a challenge in and of itself. Even if I managed to keep up, I still had to find an angle that provided a clear line of sight. It didn’t take long for the bird to slip past me unseen. Or so I thought. Perhaps it found refuge deep in the undergrowth. I decided to wait it out.
Twenty minutes went by before the quail popped its little head out of the top of a nearby bush, no doubt checking to see if I was really that obstinate. Whatever the case may be, in the end, I got what I came for.
Nikon D7100, Nikkor 18-140 mm Lens