Monday, July 20, 2009

Early one morning

I'm going to preface this entry by mentioning that we appeared to be having a yellow-jacket free summer. That is, until my husband decided to bait the yellow-jacket trap. Now they are attracted to it, but apparently unable to actually get into it, and last night for the first time we were unable to eat dinner outside because they were so ferocious. I am not pleased.

A more charming addition to our back deck is the large family of quail that now feel comfortable coming to eat crumbs and seeds we leave on the fence railing for them. Quail have to be the most adorable birds in existence. Their plump little bodies, their cute little beeping noises and charming call, their odd little flutter as the jump on and off the fence, the way the adults always keep guard while the babies forage. California quail are especially handsome, to my way of thinking, and I love watching them. There are also some scrub jays who seem to take a proprietary view of the fence, but the quail aren't scared of them, and it's especially fun to watch them negotiating boundaries along the fence.

So this morning, there they were, quails and jays, eating and chirping and fluttering around. Suddenly there was a big commotion and a smallish hawk swooped quite low over the quail, easily coming within six inches of the fence where they were feeding. They disappeared into the bushes beyond the fence, and the hawk, having failed to snatch one, perched on a nearby fence post. The quail expressed their alarm in loud and agitated peeeps from the bushes as the hawk shook out his feathers and scratched his leg. A yellow-jacked flew around his head, but he took no notice. A pair of swallows circled his vicinity, but he didn't really care. He kept his eyes on the bushes where the quail who continued voicing their distress in no uncertain terms.

I saw a pair of hummingbirds make an almost vertical rise into the air, flying beak to beak. I don't know if they were courting or contesting territory. I've never seen them do that before. Eventually they perched in the branches of a young oak sapling, along with some finches. The quail were gradually growing quieter. The hawk was still sitting on the fence. He switched his attention to a mockingbird in the next yard over. Finally I decided that I really should be watching with my binoculars, so I went into the next room and got them. And of course when I got back, there was nary a bird to be seen. No hawk, no finches, no hummingbirds, nothing. Only a lone yellowjacket, circling the trap and looking frustrated. That trap has got to go.



Blogger Vivian said...

We saw a family of quails out side the hotel room window last weekend when we stayed by the Tamales Bay. They are very cute.

11:10 AM  

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