Saturday, February 11, 2006

Gambel's quail; red-tail hawk update

Digital Photography 101 (That's what this blog was originally about, remember? -- my struggles learning the complexities of digital photography with an SLR.) Thanks to Beth (Firefly Forest) for recommending my new lens: Canon 100 mm f/2.8 macro. It's still a technology stretch for me. I'm struggling with the terminology in the manual, but I intend to figure it out. One day I'll get the 300 mm lens that Cindy (Woodsong) recommended. Thanks for that dream, Cindy!

Gambel's quail - our regular twice-daily visitors
This morning our usual parade of Gambel's quail came foraging through our back yard. I didn't want to disturb them by sliding the door open, but I grabbed the camera (with my new lens) and took a photo through the glass. They were pretty far away, but a little cropping with Paint Shop Pro helped define this pair. Certainly not something I could have accomplished with the shorter focal length Canon Rebel XT Kit lens.

Yet again we desert dwellers have a concern with the lengthy drought:
Although the Gambel's Quail is adapted to living in a dry, desert environment, it reproduces best in years with adequate rainfall. (Cornell Lab of Ornithology).
We always look forward to welcoming the quail families who come through our yard with their tiny little ones running behind the mother. Gambel's quail are monogamous. They can produce as many as 12 eggs in a clutch. When they come to visit, the father flies up on the fence first and scouts out the territory. Then we hear his distinct call as he signals his family that it's safe to scurry under the fence. When they're ready to leave, he signals again to indicate that all's clear.

Red-tailed hawks observed mating
An update on the red-tailed hawks that are nesting across the street. A few mornings ago, I was watching the female as she sat on the branch next to the nest. Suddenly the male flew in and landed on her back. After a few seconds of mating activity, the male hopped onto the branch next to the female and they preened for several minutes like lovebirds. No camera that morning, but the binoculars served me well.

I've found another viewpoint where I can see the hawks more clearly. The disadvantage is that it's in the middle of the road.


Rexroth's Daughter said...

You're going to get some great photographs when that nest is full of little ones. Be careful. Hope it's not a busy road. Love the quail photographs, too. We have the California quail here. They are delightful to watch, as they gather as a family for a meal in our yard.

Pam in Tucson said...

R.D. - I hope I can get some shots of the nest this year. In past years, it's been hidden and I've never seen the wee ones, but this year with the dryness there might not be as much foliage in the eucalyptus.