Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Quail and rattlesnake grass, Point Reyes National Seashore

When I was out in Point Reyes National Seashore last weekend, I wasn't seeing very much as I drove through the park. I started out by heading towards the outer peninsula, and I stopped by Drake's Beach, South Beach, and the Estero Trailhead while seeing very little. So I decided to take a drive up to Tomales Point, since I wanted to end up along the Abbott's Lagoon trail for sunset. After reaching Pierce Point Ranch without seeing a single quail or elk, I stopped at the McClure's Beach to eat my PB&J for dinner. As I sat there, I enjoyed my sandwich and was listening to the Giants pregame on KNBR. After I finished my meal and was going to stop at the restroom before leaving, I noticed this handsome quail sitting right in front of the car on a fence railing. Perhaps he was drawn to the melodic cadence of Jon Miller's voice on the radio?

Quail and rattlesnake grass - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Such a pleasant surprise to show up after I had resigned to a non-photographic outing for the evening. I spent the next 15 minutes shooting this quail first out of my open window, then with the door open (to get slightly closer), then from my tripod set up next to my car door.

Quail against the grass - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

I moved slowly between positions, and while I think he knew I was there, he was fairly indifferent. He was however, quite interested in his lady-friend, who spent most of the time in the tall grass behind the fence. Every now and then though he would get noticeably excited (quick, agitated movements, fluffed feathers) and then she would appear out in the open. Eventually, she had enough of the area and wandered off up the hill -- and he was quick to follow!

Quail along the fence at sunset - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

I was excited to be surprised by this handsome quail set against those lovely grasses backlit by the setting sun in the background. For those of you that are curious, the pods are rattlesnake grass (easy to see where it gets its name, no?), which is an invasive species in California.

Quail in the rattlesnake grass - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

More images from this area of the park in my Tomales Point Gallery.


  1. Wonderful shots, Pat. This fellow is very expressive isn't he? Rattlesnake grass looks quite interesting. Can you hear it rattle in the breeze?
    Anonymous aka Carol Blackburn

  2. What a lovely bird!

  3. Perfect pictures of this magnificent bird ! I love it !


  4. Gorgeous shots, Pat! Love the color, the detail, the expression...!

  5. Such beautiful pheasant images. Such a color bird. Carol

  6. Hi there - I've seen a few shots these birds before - is it a California Quail?

    Cheers Stewart M - Australia

  7. Thanks, Carol! I don't believe that it rattles in the breeze, but it sure looks like it should!

    Thanks, Adventures!

    Thanks, Jean-Michel!

    Thanks, Hilke!

    Thanks, Carol!

    Thanks, Stewart! It is indeed a California quail (Callipepla californica).

  8. Great photos of the Quail. It has a most beautiful pattern of plumage.

  9. Fantastic shots of the Quail. It is a gorgeous bird.

  10. What a wonderful bird and great photos ! Fantastic !

  11. The grass was the first thing I noticed :-)
    In spite of that photogenic bird that you simply do not manage to take anything other than a brilliant photo of.
    I'm more of a plants' person. Mind you, if it is Briza maxima, I prefer our UK name of Quaking grass :-)
    Rattlers scare me silly, ever since we had them all over the garden in the tall grass.

  12. I know what you're saying Pat. A male quail on a rail or post can save the day.

  13. What a unique and beautifull bird, great images ;)