Showing posts with label california quail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label california quail. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Evening quail, Point Reyes National Seashore

Quail glance - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Here is a series of images of our state bird, the California quail, taken at the Tomales Point Trailhead in Point Reyes National Seashore. As I mentioned in a previous post, the sun was just dropping below the horizon as I walked back to the parking lot and found this group of quail. Since the light was mostly gone, I upped the ISO to 1600, locked in the ballhead, and hoped for the best.

Ruffled California quail - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

I was quite pleased to have a few images come out pretty sharp under these conditions, especially with that nice warm evening light. It was great to hear him call as well, a sound I haven't heard since last summer. Unfortunately, the conditions just weren't great for a sharp shot of a bird in motion as it vocalized, so I was left with left with a bunch of disappointing images that lacked enough sharpness for my taste. Maybe next time!

Quail song - Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

More images of these beautifully marked birds are available in my Quail Gallery.

This post submitted to World Bird Wednesday -- follow the link to check out the great posts for this week!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Quail after sunset, Point Reyes National Seashore

Quail after sunset

I just love to watch and photograph California quail. Other than shorebirds, they are quite possibly my favorite subjects. The arrival of spring means that they become a bit less secretive, as the males like to perch on tall objects and call out to let the ladies know they are there. It's wonderful to be serenaded by their song as you walk through the coastal scrub. After taking a late afternoon hike out the Tomales Point Trail to find some elk with velvet antlers, I arrived back at the trailhead right as the sun was dropping below the horizon. Much to my delight, I was greeted by a group of around a dozen quail strolling along the far side of the parking lot. It was getting fairly dark already, so I upped the ISO to 1600 and hoped that the birds would stand fairly still. Thankfully, this male obliged as he stood on a lichen-covered fence post.

See more of the state bird of California in my Quail Gallery.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Quail on a Fence Post, Point Reyes National Seashore

Here's a quick break from the steady stream of elephant seals I've been posting lately. This is a handsome California quail perched on a fence post along Sir Francis Drake Boulevard in Point Reyes National Seashore.

Coy California quail -- Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

I find these birds to be so strikingly beautiful, with an amazing array of patterns on their body. They're quite common to find along the main road, and I took these shots out of an open car window. I have had success getting out of the car without spooking quail before, but I decided not to try my luck this time. I might have preferred a better backdrop than just the overcast sky, but at least it doesn't distract the eye from the details of their plumage.

Quail standing tall -- Pat Ulrich Wildlife Photography

Monday, December 13, 2010

Quail in the rain

Quail in the rain

A male California quail watching over his family group near the Bear Valley Visitor's Center in Point Reyes National Seashore. This is a fun time of year to see quail (although they weren't too keen to see me), since the family groups are really quite large. I would guess there were at least 25 birds in this flock that was scouring the grounds near the visitor's center parking lot. As soon as they saw me from across the road though, they disappeared into the shrubs. It was pretty amazing how easily they faded into the landscape that was just in front of me. This lone male was watching over the proceedings from a high perch (a fence post in this case), which I have often seen them do. Perhaps it is a trait of nobility evident in our state bird.

As for the shot, the conditions were clearly not ideal for photography, with heavily overcast skies and even some drizzle. I was happy to get at least this sharp frame out of the bunch though, since I'm a big fan of birds sitting on cool old fenceposts. I also love having some of the drizzle visible in the frame, although my camera may beg to differ. It's interesting to see how far a tiny raindrop can fall in 1/125 of a second!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Show me your best side -- California Quail edition

Three different compositions of the same bird in this post, a male California quail along the trail in Tennessee Valley. This is the same bird that I posted a vertical composition of previously, who quite generously gave me a few minutes on top of his bush before realizing that only a lousy photographer was paying attention to him, and he probably should pick a different bush to woo the ladies from.

This frame is perhaps "Quail Classic" with nice posture and that standing tall kind of attitude, surely a stunning find for a female.
Photograph of a prim and proper California quail in Marin County

But this shot I think is my favorite of the bunch -- a quail with attitude! You can almost see him giving me a Z-snap and making a snarky comeback.
Photograph of a California quail with attitude

And lastly perhaps his right side is his better side, which he kindly gave to me while working the camera as well.
Photograph of a California quail in Tennessee Valley, GGNRA

On a more serious note, a Flickr member commented on my previous post of this guy about how was I able to get such clean bokeh while shooting at only f/8. The secret to this shot is that this is on a portion of the trail that cuts along an elevated portion of the hillside in Tennessee Valley. The background is actually a separate hillside across the valley, which is probably a few hundred yards off.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Quail in a sea of gold, Point Reyes National Seashore

Photograph of a California quail set against a backdrop of golden wildflowers

Two more shots from my Weekend of the Quail in May of this year (previous posts from this weekend are here, here, and here). I saw this guy perched a little way off the trail and in front of a beautiful valley of golden wildflowers. This normally skittish species actually let me approach over what must have taken 10-15 minutes to get into the right position. Every now and then he would glance my way (see below), but was totally cool with my approach, and let me snap off a lot of frames with this awesome backdrop.

Photograph of a California quail set against wildflowers in Point Reyes National Seashore

Friday, July 30, 2010

Quail on the lookout

Tall and proud

The California quail, state bird of its namesake, is really quite beautiful with its varied plumage patterns. During much of the year it can be challenging to capture these birds out in the open. However, early in the breeding season (this shot is from mid-May) the males are much more willing to make a spectacle of themselves while hoping to draw the attention of a female. Unfortunately for this one who set up his lookout post along the trail, there was only a nosy photographer around.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Male Quail at Tomales Point

After a few weeks of traveling for a conference, a holiday in Europe, and visiting family, I'm back to the grind back at work and finally taking a few minutes to post a new image, with the goal of getting back to the regular pace of an image around every other day or so. In addition, I've increased the size of the blog page, since Flickr is now using a larger medium image size, and I like the increased detail of the 640 pixel image.

Quail at Tomales Point

This is a male California quail being as conspicuous as possible while trying to attract a mate (and perhaps a friendly photographer?). I took this shot on a weekend in May in which I was inundated in quail photography opportunities. This was actually among my goals for the trips I made to Point Reyes and Tennessee Valley, and I loved the many chances to photograph our striking state bird. This male is sitting on an old log near the Tomales Point Trailhead in Point Reyes National Seashore.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Quail on a post, with a personal note

Photograph of wild irises and sandstone bluffs in Point Reyes

On a trip to Point Reyes National Seashore in April, my wife agreed to wake up with me way before a reasonable hour on a Sunday so that we could be at Chimney Rock for the sunrise to enjoy what has been quoted as one of the best wildflower displays in the Bay Area. (Including the Douglas Irises kissed with the first rays of light shown above.) She’s so wonderfully supportive of my crazy photographic antics, and while she begrudgingly accepts the alarm going off before 4:30am on a weekend, she always enjoys our nature encounters as much as I do. However, she couldn’t help but chuckle at me when I told her that one of my goals for this trip was to capture a male California quail displaying on a pole.

Photograph of a male California quail on a fencepost in Point Reyes

I saw this bird doing exactly what I had envisioned as we were driving out of the park, but we were past it before I had time to stop. Being the ever helpful person that she is, she hopped in the driver’s seat, turned the car around, and took me back to the quail, who was still displaying proudly on his post beside the road. Unfortunately, there was no place to pull off of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard there, so I could only snap off a few shots before we had to move on due to some traffic coming up behind us. However, knowing that I wasn't yet satisfied with what I had, she happily made another set of u-turns so that we could go back for a second round of shots. And that, my friends, is a sign of true love! (This post is in commemoration of our first date, 9 incredible years ago today!)

Photograph of a quail looking over its shoulder