Gathan Beaga

covey

They scattered away, into the deadfall, topknots bobbing. Bella on my shoulders, I whispering to her and she knowing to be quiet anyway. She’s done this sort of thing before.

We crept up to the edge of the fallen branches and crouched quietly. And waited. It’s another hot day, even more humid than yesterday, and the sun is intense.

We were rewarded with the occasional chirrup from somewhere inside, and then, some hens climbing out to have a look around, followed by a handsome cock-bird. Their chicks are almost fully grown now, here at the tail end of summer, and it’s hard to tell who’s who. But the males are very distinctive with their black face and white stripe, and large topknots.

They don’t immediately see us, and we watch them for a couple minutes from less than 10 metres away. But then they tumbled to us, gave a couple of alarm calls, and the covey took flight, all 30-odd, into the neighbour’s place.

They are beautiful little birds, the California Quail, and we continue to hear their calls, like something from Tarzan, all throughout the afternoon.

There’s a lot of that sort of thing here. Bella is still excited about the little fish that nibbled at her feet yesterday at the beach (“my fishy friends”); we have a dessert plate full of her cicada shells on the kitchen bench (somewhat disturbing for her grandmother); and two of her insect “friends” liberated inside that we can no longer find.

But she’s not the only one to get excited. It’s a warm still night here now, and just before, in between the calls of the Morepork in the bush behind the house, we think we heard a kiwi. Unlikely, but nevertheless we are all sitting here waiting for it again…

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