Friday, July 22, 2011

Paging Dr. Dolittle...

Over on the Quail Forever  website I recently blogged about watering my yard during a drought. In short, we're up to our ears in wildlife. Not surprising, considering our backyard is (to put it mildly) of the non-manicured variety (mostly weeds, in fact) and is as wildlife-friendly as I can make it.

But what's really bringing them in is the water. Earlier this year, right before this insane drought/heat wave really cranked up, we had a small sprinkler system installed around our yard and garden. We did it not because we're interested in having a trophy lawn (we're not) but because it's literally the only way to keep any vegetation alive in our sandy soil. I hadn't planned on it becoming an oasis for drought-stricken wildlife, but that's exactly what it's turned into. Between that and the "water garden" (i.e. the bait tank) our little acre or so of greenery is fast becoming like those mid-summer water holes you see on the African documentaries...

I can now say I've finally found a good use for watering the yard. We've had more quail whistling around the house year than we've ever had...

Deer? We've had more than we can count. We've got does with one fawn...

We've got does with two fawns...(eating flowers)

We've got a tom who has, quite literally, moved in with us. He hangs out in the back yard all day long, sleeping in our flowerbed...

And when he gets up to scratch around the bird feeder, there's always a doe hanging around to steal his spot...

Bugger off, birdbrain. This is my bed now...

And we have several regular hens who come in on a daily basis, but a few days ago we had one bring in the family (or what's left of it thanks to the neighborhood feral cats, coons and skunks...)

There were actually three chicken-sized poults tagging along, but I couldn't get them all in frame because not only are the animal enjoying the greenery, the 'hoppers are, too, and these guys were buggin' all over the yard.

I can't really tell how the various hatches have gone off this year. I've seen several groups of poults around the neighborhood this size, as well as several about twice as large, so at least for the turkeys it looks like a decent year, anyway. Not like we really needed any more turkeys...

What we need are quail, and as for Mr. Bob, the jury's still out, I think. I haven't seen any chicks in the yard, although I do have several hens and/or pairs hanging around, and we saw a hen riding herd on a group of chicks on the way to the lake last week. Guess we'll find out in November, if it ever gets here...

In addition, we're plum covered up in leopard frogs eating grasshoppers, ribbon snakes eating leopard frogs and coons eating ribbon snakes and whatever else they can stuff down their throats. We've got sharpies and Cooper's picking off songbirds, cottontails trying to pick off my garden, short-eared owls picking off the rabbits and the turkey vultures getting the last word on everyone. Nothing like epic drought to make things chummy. It's a regular chain 'o life in our back yard this summer. The Disney crowd would be enthralled. Or horrified

In fact, I half expect to wake up some morning and have a pair of mallards swimming around the water garden. And if we don't get any rain - and soon -  it may end up being my go-to duck hunting spot this year...


  1. Just found your blog and glad I did. Great pics. Makes looking out the window a regular task filled with excitement.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Passinthru Outdoors Blog - Sharing the Passion

  2. The pressure is on. There is a small group of mule deer that have taken up residence in our common ground behind my house. I've been doing a few things to encourage them to take their afternoon nap in my yard instead of the house three doors down, but so far I've not had any success. Now I have a motivator. Perhaps I should re-landscape?!

    I love the photo with the turkey and deer in the background.

    Have you given any additional thought to coming out to CO for the grouse opener, September 1st. I've everything planned. Hope you can make it!

  3. Pretty neat. Sad it has to come with the drought.

  4. Oh, the torture! I have some wild neighbors, but nothing quite like that.

  5. Man! Makes it that much harder to wait for a move to TX. Of course we have a regular aviary in the backyard now, but very few four-legged visitors.

  6. I don't mean this to make you feel bad, but to give you encouragement, and to invite you out West: Last week, during our opening day of archery deer in the Northern Sierra Nevada, I came across four coveys of quail. Three of them were mountain quail, one was California valley quail, and all of them had babies. In late August.

    We've had at least two clutches this year, possibly three (one of the mountain quail coveys' kids were tiny, yellow-and-brown striped).

    Opening day for mountain quail where I hunt is Sept. 10th, and for valley quail it's Oct. 15th. Come on over! Google maps says the trip should take 1 day, 2 hours from Norman to South Lake Tahoe. Bring your quail dogs, and I'll put you on a quail you've probably never hunted before, thereby providing you some expenses to write off!