Before I get to what I saw on my ride yesterday, I want to thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers on the passing of my daughter recently. She was the greatest mom and daughter any person could have ever wished for.
I don’t recall this much heat so soon and my notes don’t mention it. With that being said, I have no idea of what to expect from it. I had some good reports three weeks ago from Eric Johnson and Steve Schwinn on how good the spring conditions looked and already seeing chicks on the ground. I took a very short walk yesterday to get a feel of what is going on out there.
The ride to the mountains showed a lot of promise. I saw two different groups of young pheasants big enough to fly from the road to the uncut alfalfa. For some reason, the farmers are behind on their first cutting, which seemed to have produces a better survival rate for the pheasants. I also saw one covey of very small quail. Usually I don’t see quail chicks until the middle of July even though I know there are some out there. I also saw a lot of single male quail just hanging out while their partner is sitting on the nest. Not just a lot, but more than I can ever recall seeing. The only negative I saw was three magpies raiding a quails nest. I believe they do more damage to the quail population than anything else.
Further up the hill, we saw three different hens with about ten chicks each. The chicks looked to be 3 weeks old or better.
As I mentioned, me and the boys took a short walk in chukar country. 75 degrees at 6 in the morning made sure it was short. Neither of the dogs or I showed much interest in getting to where we might find some birds and we didn’t. The mountain is quickly drying out but there are still lot’s of grasshoppers and other insects to help the birds with their nutritional needs. We saw no sign of birds such as droppings or tracks but that is pretty normal during nesting season.
The one conclusion I came up with for this season is most of those springs we’re use to finding at the beginning of chukar season will be dried up. Last year there was water everywhere for the opener but that won’t be the case this year. Many people said they didn’t see as many birds last year on the opener. I think that was because the birds didn’t need to congregate at water sources, but the numbers were there. This year may be the reverse. Lot’s of birds at fewer water resources c an make bird numbers seem exaggerated.
I have no idea what affect this long heat wave will have on the chukar and hun hatch but as of today there seems to be plenty of what chicks need to survive on the mountain. A little more cover to protect them from predators might be helpful. I predict a banner year for the birds that nest at lower elevations but am just keeping my fingers crossed for those high desert birds.
When the weather allows me and the dogs to ramble further up the mountain I hope to report on lot’s of little chukars chasing grasshoppers across the mountain faces. I’ll let you know, but until then, keep your fingers crossed that this prolonged heat won’t cause any stress on chick numbers.