The Quail Diaries Cuarto–first

I am back in California

Why I


or rather why am I failing.

I trapped two young males today.  I will post their lovely pictures tomorrow.  I also observed three of my banded birds out with large families–all of the juveniles seem to be @ two months old.  The boys are just starting to get male plumage.

for Beauty.

When I trap them, I examine the moult of their primary and secondary wing feathers and this gives me some sense of how old they are.

[I can hear coyotes–two yips]

We’ve been down in California for a few days. The moment I stepped outside the airport, I smelled the sea.  I forget how I miss it until it is just there.

Why I failed

With the birds, the quail, I feel more of a sense of vocation than in anything else.  This is hard for me to explain.

she didn’t understand most people never even looked at them

I assume everyone has that same sense of the infinite when watching a bird do…and I am surprised when my obsession appears to be peculiar.  Obviously, I continue to be quite naive.  I continue to exist outside.

And my kids seem to straddle my peculiarity and the world’s indifference quite easily, which is a good thing.

I wander.


In the run up to this trip I happened to read some books that touch on the history of California and it occurred to me how deeply my roots go in this strange state.  Late 1800’s–not deep in deep time sense, but deep in the life of a state.  And deep in the sense that my family has been as entrenched in what has formed this strange place as anyone else.

If you have room to spare fill up with additional provision, as they will be scarce after you get through

Including–the cross country migration in covered wagon, the lumberjacks, the farmers, the shipboard captain and the builder of the empire state.

And now I am an ex-pat from the Golden State.

What does this mean for my quail–perhaps not much–but The Quail Diaries are, of course, more about me.

If I could truly give them voice I would…but I know that is impossible and arrogant to think on).

If we have erred in our description in any one point, we are sure it is a trivial one, and one of judgement, rather than intent.

quotes are from Emily Dickinson, Anne Perry and Joseph E .Ware’s Emigrants’ Guide to California


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