Lockdown Diary: Thursday 14.5.20

When I poked my head out of the front door this morning, I heard a weird yelping. My first thought is that some kids down the road were making weird yelping noises. Then I realised that the noise was coming from our tiny, overcrowded (with bushes and t...

When I poked my head out of the front door this morning, I heard a weird yelping. My first thought is that some kids down the road were making weird yelping noises. Then I realised that the noise was coming from our tiny, overcrowded (with bushes and trees) front garden, and moreover from a Blackthorn packed with House Sparrows, which seemed to be carrying on as normal, despite the yelping.
Here is a sound recording I made.

The fact that the sparrows were ignoring this odd bird made me realise it was not the owl it sounded like! Was it a baby corvid? Whatever it was, it didn’t mind the sparrows, wither, as it kept on calling, and it didn’t mind me trying to stare up at it through the foliage. So, I did what any self-respecting birder would do and recorded the sound, just in case…
After about 15 minutes, I thought that it would be best to back off, walk down the road and look back into the Blackthorn and see if the bird was visible.
And there it was, to my utter surprise, a male California Quail lifting up his head, flicking back his kiss curl and yelping!

California Quail, our garden, Peterborough, Cambs, 14.5.20 (Mike Weedon)
There have been a few reports of a (certainly escaped) California Quail turning up in gardens around Peterborough in the last couple of weeks, so perhaps I should have guessed that what it was. But I had no idea that they yelped or that they yelped from the top of trees! A very odd start to the day.