While sitting at my favorite spot I was being very still and quiet. It's amazing what you can see if you just be still and quiet. Suddenly I heard a loud chirp. My first though was that it was a Marmot, it was so loud. Then I noticed through the bush next to me that it was a bird, a big bird. I didn't make a sound. I could barely see the bird through the bush sitting on a high rock. I didn't want the bird to notice me so I very slowly moved my head to gain a better line of sight through a small gap in the bush. Yes. I did it. The bird was beautiful. I had never seen one like it before. It was large. About the size of a chicken with beautiful coloring and markings.
It had a grey round head with a crest and a very tall plumage that would curl and straighten when it chirped. Under it's eye it was a brown area that was highlighted and outlined in white. I couldn't see the entire bird, but what I was fortunate enough to see was beautiful.
When it chirped, his chest would shake and his head moved up and down slightly, almost as if it was difficult to chirp and required a lot of effort, but I don't think so. His location was perfect too. He positioned himself high on these rocks overlooking the forest below. He would rotate his head to the left and chirp, then in the middle, then to the right, then he would cycle all over again. He wanted to cover all of the area that he could to look for a girlfriend tonight. As loud as his voice was, I have no doubt that he was covering a lot of area.
OK. Now how do I photograph this bird without getting busted? All I had was my iPhone. My plan was to slowly move my arm up and over the top of the bush to get the shot. I had just installed an app that would enable me to take a picture by releasing the screen anywhere. I didn't know exactly how I would use it when I got it, but it was perfect for this tricky shot.
So I'm ready to try it. The worst that could happen is that it would fly away right? I silently started moving my hand up over the bush and I am discovered. Bummer. The bird simply flew about six feet (2 meters) to the right. There is no way to get the shot now. The best I can do now is to put the iPhone into video mode and record his sound. That is what I did. At least I was able to take something away from our close encounter. His chirp was LOUD. Shortly after I recorded this he flew to other locations to make his announcements. He was getting around.
As soon as I returned to my cabin, I looked him up in my bird guide. It's a Mountain Quail. I photographed his artistic rendering for you. If I am lucky enough to encounter one of these beautiful birds again, perhaps I will be lucky enough to get the shot next time.
One characteristic that I noticed about this bird was that he seemed very cocky and confident. He was very determined and professional. A professional bird. Right!
That encounter was fun. I'll never forget it.