They were waiting for the rain, but the rains came late.
Instead of wetting the ground and bringing shoots and bugs and cover that just hatched quail so badly need, the monsoon came when the chicks were on the ground.

The rain came in a torrent, mixed in equal parts with hail and sleet, hammering down on the desert. While the succulents drank it in, the quail were victims of its fury. Innocents swept away by the very thing they so badly needed. Add in years of drought, exacerbated by overgrazing and it’s tough times for New Mexico’s uplands.
Low survival rates mean few birds, scattered widely across the desert in small bunches. These are not the easy birds of wet years. There are no lay ups now.
These birds have been hunted, by man and beast.
At the flush, they go low and fast. Bird, tree, bird, nothing.
No shot, just a quiet curse for myself. On a day like this one, in a year like this one, the opportunities are few and far between.
The dog is exuberant and I laugh at how much energy she regains from her success at finding a single.
“Go on,” I shout at the scalie, rocketing downhill out of sight. That bird is a survivor. A worthy sire for another year’s covey.
It’s been three months of quail hunters, hawks, coyotes, bobcats, skunks and foxes.
Now the season is done.
The men and dogs are gone from the fields.
Time to dodge the raptors and predators and wait for the rain.
The dog and will I settle in and wait for Nov. 15.
For them, it’s merely another chapter in a long dry spell.
They wait for the rain.

One thought on “Rain”

  1. I know exactly how you feel. Our grouse chicks were drowned this year. All the birds we found were older smarter more flighty birds, not the young dumb birds. It just make us worker harder for fewer birds. Great post

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