Still daydreaming. There aren’t so many birds around in July (hence the daydreaming) but it’s as good a month as any to hear Quail. Haven’t yet heard one in Firle – perhaps this is the year.
The trick is, I think, luck. And failing that, patience and hard-work. When we lived in Alciston (three or four miles east of here) I used to walk the dog around the village most nights. I’d often stand at a five-bar gate on the edge of the village and attempt to imitate Quail. Always slightly embarassing when you think you’re alone in the dark, and you’re imitating a scarce game bird, and another villager looms out of the night and says ‘Good Evening’. But not embarrassing enough to stop me.
I have to confess I didn’t have a high success rate with this. But one night, after weeks of doing this, my call was returned from the hay meadows. Assuming it wasn’t another obsessive birder – and if it was, their imitation was much much better than mine – I’d found my own Quail.
Last week, Liam Curson heard two calling birds on the downs north of Seaford (close to where I’ve heard one before), and it seems to be a pretty good year for them across Sussex, with multiple calling birds at sites such as Pulborough, Burpham and the usual spot at Lancing. Who knows how many more are out there, ‘wetting their lips’ amongst the crops on otherwise unremarkable tracts of arable land?
Only one way to find out.