I've just flushed about 8 Quail from a paddock south of Hamilton. They
were Stubble or Brown Quail in size but too quick for me to ID.
Do Brown and Stubble Quail have different flight charactersitics that
help ID them?
Flight of Brown Quail is quite distinct from other quail and
button-quail. They often rise higher — to about 2 m, arching over and
away and often uttering a cheeping note as they rise. Stubble are
normally silent. However, they will sometimes rise up in lower, similar
fashion to other quail/button-quail. They usually fly for a distance in
a straight line, with a burst of wingbeats and finally glide on
noticeably short, slightly bowed wings.
Stubble Quail in comparison to Brown, have a distinctive long-winged
flight with a side to side rocking motion, fast, direct, low over the
grass, often for several hundred metres. Wings appear long and pointed;
wingbeats rapid. Stubble will sometimes/often fly further than Brown.
To my mind, the long wings and rocking motion of the Stubble and the
shortish wings and glide on bowed wings in Brown are diagnostic.
Brown Quail are often in coveys - more so than Stubble I would think. Up
here in N Qld we seem to flush Stubble more as single birds or in pairs
wheras Brown are often in coveys of 6-10 or more birds.
I would agree with Aaron in that Brown Quail are generally a darker bird
than the Stubble Quail which is noticeable in flight, and that Brown
seem to prefer denser grassland, swampy heath and so on, wheras Stubble
Quail are more often in crops, pasture etc.
I would not be sure about movements. Here, both species seem to be
irregular and nomadic - appearing in some good seasons and then absent
for quite a while. When I lived on the Darling Downs in SE Qld, Stubble
were very vocal through spring and into autumn if there was a good wet
season, when breeding was extended but silent for the rest of the year.
While on the subject of quail/button-quail, a few people have asked
about Buff-breasted Button-quail sightings this year. I flushed a pair
(unfortunately the only sighting this season) from typical sparse
vegeatation in January close to Mt Carbine. Further visits proved
fruitless - no calling and I was unable to flush birds again. This seems
to be typical of this button-quail as I have had similar experience in
the pre-breeding season in other years - birds appear briefly but seem
to keep moving.
Since January, we have had a fairly intensive wet season (after the two
driest years since records began). The grass cover became very dense
quite quickly, a feature which this species does not seem to tolerate.
All sightings over the past 12 years without exception have been from
very sparsely covered ground, so much so that one would think the
habitat was unsuitable for any button-quail/quail.
Interestingly, the most obvious thing about Buff-breasted BQ when
flushed is the very large size of the female.
Very few Brown Quail or Painted BQ about this year as well despite the
good wet season.
PO Box 55,
Mt Molloy Qld 4871
Ph: 61 7 4094 1549
Fax: 61 7 4094 1372
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