Today has felt a bit like the real start of spring. It has been warm, sunny and dry. This afternoon we found the first quail eggs of the year, one from each hutch. The warmer weather and increasing day length should mean more eggs so hopefully we won't need to buy any more eggs from the supermarket.
The last eggs we bought were actually from a house in the countryside just outside Allesley. They were advertised as fresh eggs rather than the free range we normally buy but we needed eggs and were passing so we thought we'd give them a go instead of stopping at Morrisons on the way home.
Today is definitely the sort of day when you don't want to touch any metal flagpoles with your tongue. It was very cold overnight so when I went out to check on the quail this morning, I had to bring their mushroom-shaped drinkers inside to defrost. The water had completely frozen in one of them. The birds seem to be coping with the cold weather ok though. They have shelter and they keep huddling together so they don't get too cold.
When I opened one of the hutches, my I moved the metal bar out of the way so I could open the door, and my hand started to stick to the metal. On a related note, the car door had frozen and was tricky to open. The door handle was very icy and kept sticking open, so the door wouldn't shut properly!
I was in the garden watering the vegetables when I saw something round and brown hiding among the beans. I looked closer and noticed it was one of our quail. She must have escaped while they were being fed and neither myself nor Emma noticed. At least the bird had the sense to hide somewhere reasonably safe. She would only have been there a day or two and at least there was plenty of food nearby.
We have an automatic drinker system set up for the quail, where we have a bucket and a series of tubes which take water to drinking troughs inside the hutches. Yesterday when I went into the garden, I noticed that one of the tubes had a few small holes in it. I suspected that a cat might have been in the garden and might have chewed at the pipes. I put some tape over the tube to stop the leak, and scattered some 'cat repellent' pellets in the garden.
This morning I noticed that something had chewed the end off one of the tubes. Whatever did it, it must have been frustrated by not being able to get at the birds. If it was a cat, then either it has lost its sense of smell, or our cat repellent has stopped working.
It's a bit of a pain because we will have to replace the tubing and get something to make it cat proof. I'm assuming it's a cat rather than a fox because we often see cats prowling around the gardens. The few occasions when we've seen foxes in the area, they have always been in the roads between our house and the nearby fields.
We were at the Newark Showground to attend a bird show organised by the East Midland Bird Breeders Association. Most of the show was dedicated to cage birds such as parrots, finches and other 'decorative' birds. We were there to meet other users of the Coturnix Corner forum.
It was a long way to travel to just go to a bird show but we (me and Emma) went to some of the tourist attractions in the area yesterday. We also met a couple of the forum people last night and went into Lincoln for a Wetherspoons meal and a few drinks. We walked up and down the Steep Hill during the evening. I felt ok at the time but my calf muscles started aching today.
One of our Quail managed to escape today. Emma was trying to pick up one of the Bobwhite to take him indoors, so we could move one of the quail hutches. The Bob managed to wriggle loose and flew over the fence, and kept flying over several gardens.
We went walked along the back alley trying to find him. We managed to corner him in the side alley which lead back to the road. It took a couple of goes to actually catch him.
The Bobwhite quail can fly much better than the Japanese. When one of our Japanese Quail escaped it only got as far as a neighbours shed roof.
We obtained some Bobwhite Quail last weekend. During the week we built another quail run for them to live in - this means we've lost even more of the garden now. If we want to sit out, there's a small area between the quail and the vegetables.
The bobwhites make an interesting sound - they sometimes sound like an old shortwave radio being tuned in.
Here are some photos of the new quail chicks which have hatched within the last day
Tray full of quail chicks. The blue wire is a temperature sensor so we can make sure they aren't getting too warm or cold. The silver object on the right is the heat lamp to keep the temperature at around 37°C
Emma was away at a conference so I was at home looking after the animals. I'd been outside to check the quail and collect any eggs. Later in the evening I heard a noise outside and went to the door to see what it was. There was a 'Maglet' quail sitting by the back door.
I picked it up and went to see where it had come from. Another quail was sitting next to the large hutch, and two of the golden quail were in the far corner of the garden.
The door on the bottom floor of the 'double decker' rabbit hutch was open about an inch. The bolt is quite stiff and it looks like I hadn't locked it properly. The 'Maglet' must have gone to the back door to attract my attention and snitch on the others.
Not quite free range but we got the quail out for a run in the garden. It was really warm today so when we got home, we got the chairs out and sat outside. We had to keep an eye on the quail so they didn't try to escape. No-one tried to fly over the fence but Maggie tried to make a run for it and aimed for the small gap between the fence and ground.
They enjoy to peck at the dandelion leaves near their hutch. They like most leafy veg, so we gave them some of the spinach beet leaves too. Our salad veg isn't growing very well at the moment so they'll have to wait before they can sample those.
On Friday, a couple of people from the Coventry Rabbit and Guinea Sanctuary came for the boy chicks which we were keeping outside. They have an aviary and wanted some quail to keep in it.
We've since moved some of the other birds outside to the hutch, so all the birds now have even more space each. We have a reasonable cock to hen ratio (at least 2-3 hens per cock is recommended) so that should minimize the chance of fighting while still giving us a decent supply of eggs.
Earlier in the year, Emma built a multi-storey quail house, with each shelf having a wide plastic tray where the quail can live. The trays have high sides so they can't kick too much bedding out.
There are nest boxes in the corners of some of the trays. Yesterday morning we found 'Stumpy' trapped between the tray and the wire mesh. This was in the corner where one of the nest boxes were, so we think he might have fallen off and down the side. In a couple of months of keeping the quail in there, none had managed to do this.
We rescued Stumpy and put him back, but later on to our surprise we found another bird trapped in the same way. We put her back but she obviously didn't learn from the experience because later in the day we found her trapped in the same place.
After putting her back for the 2nd time, we decided to block off the gap by filling it with rolled up newspaper. We only blocked off the one side near the nest box because we thought it was unlikely that a bird would be sitting on the edge of the tray at the other side of the cage.
This turned out to be a mistake because about an hour or so later we found the same bird trapped for the 3rd time, but now on the other side of the tray. Both ends are now blocked off. You can see the rolled up newspaper in the top photo.
The quail chicks (5 weeks old and almost full sized) were getting a bit 'overcrowded' indoors. They had plenty of space in their 1m x 0.5m cages but they occasionally stampede, which they don't do if they have more room. We put half of the birds outside, in the rabbit hutch we bought last year. There are 8 birds in the hutch, so they have a lot more room now. The birds indoors have been split between their existing cage and the newly vacated one so everyone has extra space.
We were waiting for the weather to improve, to minimise the change of freezing nights. Unfortunately we put them outside before we saw the weather forecast and the impending storm. We checked on them this morning and they were all ok. Emma put them in the top part of the hutch last night, and they had kept dry.
The rabbit hutch.
One of the quail, in the small hutch 'extension'.
Here are some recent animal photos, mainly the Quail chicks and a few hamster pics.
Click on the thumbnail to view the image
Yet more Quail News. This morning, we could hear a 'peeping' sound coming from the middle room, where the quail chicks are. I went to investigate and found one chick out of the cage and running around the floor. It was surprisingly fast and when Emma came to help me catch it, we saw a 2nd chick had also escaped. We didn't think they'd be able to jump high enough to get out of the cage, so we hadn't bothered to put the lid on.
We've also had the first egg from one of the quail chicks which hatched on Christmas Eve. We're not sure which one it was from yet.
We had 20 quail chicks hatch at the beginning of the month. One of them was much smaller than the others and didn't seem to be eating properly - sadly it died after a couple of days.
We still have 19 of them. This morning we thought we might have lost a couple because we found 2 soggy half-drowned chicks in their drinking water. We knew that quail were stupid birds and had been putting marbles in the water so they could get their beaks in to drink, but not get their whole heads in to drown. The chicks shouldn't have been small enough to fit in the water trough. Somehow two of the smallest managed to get in but not climb out again. A third chick looked like it had been in the water but had managed to get out on its own.
We dried them out and kept them warm and they seem to be doing ok now. We've also put the marbles back in the water to stop it happening again.