Last month we conducted our annual roadside counts at RPQRR. The survey consists of 4 observers counting all quail seen along a 19.2 mile transect. The transect is broken into 2 routes, where one is conducted in the morning and the other in the evening (and then flipped) and replicated 4 times. The data indicate similar abundance to the last 3 years.
While roadside counts tend to be a good predictor of quail abundance during the hunting season, we believe some of these results should be couched with context. Many birds seen along roadside surveys this year were younger and RPQRR still had a handful of incubating birds during the surveys. As a matter of fact, this year’s nesting has extended longer than any other year at RPQRR in the last 10 years, surpassing even 2014, 2015, and 2016 nesting seasons where final hatches occurred around Sept. 1. This year, nesting on RPQRR was delayed perhaps due to harsh winter conditions and poor physical condition of the population. There was also little “breeding stock” coming into the nesting season. Good spring and summer conditions, however, allowed the birds to make a big and extended “push.” While populations likely won’t make a ‘180’ in September, we do believe there is reason for optimism for a decent 2021-2022 quail season on areas that are actively managed. As autumn heads this way, we’re preparing for fall covey counts (Oct 15 – Nov 15) and our annual trapping-banding efforts (late Nov) which is our best and final litmus test of the year’s population.