My favorite bird photograph

I think (hope?) you'll agree this is a pretty amazing photograph. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time.

I was walking through a park one summer's day. As I passed a large flower bed filled with daylilies, I heard a couple of rustling sounds.

I froze in my tracks, craned my neck and saw several tiny California quail chicks. They were poking about in the soil and wandering here and there.

Fortunately, I had my new camera (a Canon PowerShot SX50) along with me so I was excited at the chance to get some photos of these tiny fluff balls. The camera has a "vari-angle" LCD screen so I could hold the camera up high while seeing the scene I was trying to frame.

I'd shot a few pictures when something amazing happened:

The papa quail suddenly appeared in the middle of all of the chick activity and stood holding his wings out. I thought, "what in the world is he doing?" because I'd never seen them do that before.

The next thing I knew, all of the babies came a-running and stood under his wings! Soon I saw a couple of them dozing on their feet. I finally realized what was happening: it was nap time and the dad was providing them with protection from the sun and predators. How cool is that?!

So there I stood, taking image after image while saying to myself "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! I can't believe I'm getting pictures of this!"

And that's my story. As I said above, I was in the right place at the right time. And I had my camera along with me -- thank heavens for that. It also pays to be really observant of what's going on around you. Before that happened, I had no idea there were quail in that bed or what was about to take place.

I'm very lucky.