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One Quail of an Experience

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Looking back at my experiences over the summer, I realize how valuable each one really was. I can’t recall a time that I wasn’t learning or getting involved with something new here at the Noble Research Institute. One experience that stands out to me was getting to work with a new bioacoustic technology while performing call count surveys on northern bobwhite quail.

This summer, my main project consisted of conducting call count surveys on bobwhite quail at one of Noble’s ranches. Although I have had some previous experience working with bobwhites at Texas Tech University, I have never had the opportunity to work with this new type of bioacoustic technology. From experience, I knew that call count surveys consisted of early mornings, lots of coffee and a positive attitude. So, getting to work with this new technology really intrigued me.

Although waking up at 4 a.m. to make it to the ranch by sunrise may seem early, it was actually one of my favorite parts of the summer. Being out on the ranch, watching the sunrise and enjoying the crisp morning air made for a great start to my days. Besides, who wouldn’t trade office work for a beautiful morning out in the field?

The sun shines on a beautiful field at Oswalt Ranch.The sun shines on a beautiful field at Oswalt Ranch.

Other great parts of performing the call count surveys were seeing many different wildlife species, learning new plants and listening for the awaited “bob-white” calls. No matter how many times you have heard the calls, each new encounter seems to bring some sort of excitement or satisfaction.

I had the privilege to work with some new bioacoustic recorders, which may have a promising future. These monitors are basically remote recorders that “listen” and record the different sounds they pick up. They have the capability to capture large amounts of data from many different wildlife species, such as birds and frogs. However, I also discovered they have the capability of recording the singing and whistling of my friend and fellow scholar Cole Fagen and myself. If it was possible to pick up the recordings of us while in the ranger, I am sure you would hear more Haggard, Whitley and Marty Robbins than you’ve heard on the radio in many years. Quite frankly, it was hard to remember we had something listening to us the entire time during the early morning surveys.

Cresten Sledge and Cole Fagen listen alongside bioacoustics monitors for northern bobwhite quail calls.Cresten Sledge and Cole Fagen listen alongside bioacoustics monitors for northern bobwhite quail calls.

Overall, I am extremely blessed to have been a part of these experiences over the summer. I have made good friends and contacts, learned more than I imagined, and have opened my eyes to the many possibilities in the agricultural field. I can honestly say that my time at Noble will be missed.

About the Author
Cresten Sledge is a 2018 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture from Peaster, Texas. His summer projects focused on northern bobwhite quail surveys and white-tailed deer data. He is currently a senior at Texas Tech University and is majoring in natural resource management with a concentration in wildlife biology.

Cresten Sledge
2018 Lloyd Noble Scholar in Agriculture