Monday, April 02, 2007

Sage Grouse Lek and "Not a Parking Lot"

I woke in the chilly predawn to temperatures in the twenties. To see the Sage Grouse display, it is best to arrive at the lek before sunrise. As the rosy rays of the sun kissed the sagebrush, I was still miles from the lek.

I turned off onto the rutted and dimpled gravel road. The directions said to travel 8.4 miles. At ten miles an hour, the grouse would be done displaying by the time I arrived. A small herd of Pronghorn Antelope bounded off when they heard the car.

After traveling nine miles and seeing no signs of the Grouse, I turned back. It was then that I spotted the white ruffs of the males catching the light. I had found the lek.

I was treated to an hour-long display of the males puffing out their chests and fanning their tails in competition for the females.

Then I headed down the road to chase other birds.

This pair of Sandhill Cranes let me snap a picture before flying away.

A Rough-legged Hawk strikes a characteristic pose.

In the afternoon, I woke up jc and we went for a ride. As we sat on a small country road watching American Avocets and Black-Legged Stilts in a soggy field, a local in a pickup truck and dirty baseball cap pulled up alongside. "You f---ing hippies!" he yelled. "This isn't a parking lot!" We waved and smiled and he continued on his way.
Later we have plans to sample the local Thai fare.


Ms J said...

beautiful pictures! We are going to Estes Park this easter, i dont know what to would be lovely to see some of the thnigs you have in the photograpghs.
by the way, i think its really cool how you and jc react to that horrid comment from the local dude.

Holly said...

I love your photos! You make me want to try to find the lek :-) Sleyed & I have always wanted to visit one. He says there is one in WA near Yakima. Was the lek in Malheur?