Saturday, April 30, 2011

Colorado: Day 3 (Apr 4) - Lamar to Wray incl. Greater Prairie-Chicken videos

We started the day well before dawn as we met Fred Dorenkamp (of Arena Dust Tours) in Granada. Fred would escort us to a small private LESSER PRAIRIE-CHICKEN lek near the small town of Holly. We arrived before we could see anything, but it didn't take long to hear the cackling of the chickens. As the sun slowly rose, we enjoyed distant views at about a half-dozen birds as they jumped, fluttered, and cackled.

On our way back to Granada we came across two FERRUGINOUS HAWKS, a young light morph and an unaged dark morph. A nice light adult SWAINSON'S HAWK also made an appearance.

From Granada we hoped to intercept some migrant CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPURS in the Lamar area. We followed up on a couple of recent eBird reports. Sure enough we stumbled across a small flock of four, including a couple adult males. The birds proved elusive, so we had to settle for scope views of only a single female. An equal highlight, and very possibly our favorite mammal of the trip, was a golden-colored SWIFT FOX in the grasslands.

Next on the list were a couple bodies of water north of Lamar. Thurston Reservoir held side-by-side WESTERN and CLARK'S GREBES. Neenoshe Reservoir would prove productive for shorebirds including 4 SNOWY PLOVER and a few BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS.

We then headed north to the town of Wray where we would meet a cattle rancher who has over 100 GREATER PRAIRIE-CHICKEN leks on his ranch; he would share one of them with us this evening. We were expecting a good show, but words can't really describe just how amazing this spectacle would be. The eerie cooing sounds, the fascinating (and funny!) foot-stomping dance...we watched nearly mesmerized until the light started to fade.

We returned the following morning to view the lek at its peak activity level, which ended up being 44 birds strong (33 males, 11 females). The photos and videos below are combined from this evening and the following morning (rather than splitting them up into two posts). Videos (with sound) are at the bottom.





























































Greater Prairie-Chickens

Combine that experience with a UConn National Championship later that evening, and the three of us had an evening we will never forget.

- NB

2 comments:

  1. YES! hee hee :] Glad you got to experience them.

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  2. Those are some incredible pictures and some spectacular footage of the prairie chickens. Sounds like an amazing trip

    James Purcell

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