The drive down was fine; stuck to the Jeff through Twin Bridges so I never had to take it over 50 mph, which was a good cruising speed for all concerned (my wife was driving the lek truck and she kept my backside clear). A little tight through L & C Caverns area but luckily no oncoming traffic to deal with; rest of the drive was a breeze.
Got set up in camp
and met up with Ben, the guy who's running the sage grouse study through Montana Audubon.
Sal, his English Setter, a real sweetheart that I met 2 yrs ago.
We hit one of the leks this morning; best count we had was 18 males/no hens (the guy who manages the campground had been out a few days before and spotted 30/20); Ben attributed the lower numbers to overcast weather. Sorry no pics but our P & S has a decent zoom but nothing that would show more than dun lumps with white spots.
Afterwards, a stroll through town
Back in camp (there in there, but it doesn't open for a few more weeks)
Local color, or black-and-white as the case may be
Scoped out some more spots we're going to work over the next few days
then drove into town to fuel truck and ourselves
a great day in beautiful country.
Very nice little bunch of photos! I especially like the composition of the church shot.
Had a different sort of time the last several days but saw a number of interesting bird things:
Drove a small boat (32' Nordic Tug) from Seward to Whittier... the same boat I drove the opposite direction in October for some upgrades. We had incredible weather with mirror calm seas and bright sunshine! Rare in this part of the World, especially this time of year.
As we arrived at the dock in Seward a flock of Dusky Canada geese flew over, the first of any geese this spring.
During the drive we saw a lot of typical birds... But lots were doing non-typical things... or rather not typically seen things. A pair of surf scoter pairs were having some serious interactions in Boot Cove (SW corner of Perry Island) with the males fighting hard and one winner taking off with both hens only to be attacked by the loser within 5-10 minutes. the white neck patch seemed to serve as an intimidator when flared, especially when one male was running across the water at the other.
Harlequins were not acting erraticly, but they will not be starting into serious breeding mode until they fly up into tiny streams and nest. Then the drakes will fly back to the coast and join up with lots of other drakes to spend the summer, safely removed from noisy ducklings...
We saw swans passing... the first of the season.
Just outside Anchorage we saw a couple groups of snow geese. The snows are really strange in AK. Almost none nest in AK, with the vast majority flying all the way North and hanging a left at the Beaufort Sea and flying to the West until they come to Wrangell and Sakhalin Islands in Russia. A very small population of breeding snows in the Prudhoe Bay oilfield is possibly a function of the passive predator control that takes place (just because there are so many people there) in the oilfield.
Anyway, it is a good way to spend a little time watching birds... and thinking about ways to use the feathers!
Okay, I have a very rare occurance for all you bird people. At the ranch in Eden, Wyo., we have a pair of Great horned owls and a pair of Redtailed hawks nesting no more than 30 feet apart. Every bird expert that we know of are saying that this just DOESN'T happen. Maybe one in a 100,000 or less chance of it happening, and even less of it being where it can be seen. We have reported it to the Game and Fish and are trying to get some pics to prove it though that has been hard to accomplish. Will keep you informed as the year goes, and will post pics if possible.
I knew of a northern goshawk and a northern spotted owl nesting in the same tree in California several years ago. It happens. They work different shifts, and are fairly evenly matched. Possibly they are liberals, and just decided they could all get along. LOL
We were thinking maybe they reached a compromise of sorts, especially after seeing a couple of the battles over the sight last year!
The owls were nesting by the middle of March this year, the hawks just got back to this area about the first week of April. Right on about different shifts, but which would I be, as I rotate my shifts? Maybe a hawowler?????
New day, new spot. Again, no bird pics; sorry but the observation spot was 1/2 mile away, although we did come across a male and female in the road on the drive in (couldn't get the camera out fast enough before they flushed).
this was their dance hall; by 9:00 AM the party was over
it's that time of year; they're doing it on the ground and doing it in the trees
concensus was that an evening of warm soaking and fine food was in order (no shots of the springs - a number of drunks and bad bodies not worth showing; suffice it to say it was refreshing)
gotta love a place with skunk pelts in the front window
next day's viewing spot required a bit of a hike and climb (views were worth it although only 1 grouse was spotted)
beating the bush for samples
Sal flushed one after a beautiful set; her reward back at the truck
leaving the Valley of 10,000 Haystacks
slide beaver, slide!
12 degrees and not a cloud in the sky; perfect spotting weather and the grouse obliged.
Baldy Mountain greets the morning sun
and a few hours later
munchin' in the willows
Got the guy talked down to $1500 and he's willing to throw in a chamois and some Turtle Wax. Call me crazy but I think I'm gonna do it
I forgot to take pictures yesterday morning, when it snowed 3" overnight and I froze my @ off counting three whole birds on a lek. Until the coyote ran through and they left. One more count this year, will try to take some pics. Not as scenic, town-wise, as yours, but the background is just as purty.
Saw an amazing goshawk-mallard interaction this evening while driving. Caught motion out of the corner of my eye immediately after noticing a flock of mallards flying toward me. A goshawk came out of nowhere and hit one of the trailing birds but only got claw on the base of a wing. They tumbled together in air for just a second with wings going in every direction!
The gos got a second grip with the second foot and set wings, gliding back away from the road with both wings set pretty high. Could not see any more struggling from the mallard at that point, so I assume it was a done deal the hawk would eat well.