Friday, April 6, 2007

Dancing in the Moonlight

Another early morning of lek surveys. We received a little less than an inch of snow last night and everything was white this morning. Better yet, the 3/4 moon was just setting as the sun came up. This lek had 34 males with about 10 females wandering through the lek. The stock ponds were pretty much frozen this morning and what patches were open had an assortment of waterfowl on them. At one small pond near the lek there was also a pair of Killdeer huddled in the snow at the ice edge looking very cold.

The number of males on the leks we are surveying appear to be up slightly from last year. We have been recovering from a heavy winter 3 years ago that appeared to be pretty hard on our Greater Sage-grouse populations and the number of males on the leks has been increasing since then.
The avifauna in the sagebrush grasslands hasn't increased in species diversity much yet this spring. I looked for McCown's Longspurs as they should be showing up any day as well as Mountain Plovers but it was pretty much Western Meadowlarks and Horned Larks this morning. Also one flock of Sandhill Cranes in the distance heading north.

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