Saturday, June 28, 2008

Montana Prairie Morning

The month of June is the best time to be out on the prairie. If you time it right you can beat the mosquitoes and it is even better. This spring the prairie in Northeastern Montana was quite dry but we have made up for it in the last month or so. I have been spending too much time being a government bureaucrat in front of my computer and no time being a wildlife biologist and I have desperately missed being out on the prairie in the morning. Last week I was able to get a quick morning trip in when two young Montana birders, Josh Covill and Andrew Guttenburg were in town. They were on their way back home from the ABA Young Birders Conference in Minot, North Dakota and they both wanted to see Mountain Plovers and McCown's Longspurs. Dad drove and we took them and Andrew's sister out to find both species. We found them right away and were back in town before too long. Not much time in the field but finding life birds for someone is always good.

This morning I needed to get out. Looming and past deadlines and general ill weather in the office have been taking their toll and I needed a recharge. I headed north early this morning to one of my favorite areas full of Chestnut-collared Longspurs, Sprague's Pipits, Baird's Sparrows, and a few McCown's Longspurs. I have been trying to get a real good photo of a Chestnut-collared Longspur and I had hoped that I get that accomplished this year but it looks like unless I get out some more mornings soon, I am going to have to wait until next year. It was still a very nice morning.

Lots of longspurs around but they are hard to get close to.

Unless you count nests, I found this one with little effort. Must be a re-nest for this pair.

Ferruginous Hawks were flying around.

A Northern Harrier heavy into molt too.

A pair of Savannah Sparrows were tending a nest with four young.

Baird's Sparrow were quite common too.

A Badger was working a hole, probably digging out a Richardson's Ground Squirrel.

When I walked up to the hole to see what was going on I found this Burying Beetle in the dirt recently excavated from the hole.

1 comment:

Julie Zickefoose said...

We've been haunting the same habitats. But for McCown's longspur, all the same critters inhabit NoDak where we were in June. I tried so hard to see a badger face but my life look was like someone throwing a bathmat into a ditch. Ah well. Something to look for next year when we're in Montana for a bluebird convention--Russell Country. You going to be around June 9, or surveying something?