Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Winter Greater Sage-Grouse

A couple of weeks ago I was in northeastern Montana for some meetings and I managed to carve off a few hours one morning for a quick trip out to an area where I knew Greater Sage-Grouse have wintered in the past. I also had a local resident tell me that she had observed a number of birds in the area recently so I was hopeful that I would run across a few birds.
The weather that morning was fairly nice but somewhat windy, which is pretty typical for that area this time of year. The worst part was that there was a pretty heavy overcast too, which didn't provide for the best light for photography.
I had to search quite a bit for any birds, but finally found a small group of about 5 birds just off the road, just as I was about to turn around and head back towards town. They got nervous when I stopped to watch them and they flew off a short ways to the south, making the rather miserable light conditions even worse as I would be looking directly into what light there was.
I moved off down the road a ways and pulled off to check to see if I had any phone messages and there they were. A large flock of about 80 birds just off the road, plucking sagebrush leaves from the exposed sage in the snow.

I am not surprised that I had a hard time finding these birds. They are very good at blending in to a snowy sage landscape.

 After a short while the bird relaxed and continued to forage in the sage next to the road I was on.

 Maybe next time I can find them with a bit more light to work with, but it certainly was a nice way to spend a morning.


MTWaggin said...

How fun is that! You are right, boy if you didn't see them move it would be hard to see them at all.

Blazingstar said...

Beautiful photos - lovely to see some winter images of Sage Grouse.