and All That Jazz
High Lonesome’s May Newsletter
One of the highlights of spring, here at High Lonesome, is our annual trip to see the incredible lekking behavior of the Prairie Chickens and Grouse of the Colorado prairies. We had a very successful trip again this year, quickly finding Western and Clark’s Grebes, Snowy and Mountain Plovers and a whole range of sandpipers and other shorebirds before getting down to the main purpose of the trip: the Prairie Chicken and grouse leks.
This year was perhaps our best viewing yet of the Lesser Prairie Chickens' dancing. They were exceptionally active and vocal, perhaps because it was an unseasonably warm and beautiful morning on the prairie. Our luck was in and shortly after leaving the lek we found a Harris’s Sparrow, a life bird for several people. Our views of the Greater Prairie Chickens next day weren't quite so spectacular. A distinct lack of females at the lek reduced the males' activities to pushing and shoving one another around for the best spots. To make up for it though, we found a flock of McCown’s Longpurs, and everyone got good looks at them. At Gunnison, we saw about 20 Gunnison Sage-grouse, and they too were quite active on the lek.
Much to our relief this year, we were able to find a large flock of Brown-capped Rosy-Finches and two Black (though not a single Gray-crowned) despite the low snowfall, along with Evening Grosbeaks, Cassin’s Finches, Pine Siskins, Dark-eyed Juncos, and a single Townsend’s Solitaire.
Other highlights were the Dusky Grouse and Sharp-tailed Grouse leks, some 36 males at the Great Sage-grouse lek, a very cooperative Prairie Falcon and Rough-legged Hawk, American Three-toed Woodpecker, and Gray Jays along Route 14.
All in all, despite the lack of snow and non-appearance of the Gray-crowned Rosy Finches, folks headed home pretty happy with the trip.
Our 2013 tour is scheduled for April 11 – 20, 2013 and you can find all the details here.
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