Friday, 27 April 2018

Kansas, Nebraska and the Chicken Hunt

Up and at ‘em early doors, and headed out into the prairie from Dodge City to a new location in our search for Lesser Prairie Chicken. We bowled up at the allocated spot and began scanning, but only the call of a Great Horned Owl could be heard. All of a sudden the distinctive call of prairie chickens wafted our way on the breeze and we strained our eyes, moved along the road and all of a sudden Brian spotted them. They were far away but in the scope the views were ok, but fortunately there seemed to be a road running behind the lek and we hot-footed it there. Although slightly looking into the sun, the views were much better and we were treated to a fine display of up to 16 birds strutting their stuff. 

Also here was a singing Lillian’s Meadowlark (a likely future split) and Savannah Sparrow. Once the prairie chicken activity died down we drove slowly along the roads that criss-cross the prairie and found Grasshopper Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, and a male Yellow-headed Blackbird. Then we began driving north and came across a large flock of Brewer’s Blackbirds, then a flock of Yellow-headed Blackbirds, a dark morph Rough-legged Hawk, and Great-tailed Grackle at a rest stop.

Grasshopper Sparrow

Our route took us across the corner of Nebraska where some roadside ponds yielded a flock of White-faced Ibis, 5 Greater Yellowlegs, Wood Duck, and a perched Cooper’s Hawk around some ponds. Once back in Colorado we checked out a small lake with loads of waterfowl. There was a pair of Lesser Scaup, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Black-necked (Eared) Grebe, American White Pelican and other commoner waterbirds. The nearby trees held an Eastern Bluebird, Eastern Phoebe and Chipping Sparrow.

Greater Prairie Chickens at dusk

At 4.30pm we headed out to a nearby ranch where we had an introductory talk by the owner before driving out into the prairie where we had up to 32 Greater Prairie Chickens around a lekking area. Only 12 or so came into the lekking arena and a few began displaying by puffing out their throat sacs and raising their ‘ear’ tufts. It was a great look at our second prairie-chicken species of the day in our third state of the day.

No comments:

Post a Comment