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.
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.