Monday, March 14, 2011

Another Greater Prairie-Chicken Search!

March 8, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan County) received several inches of snow last night. Roger and I decided to hike the 8 miles of the southern section of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area from Logan County Road 81 to County Road 67. We arranged for a ride back to our car just after noon.

The rolling landscape was still snow covered when we started out at sunrise (approximately 6:10 am). We believed that any Greater Prairie-Chickens wandering around would be easier to find by following their tracks in the snow.

This began the case. We found our first Greater Prairie-Chicken within 20 minutes of starting our trek. The male Greater Prairie-Chicken was according to GPS, 0.46 miles west of CR 81 (also known at Fleming Road & Hwy 55).

We walked about 200 yards apart. Roger on the upper ridge running west while I took the low road. Our second bird was marked at 4.13 miles west of CR 81. Finally, a third bird was found only a few hundred yards from CR 67. None of the birds showed any sign of displaying; only walking along searching for food.

Birds were scarce. A couple of Red-tailed Hawks, a pair of Northern Harriers and less than 100 Horned Larks were encountered. Both of us did see at least one Lapland Longspur.

By early afternoon, most of the snow had disappeared. However, our birding day was not over. At sunset, we found 2 male Greater Prairie-Chickens displaying on a "lek". This lek was first discovered three years ago on one of my long hikes through the area. While on public land, we prefer to keep the exact location unpublished.

Our last bird of the day, a Short-eared Owl flew over the lek!

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