Thursday, March 25, 2010
Talking Greater Sage Grouse
Our day began at 5 AM again so that we could make a one hour drive over to a greater sage grouse lek before dawn. We had 2 similar but different sets of directions to a lek area south of Walden, CO. We tried the 1st one but saw nothing and after 20 minutes decided to try a site close by. We saw easily 200 antelopes and then 4 greater sage grouse flew by heading back over to where we had been earlier. So we went back to the 1st spot, and scanned the area. To our delight we found more than 30 grouse on their lek.
We watched many males like the one in the top photo doing their routine which is very different than the sharp-tailed grouse I wrote about yesterday. Today's grouse stays upright, spreads its tail and puffs out its feathered throat collar revealing yellow sacs in the front. When 1 male starts to do his thing, any male close by will start also to make sure the females don't automatically "fall" for the other guy. We thoroughly enjoyed watching these grouse for about 45 minutes before heading on down the road.
We stopped in Kremmling about 10 AM to have breakfast at the Moose Cafe. The sign on the door said that if you were in a hurry that you might prefer to go to the deli down the street. We had a nice leisurely meal. Mine was biscuits with gravy, 2 eggs over easy, bacon and hash browns. All were very tasty. Yesterday morning we had eaten at Johnny B Good's in Steamboat Springs where I had passed on biscuits and gravy to have eggs benedict, so I was happy to have biscuits and gravy this morning. Our meal at Johnny's was equally good, and the space was a classic diner/soda fountain.
After breakfast we drove around town looking for some finches. Two women eating in the Moose Cafe said we could go by their house, and sure enough we found a small group of gray-crowned rosy-finches that had 1 black rosy-finch mixed in with them. After that we headed down to Loveland Pass to look for white-tailed ptarmigans. Alas our run of good luck came to an end. We scanned the key areas for over an hour, but no white-taileds were found.
We then slid down the road to look for more finches in Georgetown which is known for having finches at local feeders in the winter. We did not find any. So we pointed the tacoma for Gunnison, climbing over 2 passes on the way, and snapped the other photo above of the sawtooth mountains. We checked out the gunnison sage grouse site on our way into Gunnison to be ready for tomorrow morning.
Dinner tonite was at Sugah's Cafe, a southern bistro. We started with the crab francois. The nite's special was a mediterranean sea bass flown in today. It came with a mixed greens salad with dried cherries, goat cheese and pecans. The fish came out perfectly cooked with mango/tomato chutney and rice. We washed all this very nice food down with a 2007 chardonnay from Frog's Leap winery.
The day ended with just 2 new birds for the week (greater sage grouse and black rosy-finch) which also were new birds for the year bringing the YTD total to 411. Tomorrow we have many target birds to look for starting with the gunnison sage grouse. Stay tuned!