Today we started out at 03.30 in the dark and headed into town to meet up with Fred, who then drove us in a School bus for half an hour out into the prairie. We arrived and it was still dark but we could hear the bubbling call of our target bird the Lesser Prairie Chicken. As the sun slowly came up we could see shapes jumping and dancing about 75 metres away. Then the sun came up higher and we enjoyed great views of 7 'chickens' running, jumping and puffing out their bright orange air sacks on the sides of their neck. Crests pointing up and tails fanned they put on a real show. The worst thing was no matter what setting I tried on my camera I just could not get any sharp photos! Gina's small camera faired much better so we do at least have some record shots.
This is Gina's shot followed by two poorer shots by me!
After a fine Ranch breakfast we set off north towards Wray and the site of our next target species the Greater Prairie Chicken. Along the way a few stops found us Swainson's Hawks, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Harriers, some Mule Deer and a superb North American Porcupine sat in a tree. There was another curled up in a brush pile below, but once again Gina took the best photo.
North American Porcupine
We finished the day by checking out the 'Lek' - dance area of the Greater Prairie Chickens. We saw 28 birds and a Burrowing Owl in the area we will be up before dawn to visit in the morning. We have fingers crossed for some better photos than today.