U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
News.bytes Extra, issue 324
Looking at leks
An hour before sunrise, wildlife technician Blair Parrott heads out into northwest Nevada from Cedarville, California, in hopes of seeing sage grouse at one of the 48 active leks found within lands managed by BLM-California's Surprise Field Office. A lek is a gathering place for male sage grouse for the purpose of competitive mating display. Sage grouse congregate before and during mating season, which is usually March through mid May, on a daily basis. Males and females meet at the same location every year and put on an extravagant display or "mating dance."
This time of year, accessing sage grouse strutting grounds is tricky -- it could require use of snowshoes, all-terrain vehicles or snowmobiles. In past years wildlife staff have also conducted aerial surveys of the leks. Each Spring, Surprise Field Office wildlife staff coordinate with the California Department of Fish and Game and Nevada Department of Wildlife to ground-check all known active leks within the Surprise Field Office boundary. This requires visiting the leks (from a respectable distance) in the early morning hours as often as weather will permit during the sage grouse mating season. Using a high-powered spotting scope or binoculars, wildlife staff count how many males and females they see on each visit, while also collecting basic weather and field condition data. Due to the remote location of each lek, getting to more than one lek per sunrise is a challenge. On this morning (March 21, 2008), Blair drove about an hour from the office in a 4x4 truck, parked on the main road and then travelled by ATV and snowshoe to the lek.
Starting the day at sunrise, not much to see here yet...
Wildlife technician Blair Parrott casts a long shadows as she snowshoes into the sunrise...
Stopping for a look with binoculars...
A spotting scope, tool of the trade
- B. Parrott, 3/08
|Last updated: 03-26-2008|