Just back from the Lesser Prairie Chicken Festival in Woodward, Oklahoma (it’s still going on today) and I’m in sleep-dep recovery mode so this’ll be slightly brief and not especially coherent. Let me just say it was a blast and put it on your calendar for next year.
Highlights: 1) sharing a blind with Sharon Stiteler a.k.a. Birdchick and Tim Ryan of From the Faraway, Nearby. For four very intimate early morning hours we watched, filmed, photographed and (I) sketched the most wonderful front-row show of lekking Lesser prairie chickens, who are a truly delightful visual and auditory treat. 2) marking the barbed wire fences with clip-on white vinyl tags, a group activity that can help save these endangered birds, who fly into unmarked and virtually invisible fences. It turns out that barbed wire fences are a very large cause of mortality in lesser prairie chickens, and there’s a lot of unmarked fence in their limited habitat. Nice to get to do some actual good instead of just wringing the hands, plus it was good fun with a great bunch of birders. 3) Sue Selman’s ranch breakfast for hungry, happy birders following the lek watch. Heaping helpings of scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy and lots of hot coffee.
A big pat on the back to the Oklahoma Audubon Council for putting this together and thanks to Sue Selman for opening up Selman Ranch and her very excellent lesser prairie chicken leks to the public. What a privilege and and a joy to get a closeup look at another one of natures grand spectacles!
I’ll leave you with this (humble little) video I made of the lekking chickens. Birdchick got some thoroughly awesome videos- you will definitely want to go on over and have a look.