Sunday, March 25, 2012
Every spring I try to take one person who has never been to a grouse lek out to see the sage grouse strut. This morning I took Haley out to a lek not far from home. We were driving in about 20 minutes before sunrise, rolling through the lek (which is adjacent to a gravel road), admiring the grouse as they went about their business, when suddenly the entire lek erupted, with grouse bombing out in all directions to get away. A magnificent golden eagle had entered the scene, like a cruise missile gliding just a few feet from the ground. The eagle didn't succeed in taking a grouse (although a hen was in grave danger for several seconds). I expected the grouse to quickly return, but when I turned around to look again, the eagle had established a perch, so I knew the grouse would not return.
We drove about 15 minutes to another lek and enjoyed seeing a herd of pronghorn antelope standing atop a nearby hill, also watching the grouse activities below.