A wild grouse chase

I’ve been back with the Bishop Field Office for two weeks now.  I can barely believe it.  I love walking down the halls of the office again.

Its sage grouse season here.  Everyone has been involved in counting the males out on the leks, and tagging birds with radio collars.   Male sage grouse gather in groups on open peices of land, to call and strut so that the females will come and mate with them.  We have been counting them from a distance by telescope to determine the size and health of the population.

I have also learned how to use telemetry (radio signals) to track the hens.  The radio collars emit a beep on a certain frequence, and you track the birds by finding the direction where the beeps are the loudest.  You end up looking rather demented, standing on the bed of a pickup, turning around in circles with a weird metal contraption held above your head.  The first day I went out to do this, we ended up tracking the collar to a grouse wing – something had eaten our hen.

When I first interviewed for this position a year ago, the job description indicated that I was going to be doing a lot more sage grouse work.  When I got here last summer, the grouse work season was over.  I’m very excited getting to work with these iconic birds now.

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