There were at least five displaying male RUFFED GROUSE near Bolio Lake this morning south of Delta Junction. It was a beautiful but cold morning. The temperature was 23 degrees when I arrived there about 5 am pre-sunrise, and I think they were drumming to keep themselves warm. They were spaced out along the road on both sides of the road, easy to hear, but not seen at all. I really tried, however, peering through the trees toward their drumming sounds. Because they were on off-limits military land, I could not go in any closer than the road. I stayed there until after 7 am when they seemed to have stopped drumming for the day. Dark-eyed Juncos kept singing the whole time.
I then hurried over to what I had been told was a Sharp-tailed Grouse lek spot in the Fort Greeley area. When I arrived at the lek, the Sharp-tails had pretty much stopped activity. There were still six on the lek, four of which periodically engaged in little cock-fights and then relaxed. One of them did a little pirouette and then started pecking at the ground.
After a brief stop at my room I drove about 20 miles toward Tok to the Barley Way area where I had gone yesterday. There were a couple of Sharp-tailed Grouse there, about three Northern Harriers, a Rough-legged Hawk (dark) and a Harlan’s Red-tailed Hawk all hunting the vast open spaces.
By this time I was thinking about my lack of sleep and that it was time for a nap so I headed west to the Richardson Highway, intending to go back to my room. As I pulled off the road at the Tanana Bridge area, I heard the unmistakable sound of a HAMMOND’S FLYCATCHER. There were at least three there, but with the constant traffic and their flitting about in the trees, I could hardly find them much less get a good view. So I continued back on the highway until I found Big Delta State Historical Park with a good tree stand. There I heard another Hammond’s Flycatcher which I finally was able to see well and get a couple of silhouetted pictures.
I learned this evening that Ruffed Grouse drum in the evening too. I drove the area near Bolio Lake where I had heard them this morning hoping to see one on or near the road. I did not see one, but there was drumming on and off from about 5:50-7:22 pm. A pair of Gray Jays and a moose filled out that part of my evening birding.
I finished the day back at Big Delta State Historical Park tonight on my way back to my room. The Hammond’s was still calling and there were also Ruffed Grouse drumming until almost 9 pm. At 9, a Great Horned Owl started calling.
Tomorrow I head back to Anchorage for a couple of days before a trip to southeastern Alaska, but first I plan to go back to Big Delta Historical Park to see what it is like in the morning
142 species so far