Trip Report What’s Not To Lek? 2019


Active Member
Part 1 - the Southern Reach

No formal grousing activities this year (hoping for some funding to come thru for 2020) so I decided to wing it in a few known places, just to see how the birds are doing. They keep it pretty low-key here when you cross the state line.

Dropping down into the Tendoys; snowpack decent

A good bit of ice on Clark Canyon

Went thru 2 pretty intense snow squalls on the way up the hill, over the pass and it’s a little calmer; Valle de Saltamontes

Managed to find a patch of bare ground and set up camp for the next few days

A good vantage point (the lek is on the hill to the far right); usually a reliable site, this one was active if not crowded. 12 birds sighted (sorry, this one’s a bit far away for pics), they flushed when a golden eagle buzzed the hill and that, as they say, was that

Tried to get a shot putting the camera up to the binoculars but this one’s just a bit too far away (this did pan out later on)

Gave me a chance to spend some time hiking around the area

And in town

Time to head north to visit family and friends; eagle sitting on the ice at Beaverhead Rock (there were 3 of them)

About the only unobscured shot of the Tobacco Roots (build that snowpack!)

I thought the Jeff only had 2 seasons - runoff and Hoot Owl closures; if I had more time I would have fished it for a while

Rest stop in Three Forks

Next day it’s on to the west slope; first yellow-headed blackbird sighting of the season (note to lazy birdwatchers - the ponds at the county landfill in Kalispell are loaded with them)

The Anacondas are breathtaking (they’re in there somewhere)

Last stop Missoula for visit with good friends (it was nice seeing Ben and Christine, too; thanks for the dusky grouse dinner)

On to Stumptown; blinded by liquid sunshine

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Greg Armstrong

Active Member
I heard some drumming on a hike I took this past week. Nice to hear them.
Lots of Warblers and some Meadowlarks singing as well.
Nice to see that “ghost town” again too, one of the best out there.

Thanks for the road trip!


Active Member
Enjoyed the road trip! Thanks for sharing (and now I have a new word in my vocabulary).


Active Member
Thanks for the report and all the pictures! Always good to see my home state. I introduced my kids to Bannack several years back and we had a down right scary time in the hotel. We were in the back of the hotel and the hair stood up on the back of my neck, and the kids (8 and 10 at the time), said, "Dad, we should get out of here!" and made a bee-line for the front door. Good fodder for the campfire that evening. Because it is so high, free of light, and usually clear in the summer, it is also a great stargazing location.


Active Member
Part 2 - Dead Center

Plan was to head east at daybreak but the weather had other ideas.

Forecast called for a few inches at Marias Pass. Not wanting to start the trip with a detour into the Middle Fork Flathead, I pushed the start time back a few hours. A few squalls along the southern edge of Glacier but the roads were clear

And after I crossed the divide things cleared up nicely

Sight of the infamous 2018 Chicken Tender Incident; my wife’s ill-advised attempt to feed one of the feral dogs that Browning is famous for

Family (wife’s) roots up in the Sweetgrass Hills

And here

Got involved in a low speed game of tag with a rough leg on a gravel side road, trying to get a decent pic (which I didn’t) while it hopped from pole to pole

Square Butte

Crossing the Mo near the Breaks

Pretty much 50/50 N/S x E/W

Base camp; nothing as pretty as the last one but it’s free and they have water

Out the next morning to a previously productive site

We counted over 50 here in 2016 but I only found 8 this time (sorry, no close-ups but sage have a personal space of about 200 yards; sharpies are much more tolerant)

Stretching the legs on some state land

Backside of Black Butte

Spooked a short ear

A good bit of grouse scat but nothing fresh

A prong’s horn

Last leg; hoping the sharpies cooperate

What lies beneath? Let’s hope we never have to find out

Luckily, the snow geese and tundra swans (and their attendant hordes) have largely vacated the scene so I have the place pretty much to myself (besides the sharpies, I’m here for the duck jam; crazy numbers and varieties)

I could make one hell of an omelet

But she wouldn’t be too happy

This one got a prime waterfront lot

Pretty colors and no mosquitoes

On the lek before first light and they’re going at it (not great quality but the best I could do holding a phone up to binoculars); like I said, the sharpies are much more tolerant of voyeurs

This had been a Ferruginous nest

But squatter’s rights prevail

Found the new nest just up the hill

Lots of these guys around

Last night out

About the only speed it’s safe at

In his later years, Montag became a farmer but old habits die hard

Say hey to Alice

Surprisingly good Mexican here

Thru the gap one more time

And safely back

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Scott Salzer

previously micro brew
Love the trip report and photos. You got some picks of some very nice raptors

I had the opportunity to visit a sage grouse lek in the early 70’s in southeast Oregon. Truly amazing to see those birds strut their stuff. And, yes, we respected their space and stayed at a very comfortable distance.

Thanks for the walk back down memory lane.



Active Member
Reading your reports always gets me thinking about heading south again across the border.... but I see the weather about the same there as here it snowed a couple inches again yesterday but the sun this week will hopefully take care of it and get on with spring. Glad to hear you saw a bunch of pheasants because they had a tough year with the previous winter and spring. I hope to head down that way in the next few weeks..... Thanks again for the report and pics

Old Man

Just an Old Man
After reading your report and the pictures, I saw a few places that I have been. I had a Corvair one time. The engine went to hell and I had a Spyder engine installed. That little car was a speed demon. My brother got rubber in all four gears.

Plus on snow in the mountains. I live in Butte and get a good view of the Highland range when heading towards Pipestone pass. They really got dumped on big time this year. Not into bird watching of any kind.


Wild Trout
The closest I come is seeing White-tailed Ptarmigans the Cascades while hiking high into the alpine regions.

Great birds! The calls are so cool.

One day, I hope to add some of those other great birds of the sage and plains!


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