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Naturalist Field Weekend: Sage-Grouse Experience
April 20 @ 1:00 pm - April 22 @ 2:00 pm$420 – $450
April 26-28, 2018 | Montana High Country Lodge
Discover a success story of collaborative conservation and a dancing wonder of the world and the wide, open west–the Greater Sage-grouse. In this three-day exploration through the Grasshopper Valley of southwestern Montana, you’ll experience a welcoming mix of place-based experiences and expert knowledge as you explore the natural history of sage-grouse. This field experience will allow you a rare opportunity to see their magnificent mating displays on leks protected by ranchers, landowners, and conservation partners.
Greater Sage-grouse perform elaborate courtship displays each spring on a lek, or mating arena. During the early morning and evening, males display by strutting, fanning their tail feathers, and inflating bright yellow gular sacs, creating a unique sounds. The grouse return to the same leks year after year for generations, hoping to attract females.
This field weekend is for anyone looking to deepen their knowledge of this species, while enjoying being part of a group of naturalists in one of the most beautiful corners of our state. Bird watching and animal viewing abound around the lodge, in sagebrush areas near the lek, and on the afternoon field trip to Clark Canyon reservoir. Horned larks, sandhill cranes, long billed curlews, sage thrashers, coyotes, foxes and much more can be seen and heard during this memorable experience.
Jay Gore, Wildlife Biologist
Jay has extensive background in wildlife biology, endangered species management, and collaborative conservation processes. Jay has been an ‘Adopt-a-Lek’ coordinator, served on the Upland Game Bird Enhancement Citizens Advisory Council, and served on the Montana Governors’ Sage-grouse State Management Council. He has also worked as an Endangered Species Program Manager and National Grizzly Bear Habitat Coordinator for the Forest Service.
Kate Stone, M.S. Avian Scientist
Kate holds a M.S. in Forestry at the University of Montana where her thesis focused on the habitat associations of snowshoe hares on U.S. National Forest land in Western Montana. After completing her M.S. degree in 2003, Kate conducted fieldwork on small mammal response to weed invasions, the response of bird communities to bark beetle outbreaks, and targeted surveys for species of concern like the black-backed woodpecker and the Northern goshawk. Kate coordinates bird-related research at the MPG Ranch. She is involved in both original research and facilitating the use of the Ranch as a study site for outside researchers. Additionally, Kate is the field trip coordinator and website manager for the Bitterroot Audubon Society.
$420 for MNHC Members; $450 for Non-Members
Lunch will be on your own. You can purchase sack lunches from the lodge or bring food items from home.
Friday, April 26th:
Travel on your own to the Montana High Country Lodge. You can get there via a scenic drive through the bighole or by I-90 through Dillion. Plan to arrive anytime between 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. MNHC staff and guides will arrive by 5:00 for appetizers before a delicious meal.
After dinner Jay Gore and Steve Sherman, a Dillon biologist and photographer, will present an evening program on Greater Sage-grouse biology and conservation.
Saturday, April 27st:
Leave the lodge bright and early at 4:30 a.m. to travel to the lek in the MNHC bus. Early morning breakfast snacks and coffee and tea will be available. We will view the sage-grouse for 2-3 hours depending on their activity and the weather.
Breakfast will be served at the lodge when we return.
After breakfast travel in the MNHC bus to the Clark Canyon reservoir for more birding opportunities and lunch in the field.
Spend the afternoon resting, journaling, or exploring the area around the lodge.
After appetizers and dinner Kate Stone, biologist with MPG ranch, will present an evening lecture.
Sunday, April 28th:
Breakfast in the lodge.
Depart around 10:00 a.m.
Meet the MNHC staff and guides in Dillon to visit the La Fiesta Mexican food truck for lunch to-go or continue on your way home.
|T-shirt/Long sleeve shirt||Day pack||Snacks|
|Jeans/pants||Water bottle||Tea, instant coffee packets, ect.|
|Hiking boots/shoes that can get muddy||Camera|
|Lodge shoes||Travel coffee/tea mug|
|Brimmed hat/ball cap||Binoculars|
|Warm hat/cap||Bird guide book|
|Rain gear- jacket/pants or poncho||Flashlight|
Bring warmer items than you think you might need! Though the temperature may not be frigid, when you are standing around and not moving for 2 hours it really can get chilly. We highly recommend hand and toe warmers, good gloves and boots, and a very warm jacket. You can always leave items in the bus if you do not need them.
Not all of these items are required—you can use your judgment based on what you think you might need. But this list will help serve as a reminder. We will have multiple scopes and binoculars to borrow.
Please bring whatever you need to ensure your comfort and happiness.