CHICKENS - 17 APRIL 2012
Prairie Sunset - Lesser Prairie Chicken Preserve, Milnesand, NM, File # 1216040
Link To Original Image
I'm not sure if I should be showcasing this particular image since I'm out here in Eastern New Mexico on my annual trek to shoot birds. I'm not sure if the first post from this location should be about a scenic with nary a bird insight. Well, that's pretty much what's going on.
Compared to a couple years ago, Lesser Prairie Chicken numbers are at record lows. The continual stress of the drought and last years big fires seemed to have been followed up with very low numbers on the leks this year. Note, I'm not saying those things are direct cause of their decline because I'm not that qualified guy to say it. I'm just pointing out the circumstances.
As bad as it is this year there are still birds. I had a good session in the morning on one of my favorite leks. We'll be using it for my workshop that starts this evening. But, my other lek... well... I was counting on the one this particular image was shot. It's may all time favorite natural looking lek. I even had one of my top 10 favorite shooting occasions on this lek just three years ago during an epic raining storm. My client called me at 430 in the morning while the rain pounded the trailer. "Are we still shooting". "Of course we are". Turned into one of my favorite sessions. Fast forward three years to 2012 and we have this. It looks awesome, this rain cloud but is it bringing rain? According to local experts that live for the weather--i.e. ranchers--it's rained a total of 0.25 inches since the beginning of the year. Geez.
Well, I got on this lek last night hoping for the best when none of it happened. The two birds flushed when I approached. They never came back. By sunset I was reduced to shooting the clouds as you can see here.
The worse was this morning I went back to the lek and of course I flushed the birds again in the middle of the night. This time, unlike most times, they didn't come back. They gathered behind me about 20 yards stomping and yelping and hollering. Me? I was pointing towards the wrong way wondering how I'm going to run this workshop.
Well, sitting here I have a couple lessons that will be helpful for the festival this weekend. We're a week later and therefore need to be going 15 minutes earlier to beat the birds.
As for what I'm planning? Well, I have a plan which is more than I thought this morning as I was staring at my lek of nothing hearing the birds laugh their rears off behind me. I have a plan. I'll tell you how it goes after tomorrow.