Similar to last year’s season, Chugwater lek seems to be advanced by a few days compared with our two other focal leks (Monument and Preacher). Bird numbers have been reasonable for a few days, so we took advantage of a warm afternoon to set up our grid of stakes. Before starting the installation, I ran a few changes by Mary, our technician from last year and current Chugwater tape watcher back in Davis. She agreed on a few minor modifications from our otherwise excellently layed-out grid from 2011. First, we had tried to make one of the rows exactly straight on as viewed from the overlook hill. Straight girds make for easy observation, right? This turned out not to be the best idea, since it became extremely difficult to judge distance back-to-front on the grid. This year we slanted the middle row of stakes a little more, so they weren’t one immediately behind the other when viewed from the hill. The other two modifications involved shifting the stakes left and up-lek to try to make sure we could see the important ones better. We haven’t started taking video yet, but we hope these improvements will make reading positions easier both in the field and from the video. Always nice to learn something as we go on this project!
Grid installation day was EXTREMELY muddy- we all felt bad for our boots after that day.
We made another improvement- this time more by necessity than choice. Last year we constructed a short bridge over a gully so we could more easily carry gear up to the lek. This gully had evidently grown somewhat since last year, and our bridge barely fit (and where it did fit, it still left some quite slippery areas). Liz (on this years crew) led the effort to lengthen the bridge.