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Stop 12: Unit 104, Black Kettle Grassland

Directions: Return towards town for 1.4 miles to the signed entrance gate on the left. The sign is small and easily missed.

The grassland is a transition area between mixed shortgrass and Doxy Shale prairie. The unpaved road leading into the unit is gentle on passenger vehicles except after heavy rains. The tract covers 1500 acres and the road leads directly back into the town of Cheyenne, where it connects with the school and a constructed wetland. Thick and luxuriant indiangrass mark this tract's excellent range condition, as does little bluestem, sideoats grama, and buffalo grass. Ponds and creekbottoms visible from the road can be reached on horseback or on foot, and provide a number of excellent photographic and wildlife watching opportunities. Hackberry and elm along the draws provide cover and food for birds, as do the willow thickets that line the pond banks. Winter is especially good for grassland sparrows such as Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, and Dark-eyed Junco. Check carefully as well for the commoner Lapland Longspurs, and harder to find McCown's and Chestnut-sided longspurs.

The wetland, or "Marsh-o-Muck" as it was named by an imaginative high school student, lies through the westernmost gate on the edge of the unit. Although usually dry, the boardwalk is worth traversing in search of the phoebes, woodpeckers, and occasional migrant songbirds that move through in spring and fall.

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