Lekking means the start of the breeding season
Lekking. That was the goal with the early morning.
I got picked up by Frode and Kenny shortly after 3:30 am this morning before we headed for Black Grouse territory with hopes of a good lek. Lekking is an aggregation of males that gather to engage in competitive displays that may entice females who are surveying prospective partners for copulation.
The lekking behavior of the Black Grouse is the traditional one where males are in visual and auditory range of their neighbors. This means there can be fighting between males and that is of course one of the pictures you want from a lek.
We arrived on site in time to put up our hides on the lekking site. It was my first time there and the second for both Frode and Kenny.
Yesterday I made up my mind that I wanted low angle photos of the lek and that meant I had to photo through the entrance of my hide. This turned out to be a bad choice as I had placed the hide on a spot that was too far from the lek and also had small twigs in the way for the few birds that I had in front of the hide.
It is always a gamble where you put your hide as you don´t know exactly where the Black Grouse will gather. Still I think I got a couple of decent photos and if I had been 20 meter closer, then I think I would have had come home with great material.
My bad choice made it hard to get any pictures of the lekking birds, but I surely couldn´t just give up. Instead I made up my mind and started focusing on pictures in which I included more habitat.
This picture clearly represents what I aimed for instead of trying to document the competitive part of a lek.
The Black Grouse is just a small part of the frame. In this picture I wanted to capture the sun rays hitting the upper parts of the trees before the complete field would be sun-drenched. I think there is a great mood in the picture and maybe this Black Grouse is sitting there waiting for the warm sun rays before it starts to lek with the other males.
I think I gave it a good try and I hope to go back in the coming weeks. This is probably just the start of the lekking season as I didn´t see any females. I also felt that the activity wasn´t that intense and I suspect that the tempo will be higher when the female arrives.
We didn´t call it a day after the lek. Instead, we headed towards Lake Hornborga and the Common Crane gathering there. I wont write about that part of the day, but you can see photos from both the Black Grouse lek and from Lake Hornborga in the gallery.