Today was the start of the Black Grouse lek season for me
The start of this photo year has been slow for me. Many things have hindered me from coming out and my main combatant has been the poor weather, but today felt like a new start for me and hopefully this year will accelerate from now on.
I started this day by waking up too early. That is almost always the case when I know that I have to be somewhere at a specific place. It is of utmost importance to be on site before sunrise when you want to take photos of the lekking Black Grouse. If you get there to late, then the birds might already be on site or they might see you when you setup the hide resulting in no activity at all.
I have to bring everything with me for a lek like the one this morning as there isn’t a permanent hide to use. That means I need to bring a sturdy tripod with a gimbal head, a three legged camping chair, camping mattress, flashlight, a hide and of course something to eat. Often I actually eat when I am waiting for the lek to start, but not today as I woke up 30 minutes earlier than planned.
Most gear is self-explanatory, but I will go through the most important for me.
The early hour means I need the flashlight to locate the lek site and set up my gear before the birds arrive with the morning light. I use a headlight that I also can switch to red light which is a great feature as that type of light doesn’t seem to bother the wildlife.
I have two types of hides and I used both today. The main hide today was the Ameristep Doghouse Blind and then I used the bag hide from Wildlife Watching Supply to conceal the camera and tripod as they protruded out from the hide. The Doghouse Blind is a pop-up hide and it is up in just a couple of seconds, which is great in the dark. It is designed for hunters, but still it works for most types of photography.
The camera is setup on a Benro combo with a tripod and gimbal head both made out of carbon. It makes them light weight, which is great when you travel abroad.
It takes me around five minutes to set up everything before the wait start. Today I had to wait for 90 minutes before the birds arrived. It is early in the season, which is why I think they arrived later than the usually do. Sadly the lek was short-lived as something scared them off site, probably a car with a twitcher that appeared just before they left, and that is why I just post six pictures.
Still I hope you will enjoy the gallery from today and bear in mind that this is just the start.