Black grouse in winter conditions
Photograph and experience the impressive courtship display of the black grouse on one of the best lekking sites of the country. An event described here in Norway as the biggest adventure of the spring. During this trip, there still is plenty of snow on the lek.
Photographing black grouse
You will be brought to the hides in the late evening. The hides are 2x2 meter, which offers enough space to sleep comfortably. Sleeping mats are provided and warm sleeping bags can be rented on location. You will sleep in the tent until you get woken up by the black grouse arriving on the display area (somewhere around 5:00). The birds will stay in front of the photo tents until somewhere between 8:00 and 10:00. You have to stay in the hides until the guide will pick you up after the birds have left.
Depending on the population size, there will be between 15 and 35 males displaying on the lek. Females visit regularly already in April and will be there daily from about the 20th of April. The actual mating happens by the end of April / start of May. The birds will display on various distances from the hides, which means that you can photograph them with a wide range of lenses. As longest lens, anything from 400mm up to 800mm will work. The birds are used to the hides and are not that shy. During the photography session you can easily change lenses. As long as you remain quiet.
We work with tents so that we can easily pick the best photo spots. On the black grouse lek, the tents allow you to put your lens at any height between 0 and 80cm above the ground. This will allow you to pick an high angle in order to get the ground as background or an extreme low angle in order to get those intense low angle shots which you need for photographing with back light. Some of the hides are positioned with the rising sun in the back and others are positioned facing towards the sunrise. This is perfect for making those special back light pictures!
There are no toilets in the hides. You will have to bring a pee bottle with you. For the ladies, we advise to use a "Travel John" urinal.
Getting to the hides
Depending on the amount of snow, it takes about a 15 minute hike to the lek. We will walk through flat terrain. Snow shoes are provided for you.
Day 1. Pick up at Oslo Gardermoen airport. The guide will bring you to your accommodation and will give you a short introduction for the coming days. Dinner is at 17:00 and is included in the price. In the evening you will be brought to the lek where you will spend the night in the hide.
Day 2 & 3. In the early morning you will photograph the black grouse. After the lekking is done, you will be picked up by the guide. You have to stay in the hide until the guide is on the lek, to make sure that the birds do not become afraid of the hides. Back at the accommodation you eat breakfast, back up your images of the morning, catch some sleep or photograph around the accommodation. There are bird feeders next to the apartments and the Rena River is just a few hundred meters away. Here you can find whooper swans, golden eyes, cranes, goosanders and dippers. Dinner is served at 17:00. In the evening it is time to head out again to the black grouse lek.
Day 4. You will have the last photo session on the lek. After breakfast you will be brought back to Oslo Gardermoen airport for you flight home.
Please contact us for inquiries for other dates and other questions.
Or fill in the booking form below.
Accommodation: Cozy twin room apartments, with own bathroom, kitchen and living room.
Breakfast, lunch and diners.
Transport: All local transport, including the pick-up and drop off at Oslo Gardermoen airport.
Tips for photographing on the lek.
3 morning photo sessions in a private hide.
Single rooms: 2100,- NOK extra
Price does not include
Flights to and from Oslo Gardermoen airport
Alcoholic beverages and snacks
Sleeping bag rental. Sleeping bags can be rented for 250,- NOK per 3 days
The birds display on various distances from the hides. On a full frame body a 300mm, 400mm or 500mm will be the best choice. On a crop body a 200mm would do the job as well. Some birds might come very close (1-2 meter), so an additional shorter lens such as a 70-200mm or a 100-400mm can come in handy.
Additionally you should bring:
Plenty of memory cards
Plenty of batteries
Pee bottle (for the ladies we advise to use a "Travel John" urinal.
The temperature around this time of the year can still vary a lot. Bring plenty of layers so you can dress accordingly. On day time it can be somewhere between -5 and +15 degrees Celsius, but at night the temperature will most likely drop below 0 degrees. Expect the temperature to be around -10 degrees Celsius at night.
To get to the hides, we have to walk for about 15 minutes. Don't dress too warm for during the walk.
List of clothing:
Thin gloves for photographing
Warm thick (woolen) sweater
Snow boots or isolated mountain boots
I have been on a number of Floris's trips over the last few years to photograph Capercaillie and Black Grouse. Floris is a great host who goes out of his way to ensure that I always have the best opportunities to photograph the elusive Capercaillie and feisty Black Grouse. Floris always prioritizes his guests first and foremost and I now consider Floris a good friend rather than just a photography guide. As a bonus, Floris is great cook and always makes sure his guests are well fed.
My highlight of each visit has been to see the Capercaillie and their bizarre lekking rituals. And no trip would be complete without meeting the very charismatic Funky (Floris's dog).