Black Grouse lek photography in Kuusamo
The best time to photograph lekking Black Grouse in Kuusamo is from April until late May. When spring days are getting longer in April, male Black Grouse begin their lekking. There is usually still plenty of snow on the ground when lekking starts, by the mid-May the snow is usually gone. In mid May females usually arrive to visit the lekking grounds. At one of our lek sites in spring 2008 were more than 10 male Black Grouse displaying. The spot is situated in the middle of the trotting course. It is very open place, and the first sunlight of the day reaches the lekking birds – so we have the best possible chances to get nice photographs of Black Grouse. Other lek site is frozen small lake (like in Oulu) and this site is excellent for backlit shots! Spring 2008 there were about 10 males lekking. Black Grouse lek normally continues 3- 4 hours after sunrise.
At the Black Grouse lek we will use canvas hides and comfortable chairs or mattresses and warm sleeping bags. Hides will be put up beforehand, so when you will arrive birds have got use to them and birds will be lekking just in front of hides. There will be birds so close that it would be possible to photograph them sometimes even with a wide angle lens, but probably the most suitable lenses would be 300 mm and 70- 200 mm zoom. 500 mm lens can be used as well.
Black Grouse males arrive to the lekking ground around sunrise. To avoid disturbing the birds we need to arrive to the hides well before sunrise. Walk to the hides depends on a site, but will be average 200m. Wellingtons are needed and will be provided.
Main target will be lekking male Black Grouse. There are also good chances for flight shots and shots of fighting males. Also female Black Grouse often visit the lek sites. Mating usually happens in first or second week of May. There are occasional chances to photograph Snow Buntings from the grouse hide as well.
Other bird species which can be photographable during this time of the year in Kuusamo are White-tailed Sea Eagle, Golden Eagle, Tengmalm´s Owl, Hawk Owl, Siberian Tit Siberian Jay etc. Hazel Grouse, Capercaillie and Willow Grouse are possible also. From late April there are good possibilities for Cranes, Smew, Bean Geese, Whooper Swan and several duck species.
Black Grouse lek photography from early April until late May
Lenses and tripod
For shots of two lekking males 70- 200 mm or 300 mm lens is ideal, but for close up portraits 500 mm lens can be better. Converters can be used as well.
There is no need to bring your own tripod. You can borrow tripod or ground pod from us. However, please bring your own tripod head with you. Also bean bags can be borrowed here.
Suggested itinerary for Black Grouse photography in Kuusamo
Day 1 Arrival in Kuusamo. Meet Finnature guide at the airport. Transfer to the accommodation. Evening photography excursion for possible species, which might include some of our special owl species and elk.
Day 2- 5 Four mornings photography at Black Grouse lek. During the day there will be time to have some rest and /or do some photography locally. Other bird species which can be photographable during this time of the year in Kuusamo are White-tailed Sea Eagle, Golden Eagle, Tengmalm´s Owl, Hawk Owl, Siberian Tit, Siberian Jay Snow Bunting etc. Hazel Grouse, Capercaillie and Willow Grouse are also possible. From late April there are good possibilities for Cranes, Smew, Bean Geese, Whooper Swan and several duck species.
Day 6 After the last morning in hide there will be time to photograph other species missed earlier. Transfer to Kuusamo airport to catch your homeward flight.
Please notice that lekking Black Grouse are also possible to photograph during our Smew- photography workshops in Kuusamo later in May!
Transportation Kuusamo airport – Kuusamo region – Kuusamo airport
Finnature guide services throughout the trip
4 mornings at Black Grouse lek in two different lek sites
Daytime other photography in Kuusamo region.
Accommodation in clean and comfortable lodge for 5 nights with breakfast.
Min 4 and max 6 persons.
Reasonable fitness is required. One need to be prepared to sit 4-5 hours in tent hide every morning. Please notice that in April and May days are long and photography days may last max 10 hours.
Fairly warm clothing is essential. Warm hat and cloves are needed. Waterproof hiking boots are recommended. (We will provide you Wellingtons if needed and warm sleeping bag for the hide).
Weather in Kuusamo
Late March: Temperature can get as low as – 15 – 20 Centigrade in nights, but
daytime temperature is usually between -5 – 10 Centigrade. If there is rain, it should be snow, which looks nice in photos. There should be some snow cover on the ground.
April: Temperature can get as low as – 10 Centigrade in nights, but daytime temperature is usually between -5 – +10 Centigrade. If there is rain, it is always snow. There is lot of snow (50-80cm) on the ground in Kuusamo in April.
May: Temperature can still get as low as – 5 Centigrade in nights, but daytime temperature is usually between +5 – + 10 Centigrade. There should be some snow cover on the ground during the first/second week of May, but after that it usually melts away.
Flights to Kuusamo
Accommodation in Kuusamo region
Villa Smew is located in southeastern Kuusamo near the Russian border about 40 km from Kuusamo centre. Here you can feel the real wilderness of the taiga forest. The annual site Iivaara for Red-flanked Bluetail is very near. The log house Willa Smew was built 80 years ago but has been partly refurbished. There are 12 beds in two separate bed rooms.
You can read a article about “How to photograph lekking Black Grouse” or find out information about Finnature’s Black Grouse lek photography workshops.
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