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Thursday, 24 June 2010

Black Grouse spectacle!!

Fighting Blackcocks.

Trying to gain an advantage.

Traces of frost still evident !

A trully fine individuall!

A threating posture.

Full display mode.
Last month I was very fortunate to accompany a couple of friends to a Black Grouse lek in the north Pennines!It gave me the chance to get `up close and personal` with these enigmatic birds!Unfortunately the last two winters and wet Springs, had really decimated the numbers of these moorland birds.In fact recent surveys showed there being only 425 out of 750 birds left from the Pennine range!
At 3.00am we were walking down the moorland towards the hide that had previously been set up.The temp was a mere -5 degree celsius, but with clear cold nights usually comes glorious dawns,perfect for photography!
Literally within minutes of settling in,the first of the Black Grouse made its self known by its hissing wheezing battlecry.The light was nowhere near good enough for taking pictures, so we just sat there taking in the atmosphere and dawn chorus of the moorland birds.Everything was beginning to wake up,Redshank piped,Curlews called all around,Snipe were beginning to drum and call, but most of all the Black Grouse numbers were increasing all around us.The noise coming from these birds as they began their courtship was absolutely captivating.The drama was beginning to unfold less than 10 metres away,some birds walked to within 4 metres giving us awesome views.They would square up to one another and front each other out,each trying to get the upper hand,their heads down,wings outstretched and beautiful tails fanned out wide.Actually there was only minimal contact made between the waring birds,but I put that down to there not being any females present .It was quite late in the season really and I think they were merely going through the the motions.
The light was beginning to appear now and I noticed some birds were actually covered in a thin layer of frost on their backs,such was the severity of the temps up on this bleak moorland.It all added to the splendour of the occasion and made for some fantastic close up shots.The small red eyebrows contrasting with the irridescent purple sheen on the neck and finishing off with the erect fanned out tail,black on one side ,white on the other.If any females or Greyhen, as they are more commonly called,would have been present, they couldn`t have failed to have been impressed by the display!
We observed this courtship for a good few hours before the birds gradually decided to disperse out onto the moorland to feed. We had been priveleged to witness this fantastic spectacle and although I cant convey the atmosphere,I will leave you with a few of my images taken on that glorious May morning high up on the moors in the North Pennines!!!!!

1 comment:

  1. Paul. Wonderful memories and magical moments captured on camera. What a morning we experienced on that very frosty dawn high up in the Northern Pennines. Look forward to a repeat performance sometime.