Five northern Grouse of Finland
Northern Grouse species are truly fascinating birds. Especially their interesting lek behaviors are extremely photogenic. Finland has good populations of five northern Grouse species – Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Hazel Grouse, Willow Grouse and Rock Ptarmigan. They all can be photographed during Finnature’s tours.
Black Grouse is a common and social Grouse in Finland. Most times, more than one bird is seen. The most remarkable gathering is in spring: the lek. Black Grouse gather in open areas – bogs, fields, sometimes even on ice – and dance, give bubbling echoing calls and spread their lyre-shaped tails for the females to see. The lek is filled with action! Snow powders in the lekking arena as the cocks measure each other fiercely and try to kick and hit each other as much as they can.
The best time and way to photograph Black Grouse is during their lekking period in spring and again in autumn using photography hides. For this, we have set up hides in a lekking arena to allow for photography at close range. Black Grouse start their spring lek in mid March and continue until mid/late May. Snow provides a great setting for fighting cocks! Snow melts usually around late April-early May.
Black Grouse has also another lek season in September. Autumn lek is not as intense as in spring but the vibrant autumn colors create an interesting setting for photography.
See more photos of the fierce lekking activity and more about the hides at our Flickr gallery for Black Grouse hides.
Western Capercaillie is the largest Grouse in the world and truly a remarkable sight. Beyond doubt, the atmosphere at a Capercaillie lek must be somehow primitive. The lek lies in an open coniferous forest and intensifies as the spring moves forward. During lek, the large cocks strut endlessly around the forest floor in a display posture. Every now and then, they jump and their wingbeats make loud sound to get the hens’ attention – what an experience!
To photograph a Capercaillie lek, photography hides are needed. Capercaillies are extremely shy birds and therefore entry to the hides is already in the previous evening to be ready in the front seat for the morning action. They have traditional lek sites where males gather but sometimes these lek sites might move to another spot. We use transportable hides and local partner’s hides for Capercaillie lek photography. Lek starts in late April and is usually over by mid-May. Many of Finnature’s scheduled photography tours include Capercaillie photography. Occasionally Capercaillies can be photographed during winter tours as well.
Hazel Grouse is a common yet very elusive Grouse living in dense Finnish forests. Most often, its most peculiar call gives away this gorgeous small Grouse. A high-pitch whistle will draw anyone’s attention to the beautiful chestnut flanks and dappled grey markings of this bird. Hazel Grouse live in pairs and are very territorial: a whistle produces an answer most of the times when given during spring and autumn.
During summer, Hazel Grouse are hiding with their broods. During winter they are focused in surviving the harsh conditions. The best time to photograph Hazel Grouse is in the spring along the roadsides by using a car as a photography hide.
Willow Grouse is a fun bird: its call is one of a kind and makes you smile – we guarantee! Willow Grouse are fairly common in northern Finland and react to call nicely. With Finnature it can be photographed in Kuusamo and in Lapland, especially during the display time in spring, but occasionally during winter tours as well.
Rock Ptarmigan is a truly arctic bird. Surely, it occupies the barren fell tops in northern Finland and Norway and is well adapted to the harsh surroundings of the north. The camouflage of Rock Ptarmigan is exceptionally good: in summer, it is dappled with grey and brown, and in winter, it is pure snow-white – exactly the colors of its changing habitat.
The croaking call reveals the whereabouts of the Ptarmigan for tundra dwellers. Rock Ptarmigans can be photographed during the display period in spring and summer.
Get inspired by Grouse photography at our Flickr gallery of Finnish Grouse Species!