A Morning with the Sharp-tailed Grouse

As you know, I thoroughly enjoy my wildlife photography and this is one of my highlights in spring. I gather up all my gear, get to the blind way before the sun comes up at 4:00am, full of anticipation of what I’m about to witness. Cameras on tripods, headlamp turned off, in complete darkness, suddenly I hear the rush of wings. Could that be them? I hear putting and purring like sounds. Just a glint of light now and hopes high, my eyes fixate on movement in front of the blind. There they are! Sun is now finally coming up and I see pairs of Sharp-Tails in front of me on the frost covered Lek. In what seems to be a perfectly choreographed dance, they all start twirling, heads lowered, feet stomping. They all start together and then all freeze at once. I quietly and carefully aim my camera at one in hopes of capturing that perfect shot, checking my camera settings as the light is ever changing as the Sun comes up. They start again and the shutter goes crazy. Feeling good that I’ve gotten good shots, suddenly the entire Lek empties. I’m heartbroken thinking I’ve done something wrong to alert the group. They’re gone. Just as I start to think the shoot is over, they all fly back and start the routine again. Hours pass like minutes. Cards full of images, they leave for good now. I leave the blind now tired, however filled with a feeling of accomplishment capturing yet again one of nature’s truly amazing spectacles. I’m so blessed by the opportunity. For more information about this shoot please feel to contact me directly at 612 508 0940, email [email protected], see the images at our Hayward gallery, on line at jamesnetz.com or friends of Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area http://www.fnbwa.org.

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