Powder snow showers in the air as the boistering Black Grouse cocks measure their strength against each other, with no mercy given or asked for. The backlit lekking cocks against a dark forest background give opportunities for unique shots from the hides, which allow also low angle photography on almost ground level. In the morning, 10-15 cocks and some female birds visit the lekking site, with the closest running between the hides as the older cocks chase the younger ones off the center of the lekking area.
The hides are located at the fields where Black Grouse has their lekking site. Lek starts at the end of the March (depends on the spring) with fights of the cocks and continuing throughout April. At the end of April and early May, when the snow melts, the females come to the edge of the lek site; and in early May, there is a ”female week” whereby the winner of the lek will be awarded.
Hide information: There are three professional hides with a capacity of 7 photographers at the same time and two low angle hides (capacity 3 persons), which allow to photograph almost at the ground level. There is one shooting hole per person. Of course, if the hides are not full, a photographer can use more than one. Cameras can be attached on tripod heads, which are tightened on a wooden plank. Tripods cannot be used. Low angle hides includes sleeping bags, soft mattresses and beanbags. There are no toilets inside of these hides.
Photo session: It lasts from 3 to 5 hours. The males usually arrive on the lekking site at dawn, so it must reach the hiding place one hour before sunrise. Lek is normally over between 8 am and 9 am, and it is the time when we must leave from the hides. During the photographing session is not allowed to come out of the hide, because Black Grouse lek can be disturbed.
Location: 45 minutes by car from the centre of Kuusamo and 100 meter walk to the hide.
Weather: Early spring in Kuusamo can still be quite cold, with temperatures dropping below zero during nighttime. Sometimes you can get very heavy snow showers even in early May.
Clothing: Warm winter boots and jacket recommended. In case you don’t have your own, we can borrow you proper boots and warm winter overalls.
Heating: Gel fuel heater and candles
Distance to subjects: at closest 5-10 meters, but usually 20-30 meters.
Recommended lenses: 70-200/300mm for birds on landscapes shots, 300-600mm for portraits
Mobile phone coverage: Yes
Prices: 130 euros/person/day. The first photographing session requires an orientation of how to handle with everything in there. It has a cost of 100 euros/group.