Project Description

Come experience one of the finest events in the bird world. The Capercaillie lek feels utterly primal; it’s an exhilarating performance that nature photographers want to repeat every spring!

A Capercaillie lek is a unique experience. As the evening dims, the Capercaillies start arriving into the trees at the lekking site for the night. Often the lekking starts as early as midnight in the near darkness, when Capercaillies start their display rituals in the woods. At times, they display in their own patches in the forest, at other times they chase each other, running competitors off and away from their territory. The pace and tension will accelerate with the arrival of females at the beginning of May. Eventually, the strongest male will mate with the females during the Female Week, which tends to fall on the second week of May in the Kuusamo area, depending on how the spring advances.

THREE LOCATIONS AND MULTIPLE POSSIBILITIES FOR GREAT IMAGES

You will have the opportunity to photograph lekking Capercaillies in three different locations. In a beautiful patch of a dense old forest, where the centre of the lek is often in a small patch and the birds at close range, and in the more open groves of a commercial woods, where photography is easier in an open environment. See more about photography locations >>

We offer high-quality hides specifically designed for Capercaillie leks. You can observe and shoot with visibility at almost 360 degrees. The Capercaillies move widely around the lek site. See pictures of the hides >>

3 to 5 male Capercaillies come to each of the three lekking sites every year. The females start appearing along the edges of the lekking site in late April. Males lek until the end of May.

ABOUT THE HIDES

There is a total of eight single hides and two double hides, and three different photography locations. Most of the photography is done at sitting level, but some of the hides have a lens hole on ground level. The hides are all slightly different, and positioned strategically on the site. If you have special needs requirements for the hide, please let us know when booking.

Total capacity: 14 people

Equipment:

  • Each hide has 4 to 6 lens holes and you can photograph at almost 360 degrees
  • Bring your own tripod head/video head to fix your camera onto a wooden shelf or a heavy, moveable metal plate in the hide. Note: Tripods cannot be used
  • You can also use a bean bag
  • There are no toilets in the hides. We provide a portable travel urinal
  • Each hide has a gel heater

Photography season: 20 April to 20 May
Photography session: 12 to 14 hours (overnighting in the hide)
Location:  All locations are a 20-min-drive (20 km) from Kuusamo. Walking distances to the hides vary between 100 and 1,000 metres.

Price for independent photography session: 170 € / photographer / day
Price (briefing included): 220 € / photographer/ day

Extra services:

  • Guiding services 400 € / day
  • Snowmobile transport 50 € / one-way / photographer
  • If you wish to secure a private hide at the time of booking, an additional charge of EUR 80 will apply
  • Briefing for first-time visitors 50 € / photographer, 100 € / group

CANCELLATION POLICY DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

If the customer is prevented from using the service they have booked due to the prevailing travel restrictions, they are entitled to a cancellation, in which case we will cancel the booking and refund the money excluding the 50€ handling and money transfer costs. Alternatively, the reservation can be transferred to another time at no cost. The reservation can also be changed to an open reservation, in which case the payment will be used for a new reservation up to one year from the original date of the reservation.

Good to know (FAQ)

Do I need briefing?

Briefing is mandatory for all photographers with no previous experience in photographing Capercaillies from a photography hide. The briefing, carried out by a professional guide, includes valuable photography tips: how to work in the hide, how to use the heater, how to interpret the behavior of the birds, how to check the backgrounds, etc. This information will significantly improve first-time results.

Do I have the hide for myself? 

Most of the hides are single hides, the double hides can be booked for couples or between friends. If you want a private hide, or a photography session for your group only, it’s available at an additional cost.

What time of the year can you shoot?

The Capercaillie lek lasts for about a month from 20 April to 20 May depending on the progress of the spring and the start of the lek. Male Capercaillies can often be photographed in the area until the end of May.

How long does one photography session last?

The photography session lasts 12 to 14 hours and includes an overnight stay in the hide. You will go to the hide in the evening before sunset, and the session will end at around 8 in the morning. During the session, do not come out of the hide, as movement outside the hides will frighten the birds away. During the Female Week, lek can continue for longer in the morning.

What kind of clothing do I need for the photography hide?

Nights can be cold in the spring, and we recommend warm winter clothes such as wool socks, gloves, a hat and thermal layers, with winter boots and jacket. Each hide has a gel heater but even so, warm clothes are a must. You should also bring a warm sleeping bag. If you do not have your own, we have warm boots and winter overalls that you can rent.

What is the distance to the birds, and what kind of lens and equipment do I need to take with me?

Each photography location is a little different. At our location in the old forest, the distance to the birds varies from 10 to 30 metres, making short lenses such as 100-400mm zoom lenses or 300-400mm fixed lenses often the most practical option. Long 500mm and 600mm telephoto lenses may be too long in a dense forest. In hides located in the more open commercial forest, long telephoto lenses are practical because the distances to birds range from 20 to 50 metres. We recommend 100-600mm zoom lenses or 300-600mm telephoto lenses + extenders (optional). For pictures of birds in the landscape, it’s possible to use shorter lenses, for example 70-200mm.

Capercaillie hide booking calender – make booking

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Price: 170 euros/person/day.
Additional services:

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INQUIRIES AND BOOKINGS

Olli Lamminsalo ja Mikko Oivukka
info@kuusamonaturephotography.fi

Check more photos taken from the hides at our:  Flickr -gallery

CHECK ALL OUR PHOTOGRAPHY POSSIBILITIES HERE!