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Sunday, 25 April 2010

Black Grouse bonanza.

Black Grouse territory.
Road to nowhere.
Strutting their stuff.

Wings outstretched,heads down and tails up!

Battling Blackcocks!

The icing on the cake!

He was away rapidly!
Usually an early start is needed to have any chance of seeing a Black Grouse Lek, where the handsome males strut their stuff and display to the onlooking females or Grey Hens as they are more commonly called,so it was a real bonus to watch this unfold late one afternoon,high up in the North Pennines moors.
We had planned to drive around the wild moorland roads in the hope of seeing one or two of these birds feeding or perhaps sunbathing on one of the many drystone walls that litter the area.You have to be really lucky to get anywhere near Black Grouse as they are really easily spooked,unlike their cousin the Red Grouse whom I`m sure love posing for the camera.
Driving around with my accomplice Brian Rafferty, we were treated to close views of Wheatear/Lapwing a few Redshank some late returning Fieldfare and an absolutely fantastic view of a pair of Golden Plover right by the side of the road,which had Brian performing all sorts of contortionist moves to get on them with the camera from behind the steering wheel,I think I`ll have to rename him elastic man for his efforts!Bird of the day Brian exclaimed, they are harder to photograph than Black Grouse at such close proximity.I`ll post some images in a latter blog of the Plovers.
However it was Black Grouse we`d come to see and it wasn`t long before Brian spotted one about 30 yds away down by the stream.Foolishly we left the sanctuary of the car to get into position and he was away at a rapid rate of knots,boy are they wary.We carried on driving round scanning the moorland and came across one in a small plantation,but he wouldn`t come out of the long rushes.Returning back to the main leking area we instantly found a group of about 5 males all feeding quietly on the vegitation.Result!We took a few pictures,but they were all rather distant.Lower down the road, Brian again picked a bird up quite closer, maybe 50 yds away, ah a bit better for the portfolio. Heading back up the road the five or so males were now in full flow on the dance floor, what a stroke of luck so late in the day.With wings outstretched and tail feathers displaying, we watched in awe as they challenged one another to do battle,squaring up to each other and emitting their distinctive warbling sounds.A good few pictures were taken of the event before we decided to call it a day!Back towards the bottom of the road and no less than 15 yds away a lone male black grouse stood waiting to wave us good bye,it was my turn to perform the contortionist tricks now, as I quickly reassembled my camera.Talk about the icing on the cake, we both couldn`t believe it as we gladly made the most of the opportunity with the cameras.It really was a remarkable day and we both decided to return latter on in the year when the flowers will be in full bloom.I hope you enjoy the account of our encounter with the Black Grouse of Upper Teesdale,we certainly did and set amidst the most fantastic scenery imaginable!


  1. Another smashing series. Nearest I have got is the whiskey.

  2. Days like that become memories of a lifetime.
    And pictures too. A real bonus.

  3. Paul. A super account of our wonderful day out in the Northern Pennines. One I hope we can repeat, as it was such a memorable experience, and maybe next time we may get much closer to the lek!!
    Great images but we can do better can't we ?? Thanks for your company and expertise in locating our quarry. Here's to our next adventure. Elastic Man !!