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Erlend Haarberg - Black Grouse, Sweden

April 17th, 2009 Posted in Northern Europe, Uncategorized

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My second mission for Wild Wonders of Europe did not send me far from my home land. I look at Sweden as my second home country, with beautiful natural surroundings. This time I came here to take pictures of displaying black grouse and capercaillie in the region called Bergslagen, and thanks to a nice black grouse lek I visited and several wonderful sunrises, mission part 1. is already completed.

After a long winter with a lot of snow, spring came later than usual in Bergslagen. When we (my wife, Orsolya, and I) arrived in the beginning of April, extensive snow patches covered the forest floor, and most lakes were frozen. The staff of Nordic Safari, who support Wild Wonders of Europe by giving us a free run of the use of their hiding tents for watching the black grouse, has set up their tents on a wet bog, where a dozen of male grouses put on a display each morning from late March to early May. This year 13 males are playing in this area, which is, unfortunately, only half the amount of last year’s population.

I do not know of many things that would make me feel better than staying overnight in a hiding tent with birdsongs in the air. When it is still too dark for photography, I just lie in my sleeping bag and listen to all the sounds that spring has brought along. The symphony orchestra of the forest is broadening every single day with a new instrument, as the migrating bird species arrive back to their nesting areas and fill the forest with the sound of life. In the dark hours, the hornlike sound of the cranes breaks the silence, and then at 5 o’clock in the morning, nature awakens to the echoing concert of the black grouse, starting suddenly out of nowhere.

Through countless generations, black grouse have been gathering in traditional areas every single year to complete their odd courtship ritual. Sitting in a hiding tent in the middle of their playing ground, bizarre sounds can be heard from all directions: bubbling, “hussh”-ing and other strange noises. Every male is displaying in a small territory in the lekking area, and there are often fights between the owners of the neighbouring territories.

The goal of the game is to fight for the most central territory that will be visited by the females later in April for mating. The display of the males lasts until 8 or 9 o’clock in the morning and stops as sudden as it started a few hours earlier.

No morning is like another. So far we have had clear sky, rain, fog or simply cloudy weather. Unfortunately it is not only us visiting the lek. On the second morning a goshawk landed on a treetop a few metres from the hide, after an unsuccessful attack on one of the grouses. I can only hope that next time he will not choose my favourite grouse to fill his empty stomach with…

After the morning photography, a wonderful experience itself, we are introduced to some  great culinary experiences in Bergslagen. Hellen & Thomas Sundqvist, the owners of the Ulvsbomuren wilderness lodge, serve us some amazing food every single day. Most of the raw ingredients are collected from the local forest: wild meat, berries, mushrooms, used to great effect to create some wonderful dishes, something we have never experienced before and never expected during our fieldwork. Thank you Hellen and Thomas, we really appreciate your work!

Erlend Haarberg / Wild Wonders of Europe


Please note that blogs reflect our photographers' opinions and not necessarily those of the directors of Wild Wonders of Europe.

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  1. 21 Responses to “Erlend Haarberg - Black Grouse, Sweden”

  2. By Rako Alex on Apr 17, 2009

    Amazing pictures! Great job!

  3. By anders selland on Apr 18, 2009

    disse bildene her ble bare helt sinnsykt bra
    du er rett og slett rå

  4. By Ole Jørgen Liodden on Apr 19, 2009

    Always a pleasure to see your pictures!!

  5. By Staffan Widstrand on Apr 19, 2009

    I knew you were the right man also for this mission! Great stuff and also very nice text. Your love of the Great Outdoors is exactly the kind of thing we want to spread the feeling of, all over Europe.
    I am happy you also liked the spectacular food at Ulvsbomuren - worth to go there for that alone. Everything else is a bonus!
    Good luck now with the capercaillies!

    Staffan

  6. By Jarl Johansson on Apr 19, 2009

    Great pictures! It was nice meeting you and your wife at Ulvsbomuren, at the lunch before we took of for our capercaillies watching last night. We were really happy to see these great birds close to our hiding tent and listen to all their different sounds.

  7. By Bridget Wijnberg on Apr 20, 2009

    Your symphony orchestra analogy is just beautiful. Makes me want to be out there in my sleeping bag too! :)

  8. By Bjørn on Apr 20, 2009

    Gnistrende gode bilder. Bildet av den enslige orren på den tåkelagte myra var helt rått!! We want more.

  9. By Martin Maegli on Apr 21, 2009

    Great pictures!I`m looking foreward to see more.

  10. By Andreas on Apr 22, 2009

    Hei dere! Ser ut som dere har det helt perfekt. Jeg gleder meg til første uka i mai for da har jeg fri og kan surre ute så mye jeg vil. Litt sent for leik da, men må nok forsøke ei natt like vel. Fantastisk bare å få være ute nå (det er det vel egentlig alltid hehe).

    Mvh Andreas

  11. By Bruno Boz on Apr 26, 2009

    I can’t resist to use your 4th photo as screensaver. It’s one of the best image of the blackgrouse I have ever seen. Well done!

  12. By Oda on Apr 27, 2009

    Fantastisk! These images are simply fabulous, especially the fourth one from the top.

    Må komme meg på leik så fort som mulig, jeg ble helt gira av å se disse bildene!

  13. By Lars Andreas Dybvik on May 5, 2009

    Glemte jo helt å si at det var strålende bilder da :). Liker spesielt de to øverste.

  14. By Peter Cairns on Jun 20, 2009

    I agree with Oda - the fourth one is a classic!

    Pete

  15. By marti on Jun 21, 2009

    Hello Erlend!
    It’s wonderful to see your pictures. I love them, especially the fourth photo. Thank you.

    Marti

  16. By judit rajnai on Jun 22, 2009

    Hello Erlend!
    Your photos are amazing! It was pleasure for me to see them! Thanks!

  17. By Gabi on Jun 23, 2009

    very beautiful pictures, congratulate! Zsolti / Gabi

  18. By Levente on Jun 30, 2009

    Szia Erlend!

    Great pictures, the secound one is the best. I think it’s a nice composition. Congratulation!

  19. By Thomas on Jul 6, 2009

    Happy to see all these beautiful pictures.
    Glad that all your hard work payed off…..

  20. By Michel d'Oultremont on Jul 9, 2009

    Magique de voir de telles images

  21. By Emil Danmo on Jul 21, 2009

    Very good shoots! My favourite must be the fourth one from above, nice bokeh and, well, it´s just perfect!

    Keep up the good work!

  22. By elio de stefani on Aug 10, 2010

    queste immagini sono MERAVIGLIOSE!!!
    la luce è fantastica!!!
    complimenti!!

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