Archive complete

It’s done: all biIt’s done: all bird species of the Western Palearctic that I photographed until December 2016 are in the online archive. Finally I added photos of one of my favourite groups – the Grouses. All birds of this group are hard to find and hard to observe – so every encounter is an adventure.

Black Grouse (Lyrurus tetrix ssp. tetrix) adult female well hiding behind a trunk. Ural Mountains, Russia, 16.06.2016

I have spent many hours finding them, watching them, approaching them without disturbing them and finally photographing them. Some of them live in the densest thicket like the hazel grouse and it is easy to understand that they are hardly observable.

Hazel Grouse (Bonasa bonasia ssp. volgensis), motionless hiding in a tree. Bialowieza, Poland, adult male

Other species of the family are found in the open like the Ptarmigan. However, they live in the high montane regions and, thanks to their camouflage, it takes a long time to discover them in winter.

Rock Ptarmigan 8Lagopus muta ssp. helvetica), Germany, adult male, winter plumage

They sometimes dig themselve into the snow for resting and all you see later are their tracks.

Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta ssp. helvetica), track coming from the left. It dug into the snow for resting and later walked further to the back

But as soon as you are rewarded with a real encounter, you know it was worth the effort.

Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus muta ssp. helvetica) jumping adult male, 28.12.2013, Germany
Western Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus ssp. crassirostris), Germany, adult male, displaying
Black Grouse (Lyrurus tetrix ssp. tetrix), Germany, adult male
Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica), Great Britain, winter group
Willow Grouse (Lagopus lagopus ssp. koreni), Russia (Ural), adult male hiding behind a bush
Hazel Grouse(Bonasa bonasia ssp. volgensis), adult male. An extremely lucky moment, in which the Hazel Grouse perched on this truck. Bialowieza, Poland, 24.04.2014
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BWE: Photographing the elusive Hazel Grouse

Did you ever try to find a Hazel Grouse? Probably not… I can tell stories about this search – it is one of the most difficult birds to find in Middle Europe! If you just want to watch the bird for some seconds, you should schedule some days – and there is no guaranty that it works.

I already tried it in 2010 for five days in the Bavarian Forest – but I just got poor photos.

As I like Grouses I tried once more to photograph them. In April, I was lucky enough to finally get photos of a Hazel Grouse pair in Poland.

The cock has a very strange song. I took sound recordings of the bird in the photographs – if you want to listen to it, click here. It is the high whistling – you will recognize it!

BWE: Photographing the elusive Hazel Grouse