Prairie Chickens and a Moose 5/2/17

May 02, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

I wanted to go to Crookston, MN to photograph the colorful prairie chickens doing their mating ritual displays. I called the Crookston chamber of commerce  and reserved a blind located on a lek (mating ground) in NW MN. Glacial Wildlife Refuge. I was told that I would be sent directions to the lek.  I would have to walk a mile in the dark on a very wet (three small streams of water) trail in the dark! I went to locate the site the day before I would go there. I got lost- during the day! I walked up a ridge to look out and finally saw the blind. 

The next morning I set off at 04:30, muck boots on, flashlight in hand ( to follow reflectors) and camera gear. As I walked, I flushed up ducks, it was that wet. I just hoped that I didn't sink too deep and ruin my camera gear. I finally made it to the lek. I told myself that the hike was better than sitting at home watching TV.

I was so quiet; I could hear the prairie chickens making a deep, loud sound. Since the trail was so wet, I abandoned my plan to use my Canon 600mm lens mounted on a tripod with flash bracket and flash. Instead I would have to use my  easier to carry Canon 400mm f/4 lens. At the last minute I remember that I had a flash bracket for it. Once in the dark blind, I could not get the flash head onto the bracket. Damn! I tried ten times. Later, in my hotel room where there was some light, I got the flash attached on the first try. So now I would have to wait until it was quite light before I got decent shots.

I watched the prairie chickens move around about 30 feet in front of the blind. I watched the males repeatedly raise their neck feathers above their heads and inflate their orange throat sacs. I got some good shots, but nothing great. As I watched the prairie chickens, a moose trotted past. A moose, unbelievable!

I will go back next year to a different lek where I don't have to walk so far.


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