What to Expect
In order to keep the schedule manageable this trip will be focused on the grouse. We will certainly be seeing other avian species along the way and we will try our best to make the most of the opportunities they present us with. However, we are do not intend to make this trip about building the largest species count, seeking out every bird possible. We hope this strategy will keep our guests fresh and able to make the most of the stars of the show.
We will start the trip in Denver and make our way around Colorado and then into Nebraska eventually ending up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma for flights home. We have arranged our schedule to give us two attempts at the leks for each of the four species of lekking grouse to insure against bad weather or any other unforeseen complication. We will make every effort to make the trip as comfortable as possible but do be warned that there will be a lot of time spent in the van driving from location to location.
The climate will range from what I would call comfortable (temperatures in the 70’s) to cold (sometimes temperatures have been below freezing with heavy snow falling). OK take that last statement with a grain of salt, the author of this text grew up in Houston, TX and doesn’t really know what cold or heavy show really is. In any case it is important to be prepared for cold weather and wind. I have also found it is very handy to have springs that can strap onto the bottom of my shoes as we might need to walk on icy ground that can be slippery.
The scenery tends to be pretty great on this trip so we will be open to stop and take a few landscape shots as we go if anyone shows interest in doing so.
This trip isn’t expected to be very physically demanding, most of the leks can be driven to in the van and we definitely don’t expect to be attempting any long hikes though we will at one point be walking around above 10,000’ or altitude. We expect the main challenge to be the long drives but again we always do our best to accommodate any leg stretching stops that our guests request; so don’t be shy.
In order for everyone to get the most out of this trip (photographically) we will limit this trip to four guests.
In terms of photographic equipment for this trip I have found that my 500mm f/4 lens mounted on an APS-c camera body such as the 7D mk2 or 80D works well for most of the lek photography. I have also used a 300mm f/2.8 lens because the dances start in the dark and it is difficult to wait to start taking photos for there to be enough light at f/4. What I found with the 300mm lens is that it was often not enough focal length. Having said that, we have had occasions when grouse were literally dancing on top of our blind. For that reason I also have found it handy to bring along a telephoto zoom lens like a 70-300mm lens or 100-400mm lens. The telephoto zoom is also handy in case we see any large mammals and for some scenery shots. I also find a shorter focal length zoom to be useful. Something like a 24-70mm lens can be nice to have.