Wednesday, 28 April 2010

North Pennines....Black Grouse

Continuing on from my last posting as promised, here is my account of a wonderful day's birding in the North Pennines,with good friend Paul Foster. To hopefully obtain some close up images of Black Grouse was the primary objective of our trip to the hills above Middleton in Teesdale. As previously described we were diverted from this task by the sheer beauty of the area and the super abundance of waders which could be found in every roadside field.
Eventually however we approached the favoured area for the black grouse close to where the leks take place. We soon found a solitary male bird not too far from the road but it was very wary and took flight. Other birds were seen but were too distant for decent shots so we had another tour round before returning late afternoon to the leking area. Again we found a blackcock not too far from the road and it stayed around long enough for us to get some reasonable images before it too departed.
As we were thinking of setting off for home we couldn't believe our luck as down below the road the birds had begun to lek again. This was wonderful to see as the male black grouse strutted their stuff. I have seen this display described as "like gentlemen in evening dress at an old fashioned ball".With the sparring and minor combats that go on however I would say it was more like a typical Saturday night in any of our towns and cities with much noise and fighting between groups of males to woo the attention of the females. They were a little too far away for close up shots of the action but hopefully the lek shots above show the colourful scene which took place below us.
However better was to come as we were leaving the area to go home . We just couldn't believe our good fortune as a male black grouse was at the side of the road very close to the car. Panic stations ensued as cameras were hastily grabbed to make the most of this wonderful opportunity for the close up images we had come for. We were not to be dissapointed as the bird lingered long enough for us to get those elusive shots of a black grouse at close range. This had been a wonderful day out in this very special part of Northern England with great company,wonderful scenery,and the fulfilment of our objective to get close to this elusive and vulnerable bird. I hope you enjoy the images above, a record of our memorable day in the North Pennines.


  1. Wonderful images and great to find out that these birds are in the area we often visit during our stay in the County of Durham.

  2. Hi,

    The black grouse is a large bird in the grouse family. It is a sedentary species, breeding across northern Eurasia in moorland and bog areas near to woodland, mostly boreal. It is closely related to the caucasian black grouse. Thanks a lot........

    Birth Of a Manta Ray

  3. Hi Brian,
    Thank you for your super account of this experience and the photos which are great. I am visiting the Northern Pennines area at the end of April and as I am an avid wildlife photographer I would really like to try to get some good images like yours. I have done plenty of online research so I have a fair idea where to go but I just wondered if you might be able to tell me the spot you were in as it might give me more of a fighting chance. you can contact me on
    Many thanks,
    Andy Wakefield