Sunday, December 20, 2009

Grouse in the Woods

Art and I were on the road at 0730 headed north to Hasty Brook. Last month the creek was still open but today it was frozen solid and coated with fresh snow.
With the leaves gone and snow on the ground we could see the rolling contour of the land across the creek. I caught a glimpse of quick movement on the ground...

The snow dusting the spruce trees along the hill made the view look just like a Christmas card. Maybe one day one of those trees will be decorated for Christmas.
Again, movement- up in a tree--
A Ruffed Grouse!! She was up in a birch eating the catkins. I think she heard me scramble for my camera. We see Ruffed Grouse up there nearly every trip but it's so hard to see them before they see us. They're such pretty birds! After a bit I saw another female on the ground. She was walking slowly as they do but then took off running in a burst of speed. Then I spotted a male chasing!. He was displaying for her! I've never seen a male with his tail up and fanned and his black ruff all fluffed and shaking. At one point he hopped up onto a fallen log. He continued his dance trying to impress the two females.

I took about fifty pictures of the male and got this one to keep. It's not perfect but considering the distance and dense brush I'm pretty happy. I didn't see or hear any drumming.

I watched the three grouse for over an hour moving around the hill directly across the creek.

Can you see the female in the birch? They move slowly out to the tips of the branches to get at the catkins on the very ends. It was overcast and gently snowing all day and by mid-afternoon the light was all ready fading. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me as I began to see movement all over the hill. Through my binoculars I counted nine grouse on the ground, in the brush and up in the birch trees.

The lighting is poor but here are five grouse near the top of a large birch across the creek.

I had packed up my camera and was checking the lock on the patio door when I saw this grouse. It was at eye level in a birch on the near side of the creek, about twenty feet away. I ran for my camera and quietly slid the door open for just a few more pictures.
(I had to run the ISO up to 800 so it's a little grainy.)
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My trip list included a mature Bald Eagle and two Rough-legged Hawks.
It took the Chickadees all of five minutes to find me filling the feeders. Within an hour White and Red-breasted Nuthatches were zipping about. A small flock of Redpolls showed up shortly before we left. I haven't seen any Pine Siskins since the beginning of summer. Two pairs of Hairy Woodpeckers were vocalizing and chasing each other. Isn't it early for them to be pairing up?
I'll have to look that up.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Vikings lost to the Carolina Panthers.
Ack.

30 comments:

Erie's Argonaut said...

Hasty Brook is so pretty in the winter! It looks like winter really sets in there early and hard. The grouse are pretty birds and the view you have from up there is spectacular! Merry Christmas!

Kim said...

Lynne, you are so lucky to see those LG's! I will never get pictures of that bird I have just resigned myself to that fact as they are too elusive. Those are fantastic shots! Love the winter scenic pictures too.

Jayne said...

Lucky you Lynne! What beautiful birds, and to be able to see the courtship display!! How cool was that??? :c)

fourwindsphotojournal said...

It sure looks like Maine there. Good shots, Lynne. I have never seen grouse up close. They are pretty birds.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

swamp4me said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing both the snow and the grouse!

Carolina Panthers win over the Vikings. Yipee. ;)

Eve said...

Wow Lynne! You are going to have some wonderful times when you don't have to travel to get to Hasty Brook!! I so look forward to all the memories you will be making there!

Cindie U. said...

I've only seen grouse in bird books--those are so cool. Happy Holidays!!

troutbirder said...

Double Ack!! I used to hunt grouse and can't remember ever seeing more than two at once.

Richard said...

Great Grouse pictures. I've never seen one.

See you are making a little progress up in the loft.

Carolyn H said...

Lynne: I love your grouse photos! They are usually so difficult to photo as it is uncommon for them not to flush. Nice job!

Carolyn H.

Montanagirl said...

Your Grouse photos are terrific Lynne. You should submit some of your photos to Birds & Blooms! Nice to see you back by the way.

The Early Birder said...

As expected 'Hasty Brook' comes up trumps again. Super russet colours on the Grouse.

Caroline said...

Lynne,
Given that ruffed grouse are known locally as partridges in the area of Northern New York where I grew up (Lake Champlain)and given the season...you got it perfect.

"and a partridge in a bare tree"

Merry Christmas!

Tina said...

Triple ack!
Wow!! I would love VIEW you have from that balcony...just a little bit envious here.. ;-)
I can't wait until you are there permanently ..what a thrill it will be to look out those windows and across to those wonderful views...ahh now there's a piece of happiness!!

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

In spite of poor light,you got some great shots of the Grouse.This place looks sooo beautiful,I think I would never want to leave.
Blessings,Ruth

jalynn01 said...

I very much enjoyed your pictures and your commentary. I would love to see the 'drumming and displaying' How cool! Looks a lot like of Christmas up there with the snow. Have a blessed Christmas Lynne...
and, thank you so much for your kind words on my blog about my father's passing.

Penelope said...

Wow, Lynne, how wonderful! And you got some terrific photos. It's startling to see them in the trees, somehow.

NatureWoman said...

This is just way so cool, Lynne! I love the view, and the phenomenal photos you've taken - what fun!! Merry Christmas, Lynne!

KGMom said...

Wooo hoooo---what a gift. Great pics--don't apologize.
Looks like a wonderful retreat place--to regroup, rejuvenate.

Susan Gets Native said...

You guys are just lousy with grouse.
And the only grouse I have ever seen is from the van on the High Country trip, silently pounding on Keith's shoulder as he got pics of it with my camera. And you have like, hundreds. :)

Hasty Brook IS a little piece of Heaven.

Mary said...

Linne, I remember my first Ruffed Grouse on one of those hairpin turn roads in West Va - down alongside the road and I really didn't want to look...

Your home looks so nice, wonderful, cozy. You and your family will make lots of loving memories there.

Sweet.


And, oh, I didn't know the Panthers won a game. That's very odd... LOL! I'm loving my Ravens, as in Baltimore.

Wishing you the merriest Christmas.

Love,
May

ivars krafts said...

Great Grouse shots! Glad to have you posting again!!

Wren said...

Oh my - fabulous. Great photos and what a wonderful bird - flock of birds - to have close at hand.

Diane said...

I've never seen a grouse...they are beautiful! Thank you for sharing your photos, Lynne. Have a wonderful holiday season!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lynne, those are really nice
grouse pics, you're just having
too much fun! Have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful New
Year!!
Hap in New Hope

RuthieJ said...

Those grouse are sure pretty birds. It will be fun for you to hear them drumming this spring (along with your turkeys gobbling too!)

Kathiesbirds said...

Lynne, what a magical experience!Did you enter your counts into eBird? This is important data! How wonderful!

BIRDINGDUDE said...

WOW!! How lucky you were to see and photograph the Grouse.

Larry said...

That is so cool! I've only seen grouse a few times in my life and never in such detail.

Cathy said...

Oh! Oh! Oh! Lucky, Lucky, Lucky!
I can only dream of such visions. But, dream I will.