Capturing European Big 5 – part 2: Freezing in the night to see some “Bush-Turkey”

So there I was… dropped off at a 2 square meter hide, with two sleeping bags (-30C each), a thermos, some cookies, sandwiches, a can of beer, my camera equipment and a bucket. After organising all my stuff, I sat down, wrapped myself in one of the sleeping bags, lit a few candles to get the hide a bit warmer and made myself some tea and waited.

In my attempt to capture the European Big 5 this year, I booked a trip to Finland to photograph bears and wolverines close to the Russian border. After a few successful nights with the bears, I decided to give another species a shot: some sort of “Bush-Turkey”. Okay, that last statement is solely to offend my fellow photographers, who really tried to convince me that I needed to see this rare bird. I’m not into birding, anything smaller than a Rockhopper penguin is not of any interest to me. As this one is a much bigger bird, I thought I should give it a shot.

hideIt’s early spring, so this bird starts his courting around 4:00 in the morning, all photographers where dropped of at the hides in the taiga on the Russian boarder at around seven in the evening. We had to spent the night in the hides to not disturb the bird in the morning. The manager of the Wildlife Center planned this oval shaped hide for me, with eight open viewing holes, which explained the two sleeping bags, because it was freezing… After another cup of tea and a beer it was time to try and get some sleep. Before I fell asleep, I could hear some big bird flattering it’s wings up in the trees right next to my hide. No clue why it chose my hide to spent the night, probably because I was the only woman around.

Next morning I woke up at 3:30 and I couldn’t feel my face. The two sleeping bags did their job, but my nose was frozen. First things first, lit the candles again and as I thought I could enjoy another cup of tea I saw some Chinese hand fan-shaped thing moving along the trees. Still dark, but our performer thought it was showtime already…

A photographic impression of the Bush-Turkey (Capercaillie):

Lucky me, the Capercaillie spent quite some time right in front of my hide, just when it started snowing. The whole performance ended after about 4 hours, including some bickering with his neighbour.

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