Project Description

The Capercaillie lek – battle of the forest dragons

27th April – 1st May 2019

Book this tour

Some of the tour highlights:

  • Photography at some of northern Swedens best Capercaillie lek sites
  • Often up to 5-7 male Capercaillies at each lek site
  • We are on site during the best time, the so-called hen week
  • Opportunity to photograph Black Grouse lek
  • Each participant has their own hide
  • Tour leaders provide photographic advice in a small group who share the same interests

Light slowly fades outside the hide, and a sudden powerful wing-beat indicates the arrival of a male Capercaillie to roost. This first arrival is soon followed by several more, and as darkness falls they are gathered for the coming mornings lek. The males can be heard outside the hide even before it is light. We await the first light of dawn and can soon begin photographing the mating ritual of these forest dragons. The males stand their ground and challenge other males for ”better” ground. The activity increases as the first females enter the site…

The Capercaillie is the real splendor of the vast woodlands of the north. To see and photograph a Capercaillie lek is truly an experience. The Capercaillie is one of four birds in the Nordic countries that have a so-called lek. This means that the birds gather at the same place each year in order to mate. The males are active in the lek for a few weeks, and activity increases as mating time approaches. As opposed to the Black Grouse lek, Capercaillie leks are less predictable. Even though the site is the same from year to year, the position of the ”center court” varies. This makes Capercaillie leks somewhat more difficult to photograph than Black Grouse leks.

We work together with a very knowledgeable local guide, who will survey the available sites in order to provide the best photographic opportunities. We will primarily spend all our mornings at the Capercaillie site in order to get the most out of the unpredictable lek. Both patience and time is needed to get good images. We are present during the best time of year, the hen week. The hens arrive on the site, and the activity is at its most intense phase.

At the lek site everyone has their own hide to spend the night in. We have to be in the hide well before dusk so that we do not disturb the Capercaillies as they fly in to roost. The lek commences early in the morning, and hopefully goes on well into the morning. Even after the birds have left the site, we have to remain in the hides a while so as not to disturb any birds that are still in the vicinity.

If you want to experience one of the Nordic countries great nature spectacles, and accept the challenge of photographing the lek, this is a workshop for you.

We also provide the opportunity of photographing Black Grouse leks if you wish.

Tour facts

27th April – 1st May 2019
27 april -1 maj 2019

1 690 € (Euro)
(Registration fee 338 €)*

Tour leader
Henrik Karlsson

Number of participants
Min 6
Max 8

Last date to register
31st March 2019

Price includes
Share in double room (cottage for 2 persons) and meals according to itinerary. Access to hides accordingly to schedule, photo workshops, local transports, transfer to and from Umeå airport.

Single room fee
Limited availability of single rooms. Please contact us for more information.

Price does not include
Flights in and out of Umeå airport, tips, insurance, cancellation insurance, beverages, meals that are not specified in itinerary, phone and internet charges, personal items and sleeping bag.

Umeå airport. The tour starts and ends here.

Photo equipment
The main focus on this tour is to photograph lekking Capercaillie. Since we will be photographing from tent hides it is good to bring telephoto lenses. Most useful lenses will be 300 mm, 400 mm and 500 mm lenses. Zoom lenses like 70-200mm and 80-400mm gives you great possibilities to take different images of the birds.
Since the Capercaillie lek start early in the morning it is good to bring a 2,8 or 4,0 lens.
To increase focal length you can use a teleconverter.
If you have two camera bodies, bring both in order not to have to change lenses as much. Tripods will be useful so do bring one.

Temperature in northern Sweden in mid April can be very pleasant during daytime but the nights are still cold. It´s important to bring warm clothes and a warm sleeping bag to keep warm at night. Pair of rubber boots or sturdy hiking boots are the best option for the feeds.

Group and language
Our tours are open to all nationalities, so the group may be international. Our tour leaders speak Swedish and English.

*Terms of payment
Registration fee to be paid on registration. Remaining fees to be paid latest 60 days before the tour starts.

Additional information
Contact your insurance company about insurance, including cancellation insurance. Contact your doctor about vaccination requirements.

Terms and conditions


Day 1 (27th April) (Dinner – food parcel in the hide)
Arrival at Umeå Airport in the morning and further transport to our accommodation. We settle in before a workshop and information about the coming days. After dinner we head to our hides for the first night at the Capercaillie lek.

Day 2-4 (28th-30th April) (Breakfast – Dinner – food parcel in the hide)
During these days we will focus on the Capercaillie lek. This implies spending nights at the lek site in hides. We enter the hides well before dusk and leave our hides the following morning. This is very important in order not to disturb the Capercaillies. We provide a food parcel for the hide and have breakfast on return to our accommodation. During daytime we rest and work on our images.

Day 5 (1st May) (Breakfast)
One final morning in the hide, then we return to Umeå airport after breakfast.


Book the tour

The Capercaillie lek - battle of the forest dragons 27th April - 1st May 2019

NOTE! When you have made your booking you will immediately get a confirmation e-mail. If you don´t get the confirmation e-mail please check your spam e-mails or contact us by telephone, +46730 662 007.

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All correspondence will by via e-mail if nothing else is specified by customer.