Sharp-tailed Grouse viewing in Clearwater County, Minnesota
The previous day I met three birders who had been to a blind to see sharp-tailed grouse courting display. The blind was more than 84 miles from where I was ( Crookston). After making few calls to local DNR, I had a reservation to the blind for 4/12/11. These blinds are by reservation only and usually available from mid April to early May. It was in Berner , Clearwater County. The closest town with a motel was in Clearbrook which was about a 15 miles south of Berner. I stayed at Piper’s Inn. Clean nice little motel. After checking out the blind that afternoon I decided to go to Itasca State Park. I didn’t realize that the mighty Mississippi river originated in lake Itasca.
About 1000 Trumpeter Swans were seen 5 miles north of Clearbrook in a lake. What a sight.
Windy day with wind gush up to 20mph. Chance of rains later in the morning. Early morning temperature was in the upper 30s. Not bad.
Got to the blind at 5.30AM. It was very quiet till about 6.30AM and I was getting worried. Then I heard 5-6 pairs of Sharp-tailed Grouse flying in. They were fascinating to watch. The mating ritual was somewhat similar to Prairie Chickens, but not as elaborate . The show went on till about 7.45AM. I used 600mm lens on my D3 and 70-200 with 1.4Tc on my d200. Some of the birds were as close as 3 feet. It was an awesome day.