March 21, 2011

Okay, I have an idea that I am very excited to try this spring on the sharptail grouse lek on my dad's farm. I've always wanted to do something like this.

I am going to set up a blind and photograph as I always have using either a 180 mm lens or a 130-400 lens.

I thought that on the south side of the lek, I would set up a flip video camera that has two hours of run time. I would attach it to a stake so that when I arrive at the lek, all I have to do is turn the camera on and press the record button and then push the stake into the ground. Prior to doing this, I would probably put some tape over the back of the camera so that the recording light would not show, and I would possibly tape a hand warmer around it so that it would help the battery stay warm. The camera would be mounted below the top of the stake so that if a grouse landed on it, it wouldn't land directly on the top of the camera. There's always the chance of a bird dropping decorating my camera. Fun. Well, not really.

I thought that between the Flip Video camera and the blind, I would set up a camera on a tripod, with the camera about 5 inches above the ground. I will probably use a 21 mm lens. I would operate the camera remotely from the blind. Again, I would turn the camera on and take the lens cap off when I set the tripod and camera on the ground. I might also tape a hand warmer on the outside of the camera where the battery is. I would do this before I walked out to the lek. I am also planning to put some stakes in the ground alongside the camera --- and that are higher than the camera, so that if a grouse decides to land there, it lands on one of the stakes and not the camera. Again, I don't want to think about bird droppings and having to clean my camera.

If I do a set-up such as this, I would have to have a system so that when I show up about one hour before sunrise, I could walk out to the lek and set the two items up as quick as possible --- I'm talking maybe 15 seconds for each --- and then get in the lek right away. The purpose is minimal disturbance so that the integrity of the lek is maintained. I typically don't leave until about 45 minutes to one hour after sunrise. I would then gather the items and move away from the lek as quickly as possible.

I am not sure if this is going to work, but I am optimistic. I probably won't be out photographing for a couple of weeks, so I am going to have to be patient.

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