April 26, 2007
I arrived early, but I was late ... the drumming was going on, and the activity was unbelievable. I thought that I was going to scare the entire group on the way in. There were about 20 horses near my blind, and I did not want to spook them, especially since there wasn't much light (Do I want about 20 horses running at me in the dark? I think not.). I did manage to get them to move to the north, and then walked to my blind. To my surprise, very few flew away. And I soon found out why (next photo).  
The reason they did not fly away is there had to be at least 10 females in the bunch. I had never seen that many females at the lek before. Many times I tried counting all the grouse in the lek, and they moved so quick, that I could never get an accurate count. However, I know that it was well over 40. Most of the spring, I had been counting 27 miles consistently, and so there could have been 13+ females, unless some additional males were at the lek. 
I took the first photos in this bunch when it was really low light. I was using a Sigma 180 3.5 lens. I kind of like the effects of the lights in the background (from the city of Mandan). 
This photo is a prime example of how busy the middle of the lek was. I think there are probably nine females in this photograph (but it's hard to tell). 
 
 
 
 
This photo makes me laugh; it looks like the female is marching through the lek.  
 
 
 
 
 
When the females started to fly away during the morning (most fly away by sunrise or a little after), then the fighting between the males becomes more intense. You will notice many examples towards the bottom of this page. A number of the photos are out of focus, but I included them so that you could see the action.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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