Zoltán Gergely Nagy - Carpathian Spring
Usually in April capercaillies gather at lekking sites in the high Carpathians, where the males measure up to one another and later mate with the females, if they prove fit and dominant enough.
I set out to experience and photograph this spectacle in the great forests of the Retezat Mountains of Romania. Since the Retezat is also a National Park, these birds have not been hunted here for almost a century and I have found the local knowledge of the exact lekking sites very limited. I wondered through a few valleys and a lot of suitable habitat starting in the middle of April but I couldn’t even catch glimpses of capercaillies, and was contemplating going home with just the landscapes and forestscapes I have produced, when one early morning I heard my first lekking male. After that I could hear more and more males every morning, but still only from high up on trees, hidden behind branches until one morning, when suddenly capercaillies started landing everywhere on the snow, mating and chasing each other well into the morning hours. I could feel some of the excitement and rush transferring into me from these birds – an amazing show to be part of!
Tags: capercaillie, chase, lek, Retezat Mountains, Romania, snow, spring, tetrao urogallus, Zoltan Gergely Nagy