Behind the lens
Tesni Ward explains the challenges of snapping grouse
Wildlife photographer Tesni Ward reveals how she navigated the stunning Peak District in her
bid to snap some famous grouse
One of the greatest challenges with photographing wildlife in winter conditions in the Peak District is access; every year we seem to see less and less snow, so when it does hit, it can easily lead to numerous road closures, which makes it impossible at times to reach the sites higher up. Consistent and lengthy cold spells are required to allow the snow to hang around while the roads are cleared.
Towards the end of 2017, the Peak District experienced some substantial snowfall on the higher elevations, which stuck for three to four days before disappearing. While the roads were cleared within a day, the next challenge was the persistent, low-lying cloud that shrouded the areas I wanted to access. On a particularly cold morning, although such cloud was forecast all day, it was also windy. This meant there was the potential for clear spells to blow over throughout the day.
After a 50-minute walk in extremely poor visibility, I eventually arrived at an area I knew well that has a notable population of red grouse. This would give me the best chance to photograph them if conditions allowed, so I settled down in a sheltered overhang to wait.
It took a couple of hours, but eventually the landscape began to brighten as the clouds rapidly cleared. The views were incredible, with a pristine blanket of white spreading as far as the eye could see. I took this opportunity to search for wildlife among the numerous groughs (natural channels found in peat moors) and hills, eventually finding a small covey of red grouse in the distance. The opportunity was short lived, with the wind bringing in the cloud cover again, but I was able to capture the images I had been hoping for.
Snow can provide the best conditions in which to photograph red grouse, as they are easily seen and stand out from their white surroundings. Try to photograph them in their natural terrain in order to highlight the harsh habitat that they can survive in.