Snow return

This last spring trip in search of the Capercaillie turned into a winter expedition, with the biggest return of snow in the last twenty-five years in this region of Sweden, disrupting the lives of all the animals there, including me.

21st April 2023 – 08:30 – Fieldsketch. It’s a concert of Great Spotted Woodpeckers,
Black Woodpeckers and Red Wings (sketch). Incessant agitation
signals the euphoria of these first days of spring. First sketches of the trip.

Spring has set in,

Despite the thick layer of snow,
migratory birds are here.

The icy river is breaking up,
the snow is melting,
life abounds.

The few centimeters announced
won’t bother
the Capercaillies display.

23rd April 2023 – 08h30 – Watercolor from fieldsketch.
Perched at the top of a pine tree, this Gray Shrike faces the blizzard.
For my part, I try as best I can to protect my sheet which is soaking
and threatening to tear under the strokes of the pencils.

But on the first day of expedition,
it’s snowing hard,
temperatures drop,
the wind increases.

The animals begin to struggle,
and I start to improvise.

First night in the hide.


23rd April 2023 – 12:50. First camp in what becomes, despite myself,
a winter expedition.


Silent, circumspect,
a male Capercaillie advances,
snow up to his chest.

He disappears.

Sounds of beating wings,
he roosted for the night.
His dancing place must be close.

See you at dawn.


23rd April 2023 – 20:45 – Watercolor from fieldsketch.
No warning noise. A glance out the “window”, he is in front of me, twenty meters away.
He advances slowly, pushes the fresh snow with his chest and slowly moves aside.

2023_04_26 (54)_r_nb_1500px_72dpi

In the morning it is strangely warm.

The hide has disappeared under a thick layer of snow which insulates me from the cold.

In the distance, in the branches,
I catch a glimpse of the male singing.


 24th April 2023 – 07:25 – Fieldsketch.
04:00 a.m., I wake up, he’s already singing. I look for a moment before finally discerning him,
quite far away, between the branches of a pine tree. He remains perched and will not come down.


25th April 2023 – 18:38 – In the hide.

My routine, a Capercaillies one.
05:00 p.m. Back in the hide,
before they arrive.
03:00 a.m.
Wake up,
before they wake up.
10:00 a.m.
Leave the hide,
after their departure.
05:00 p.m.
Back in the hide.

5th May 2023 – 03:40 – Watercolor from fieldsketch.
Dawn is progressing, the sky turns purple,
Imperceptibly, light is coming.
A few wingbeats to my right.
A male Capercaillie slaloms through the canopy.

Out of the hide,
I look for prints, clues.

and discover,

the habits of other inhabitants…

◄ 24th April 2023 – 12:21. A Capercaillie landed there. By following the tracks,
I discover a whole network of trampling steps, circles, jumps: it’s a dancing place.
29th April 2023 – 15:30. I am moving in a rich and complete nature. I come across the fresh tracks of a Lynx.

28th April 2023 – 15:30 – Fieldsketch
I rest against a tree trunk on which I discover as I leave the scratches of the Bear cub who climbed it.

It is snowing endlessly.

Timidly, courageously,
some animals
still believe in spring.


26th April 2023 – 16h30 – Watercolor from fieldsketch.
While it is snowing more than ever, that nothing is moving,
a male of Black Grouse persists in singing from the top of his tree.
Will there be anyone to listen to him?

But the snow is disrupting everything.

this male Capercaillie
falls asleep stuck to the trunk,
sheltering from the icy wind
which blows from the north.

Will he sing?

Will he come down?

Will he dance?

26th April 2023 – 21:30 – Watercolor from fieldsketch.
He is only twenty or thirty meters away from me. I draw him with the last light of day
reflecting on his head and shoulders.

He gets closer to the trunk, I sink
into my sleeping bag, silently.


27th April 2023 – 06:30 – Watercolor from fieldsketch.
I wake up before him. He didn’t move. 03:49 a.m., he wakes up and stretches.
03:58, first song. He will remain perched for the few hours
he will spend singing under this heavy snow.

Winter has finally won.

Spring went back,
along with migratory birds.

Everything went quiet,
encapsulated in stillness and silence.

The birds stay perched,
no more traces except mine.
which the Lynx and the Fox take
so as not to get exhausted.

30th April 2023 – 12:00. My snowshoe tracks form
a network of trails in the landscape. I reuse them
as much as possible so as not to sink into the meter of fresh snow
that has fallen.
Other animals have the same reflex, here a Lynx.

Some locals,

adapted and discreet,
carry on with their lives,
indifferent to the snow.


▲ 26th April 2023 – 17:30 – Watercolor from fieldsketch
▼ 6th May 2023 – 16:15 – Fieldsketch
Ten days apart between these two images and yet taken
on the same tree and almost the same branch, a poplar
around which this male (left) and this female (right)
of Hazel Grouse seemed to gravitate.

And the rare signs of Capercaillie
make less and less sense.

Everything that seemed clear
becomes confused.
The certainties of one day,
forge the doubts of the next day.

Grouse are not the only ones
that this second winter is troubling.


▲ 28th April 2023 – 12:30 – Fieldsketch
▼ 3th May 2023 – 20:45 – Fieldsketch
A female Black Grouse (top).
No more mfootprints, no tracks of this species. They no longer touch the ground with all this snow.
A Capercaillie flies down the entire valley (bottom).

A sunny spell,
two weeks have passed,
like a break out of time,
erased, nonexistent.

Everything starts again
from the beginning.

The migratory birds are arriving,
The snow melts,
Life abounds.


◄ 6th May 2023 – 04:25 – Fieldsketch
In photo, one of the rare sunny spells of the first week.
It will take another week for the weather to really open up.
In sketch, a male dancing a few meters from my hide.

A deep black spot,
rounded, level with snow,
getting closer,
and appearing.

A fan-shaped tail emerges.

Against the light,
a male dances,
towards my hide.

5th May 2023 – 04:30 – Watercolor from fieldsketch
While I thought he was on the other side of the valley,
here he comes, very close, tail outstretched with slow, measured movements,
and mechanical, surreal song.

Two invisible weeks,
a false start.

No big parade,
great spectacle,
but all the difficulty of a nature
surprised, mishandled, shaken up.

The intense silence of a new winter,
the impatience of a season.

I leave with my feet
on a snow-free ground,

Spring is here,
for good,


6th May 2023 – 04:25 – Fieldsketch
I am in the last days of my stay and this morning,
at this time, I am no longer expecting anything, everything is so calm.
But here is this male who lands, dances and sings, five meters from me.


Art prints from this expedition

" Still believing in spring "

Edition : 30 copies.
165 €

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" Too much snow to dance "

Edition : 30 copies.
165 €

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