Awoken by my wife who was coming in from a night out with her sisters, I couldn't get back to sleep and so got up at 2am and left at around 3am. I arrived in the dark at 4:15am and had the place to myself, which was great because I could choose the best spot to park.
For once the birds weren't present when I arrived and so I just had a quiet half hour or so before things started happening. Another birder arrived at around 5am by which time the birds were singing and calling and they were just about visible by their little white tail feathers running around in the dark. It was still way too dark for photos, so I just sat back with the window open, enjoying listening to their bubbling, gurgling noises and doing my best to see them through binoculars.
It really isn't worth trying to take photographs until the sun rises up from behind the hill because it is just too dark, but when it does the whole place comes alive. There were at least 17 and possibly 19 males present but no females - this is all about showing off in front of your peers.
Most lekking is just bluff as no birds seem to get hurt. They just run and jump at each other calling in a rasping voice, but seldom get to actually land a blow or peck their opponent. A nice little move is when a bird turns away in a 360 degree motion and then lunges forward, but it's all show and not an effective fight move, more of a dance really.
Many, if not all, the birds flew away a couple of times but thankfully soon returned again to continuing lekking. They really didn't like it when a Red Grouse mistakenly landed on the edge of the lek and soon saw it off.
Going to watch a Black Grouse lek is so much more than just getting a few good photos, it's the whole experience. Getting up at silly o'clock, arriving in the dark to listen to their wonderful gurgling and rasping calls, watching their little white backsides run around in the dim light as the day dawns and then finally seeing them strut their stuff in the golden morning sunshine.
If you've never done it, you really should. It's one of the UK's best wildlife spectacles and it's free!