Monday, 19 March 2012

The Red Grouse.

Its difficult for me to have a favourite upland bird - following on from the Stonechat that is - but the Red Grouse (RG) stands well up the list for me. 

The RG has a range restricted to areas of blanket bog and upland shrub heath. I hate to relate to this but....for well over two hundred years many areas of heather have been managed to produce the RG for shooting, in fact grouse shooting is one of the major land uses of the uplands and as become an important source of income for many estates.

There is no need to point any fingers at anyone, any area, or some areas of wildlife when it comes to how and why numbers of raptors in upland areas have declined as it is all to painfully obvious to us all. Estate management are never happy to see any increases in  - for example - foxes, crows, and raptors, and it seems likely that predation pressure by both mammals and predatory birds has increased on many moors according to the shooting fraternity and estate owners.

But hey....nature has itself has a hand in the decline of the RG too and around one third of grouse moors carry louping ill, a viral disease transmitted between host animal and ticks, an 'upland person' once told me it needs just one chick to acquire just one tick and every other bird in the nest dies too. The presence of louping ill causes serious levels of reduction in chick survival, and in the North of England in an area we all know well shooting was put on hold for many years, and the last time I had a conversation with any gamekeepers a couple of years ago here the 'hold' was still in place....but I don't pretend to be bang up to date in 2012 on that one. 

Its only two years ago I counted up to forty RG on Clougha - a stronghold for the grouse - so if that was in a bad year for the species, goodness knows what the number would have been in a good one. The RG lives....long live the Red Grouse!

And now the customary stuff.... 

Marsh Harrier Phillip Tomkinson

An excellent 'reflection' image of the juvenile Marsh Harrier....

Smew Tony Duckett

....and the equally excellent shot of the Smew in flight from our man in the park!

And thanks to DC at David Cookson Images for the other excellent shot of the Red Grouse in the new header.

I'D SOONER BE BIRDING!....and the time is getting nearer that I will be but....not yet.


David Cookson said...

Pete during my walking years I don't know who frightened who the most, me or the grouse as they would suddenly take flight out of the heather as I approached calling as they did so.....Go-back Go-back Go-back. An omen to us walkers perhaps, maybe I should go back instead of pressing on and collecting more blisters.
Walking the Pennine Way in 1987....God that's along time ago.... it seemed to occur every five minutes, suffice to say that there were plenty around then. Consequently it's a bird that hasn't interested me much photography wise. That was until four landed on the road right in front of the car then jumped into the heather by the side of the road. Great to see. Cheers

Pete Woodruff said...

I could take you to spend all day observing and photographing the Red Grouse David, trouble is it usually takes a little - sometimes a lot - of walking/climbing, and with all the gear....oh dear!! An amazing and delightful bird to watch and hear 'cackling' as it takes to flight.

Thanks for the images I use....what would Birds2blog be without you.