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  • Writer's pictureEd Darbishire

Spring Grouse Report 2021

Unfortunately, with everything that went on last year we didn’t mange to get in much grouse


The days that went ahead were tainted by stringent rules and regulations for COVID-19 which definitely effected the overall feel of our days in the field. Beaters and Pickers Up were advised to keep their distance from one another and the Guns and the visiting guests were told to stay apart from one another amongst plenty of other things and for all of us these are some of the most important parts of an “enjoyable” days shooting. Laughs, hugs, banter and seeing familiar faces on all the Estates is why our clients come back year after year!

The Pheasant & Partridge season as you can imagine was pretty much wiped out too, so unfortunately it was a bad year for everyone involved in the shooting industry and we very much hope that plenty of shoots around the country have managed to pull through and come out the other side like we have.

As always in a poor year, there were pockets of Grouse and some Moors had plenty of Grouse in North Pennines, parts of Scotland and the Borders. Covid-19 managed to halt most of these few lucky Moors from Shooting throughout November, so they did leave larger stocks than was expected - It will be interesting to see how they fair this year... The higher wetter areas tended to be better but the dreaded Heather Beetle and drought proved disastrous for Grouse numbers across the whole country really.

There is always a silver lining though… A good proper cold winter (the first in a few years) meant that the Grouse were in excellent condition when we came round to pairing up and nesting. We had good cotton grass growth for the Hens and are hoping for better insect life given the damp conditions. I gather from a number of Estates that the pair counts in in badly affected Heather Beetled areas were surprisingly good this Spring. The heather has really benefitted from a wet winter and some colder conditions throughout January and February. I can’t help but think that the sustained periods of overnight frosts in April/May must have been good for supressing the Heather Beetle hatches too as we have not seen the amount of Heather Beetle as we have in the previous 3 x years.

We are starting to see plenty of chicks hatching all over the Moors across the North of England, as we move into the middle of May and I would expect to see the bulk of the hatching after the coming weekend into June.

The chicks we have seen seem to have survived the cold weather, snow, hail and rain over the past week and the forecast looks showery and warming up which will be super for insects hatching for the chicks staple diet before they move onto the heather.

As always we keep our fingers crossed for favourable conditions and if we do have a good breeding season, that the heather is in good enough order to support the birds on the ground and that the Gulls do not decimate the ground nesting bird chicks through Natural England’s refusal to issue any Gull Licences to protect ground nesting birds and waders this year…!!!

We hope that everything will be back to normal this season and we look forward to welcoming everyone back onto the Moors on 12th August and onto our Low Ground Shoots from September onwards.

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