• Ed Darbishire

Summer Grouse Report 2022

We have always tried to put a positive spin on the grouse stocks to give people some hope and encouragement that there will be something to look forward to on the moors for what is the most exciting sporting quarry in the world.


We reviewed the last three seasons’ summer reports. In 2019 broods were decimated by extensive heavy cold rain in June. In 2020 heather beetle was widespread and affected brood size and condition of the birds and then last year we had the coldest May on record with extensive frosts preventing insects developing and restricting the heather growth.


So, after these 3 diabolical years for young grouse, and their adults I suppose, by the law of averages, we were due something a bit better this year.


The Spring was not too early with no late frosts, therefore everyone reported good levels of insect life in early May. It appears that all the grouse came through the winter very well, pretty much universally everyone reported good clutch sizes seen at hatching. Often when this happens the brood sizes decline due to weather event or lack of food but this year they haven’t had any dietary issues so the majority seem to have survived, despite there being more predators to take the chicks, particularly large gulls since these predatory gulls are now protected by Natural England. They pose a real problem for the rarer wader species, particularly Curlew and Lapwing chicks which prefer shorter vegetation associated with managed Moorland.


What has been very satisfactory is some of us have seen a large number of wader chicks that have been fledged from the areas managed for grouse shooting. Sadly, this boost will probably not stem the general population’s decline because of the unfavourable breeding conditions, predation/farming practices away from areas managed for grouse shooting (the Black Grouse have had their best year for 5 years and good broods of Grey Partridge have been seen on the moorland fringe. It’s so lovely to see these iconic bird species where the proper conservationists are hard at it.)


The intelligence we’re receiving back from the summer counts (which are taking place as we write this report) are positive and we can expect the shooting programmes to go ahead as we stand, which is great news.


We are acutely aware of those high moors last year that lost all their stock, i.e., High Pennines are saying while they have an odd few grouse in certain corners many of them will be unable to have a full shooting season due to the inevitable recovery from an almost total wipe out last year. So, it’s not all smelling of roses and I would assume Scotland is in a similar situation.


Regarding Avian Influenza (AI), there are record high numbers of cases across the country, so please be very conscious of cleaning your kit properly if you have been within infected areas and are coming onto any moors or low ground shoots throughout the season.


With regards to Grouse availability - All our days are booked up at the moment but we are expecting to see some further availability especially through late September, October and even into November given what we are hearing on the ground. So if you are wanting a day or a Gun(s) on a day, please get in touch and let us know what exactly you are looking for and we will keep you posted as and when opportunities become available that suit your specific needs.

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