Glory to the grouse

Glory to the grouse

Posted 23rd February

Red grouse set up their territories in the uplands, and will frequently get carried away while chasing off their rivals

The size of a plump partridge and a deep chestnut-brown in colour with a dazzling bright red eye brow, the male red grouse is occupied with setting up his territory. And a territorial red grouse is a force to be reckoned with, particularly when he sees red.

The flash of red above his eye is a sign of how fit a male he is, and how good a partner he will make to a female. The bigger and brighter the red, the better the male. The arrival of a bigger flash of red on his territory is seen as a threat, to be chased away: even if that red flash is only your red coat. Stroppy male grouse have been known to react angrily to a red car parking nearby, while females quietly go about their business.

The boisterous 'famous' grouse is found on moorland in northern England, Wales and Scotland, as well as Ireland - but nowhere else in the world. He might seem angry, but the red grouse is a very special bird and we should take care of him.

How to do it

Not all grouse will be as brave as others. Most red grouse fly away if disturbed, whirring wings skimming them low and fast over the heather. It's especially important to keep dogs on a lead when there are ground nesting birds about and stick to the footpaths.

If you can't get to the special places listed below...

Red grouse isn't the only grouse in Britain. The handsome black grouse is famous for its lekking behaviour, where several males gather together to fight for the attentions of the females. These leks are now few and far between and will be very easy to disturb.

Special spots

The fabulous uplands of at Glaslyn Nature Reserve, Montgomeryshire will take your breath away with stunning views of the Dyfi valley and beyond. The reserve will be open all year round, but your best chance of spying a red grouse will be in the late summer when the chicks have grown, and the heather is in flower.

Cumbria, Drumburgh Moss

Denbighshire, Gors Maen Llwyd

Derbyshire, Ladybower Wood

Highlands, Handa Island

Highlands, Rahoy Hills

Highlands, Isle of Eigg

Lothians, Red Moss of Balerno

Northumberland and Cumbria, Butterburn Flow

Northumberland, Harbottle Crags

Perthshire, Balnaguard Glen

Staffordshire, The Roaches

Yorkshire, Fen Bog

Text and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts / image courtesy of © Tom Marshall

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