Mid-Summer Grouse Update
We have received plenty of emails and phone calls over the past weeks with relation to how are grouse are coming on across the North of England, so we thought we would give you a quick update before the counts start to go ahead this month. From speaking with many moor owners, keepers and managers across all areas it has come to our attention that the grouse shooting will be varied across the Dales, North York Moors and Pennines this year…
As we mentioned in our previous Report, the Spring was late, very wet and conditions were not great for the hen grouse to settle down and lay. The snow caused problems on the higher altitude moors with stocks being unable to reach the medicated grit, so the worm burdens rose causing some mortality.
This poor weather has resulted in much smaller brood sizes as we predicted and this we think is because of the conditions the birds were in before laying, with cotton grass late in flowering, heather in bad shape and wet and cold conditions throughout the winter and early spring the grouse did not condition well before laying.
Weather conditions have now changed significantly from “The Beast from the East” to a very severe drought on our hands… We spare a thought for all of those involved in tackling the moorland fires across the North of England at this moment in time and we hope that they can put these out in good time and that not too much flora and fauna is lost to these blazes.
Note: There is a very interesting Article on BBC news where Professor Rob Marrs and Professor Claire Belcher discuss why managed burning across moorland will reduce the risk of these fires and that the RSPB run Saddleworth Moor was effectively a ticking time bomb for a large scale fire due to its lack of heather burning and management.
As we move towards to July counts with no rain forecast for the coming weeks, we predict counts will be varied and tricky to assess with the heat as working dogs in 30 degrees is not something that is sustainable over long periods of time for the dogs.
With the continuous heat wave we would also expect the stress levels of the birds to rise and if disease is present then this extended period of hot weather could damage stocks even further.
There are also a number of reports of tick which have caused problems for the grouse chicks over the past month and have definitely depleted brood sizes on a number of moors. The North York Moors historically is much more susceptible to tick, with odd cases in other areas.
We look forward to hearing from how the estates get on with their counts at the end of this month and we will be sending our Summer Counts Report through before the start of the season for you all to read.
To conclude at this stage of the year, we will start to see some cancellations coming through in the next 4/6 weeks, but with this new opportunities will also arise at other estates with better summer counts than expected. We do not expect a huge year across the board and brood sizes are definitely much smaller than last year across nearly all the moors we have spoken with. We think it will be patchy but there will be plenty of opportunities to shoot grouse across the North of England over the coming months.
At this moment in time for everyone’s sake, all we can do is pray for some rain – The British Countryside needs it!!!