Black Grouse

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Black Grouse

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Wonder how accurate article in todays Telegraph is where it states Black Grouse is a red listed bird as a result of habitat loss and increasingly intensive agriculture.Bird books I have all state that this bird is a moorland bird and there are many thousands of acres of moorland that surely are good for Black Grouse with none there,for instance doubt if any are any on Derbyshire Peak District moors.Wonder if this old habit of blaming increasingly intensive agriculture is stopping us getting the answer to the real problem.All the moors that I have seen from Dartmoor to Scotland could not be labelled intensive agriculture even by someone with massive imagination. 

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  • The RSPB information lists several problems for the Black Grouse, including overgrazing (livestock, deer and rabbit) - which causes habitat loss, expansion of forestry - obviously causing habitat loss and there does seem to be lots of young plantations popping up, drainage - causing habitat loss, and deer fences - apparently a major cause of adult mortality.  And there are a lot of deer fences around!  So looks like the Telegraph is only picking up a corner of the jigsaw puzzle.  But then, most conservation issues are a usually a much bigger picture than what the press report, it's as if they think if it gets too complicated their readers heads may explode due to the complexity of the situation.  Or blaming a fence is just too boring.  "Habitat loss" in itself is often very complicated and can be caused due to many factors so it doesn't really explain anything as it covers so many things - could even be aliens coming down and taking the heather because they like to wear it as a wig for all "Habitat loss" could cover.

    The Black grouse would also be red listed regardless of how well it was doing in the UK - they have declined massively across Europe (where agriculture could be a major problem, who knows?)

    All that for a tabloid?  Geez I must be bored today lol

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  • The RSPB information lists several problems for the Black Grouse, including overgrazing (livestock, deer and rabbit) - which causes habitat loss, expansion of forestry - obviously causing habitat loss and there does seem to be lots of young plantations popping up, drainage - causing habitat loss, and deer fences - apparently a major cause of adult mortality.  And there are a lot of deer fences around!  So looks like the Telegraph is only picking up a corner of the jigsaw puzzle.  But then, most conservation issues are a usually a much bigger picture than what the press report, it's as if they think if it gets too complicated their readers heads may explode due to the complexity of the situation.  Or blaming a fence is just too boring.  "Habitat loss" in itself is often very complicated and can be caused due to many factors so it doesn't really explain anything as it covers so many things - could even be aliens coming down and taking the heather because they like to wear it as a wig for all "Habitat loss" could cover.

    The Black grouse would also be red listed regardless of how well it was doing in the UK - they have declined massively across Europe (where agriculture could be a major problem, who knows?)

    All that for a tabloid?  Geez I must be bored today lol

  • The Black Grouse is not really a bird of heather moorland more a bird with a liking for the edges of moors,rough pasture and the edge of woodland.The numbers here in Yorkshire are slowly on the increase due to work put in by various conservation groups but it will be many years before the bird comes off the red list if ever.

  • I know this does not add much to the debate but I know Dartmoor & Exmoor pretty well & the surrounding moorland edges & have done for quite a few decades & I have never seen a black grouse anywhere.

  • There is a programme to help the birds run by the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (I know the title may put people off but they are doing good work) and in some cases they move cock birds to other areas and the females follow so slowly spreading the leks.Bella I tink the Black Grouse died out in the S.W. of England sometime after W.W.2.

  • Seaman

     

    Bella I tink the Black Grouse died out in the S.W. of England sometime after W.W.2.

     

    That explains why I have never seen one then...not quite old enough ! Would be lovely to see their return.

  • Hi All,

    Another problem that I feel may have a bad effect on moorland birds such as the Black Grouse is the polution and destruction of moorland by the siting of wind farms. I am not talking about whirling blades and noise etc. but about the thousands of tons of concrete that have been carted onto upland sites. Concrete is alkaline whereas most of the upland moors are peat based and therefore acid.

    It is obvious already in some places that the flora (and therefore I am sure the fauna) is being altered by the upset in the ph of the soil around windfarms simply, I assume from the leaching of alkali by rainfall from the concrete towers and down to the ground.

    The other thing I can get no information on is how the various companies involved in these things plan to decommission the sites when they reach the end of production. My question is "will all the concrete be removed or will it simply be broken up and spread on the moorland (afterall no-one lives there - out of sight out of mind eh?) thus altering the habitat for ever?"

    I don't think we have nearly enough "unspoilt " moorland anyway and what we have is under greater challenge than most farmland because  there are so few of us who ever notice it and care for it.

    Please worry about the Black Grouse and all our upland birds - they may not be the ones you enjoy every day in your garden but they are nevertheless just as much fun, just as cute, and just as brilliant.

    Jenni (a mountain girl!)

     

  • Nice one Jenni but I think the decline of Black Grouse and other upland birds began long before most us had dreamt of wind farms in the UK.Drainage of the uplands,under grant schemes,may Have helped the decline in many cases but that is now being reversed or at least in our part of the Dales.This may help but like most things like this it will be slow.As we spend some of our birding time counting birds in our local upland areas I have always taken a great interest in this and it seems most of the Dales farmers have a great interest in it as well.

  • My family farm on Exmoor. When I was up there recently I toured one of their upland farms with a cousin. He is very keen on the 'stewardship' initiatives & loves to see the wildlife in his fields (mostly sheep & beef stock on his pastures). He was telling me that he is very happy to do the new 'stewardship' bits but it did feel very odd after 50+ years of being told by the Min of Ag, DEFRA, etc. to 'improve' the upland fields by doing the exact opposite to what he is now being encouraged to do. He feels as if 50+ years of the family's work was a waste of time, effort & public money in grants.

  • Bella,we  were talking to some folk from Natural England recently who were involved in helping farmers to get into schemes,they said if several bodies get involved it is very confusing.I am firmly of the belief that to retain the sort of countryside we would like with its flora and fauna we need to pay recompense to the farmers/landowners,they cannot make a living just by making it look pretty for us to look at

  • Saw the Black Grouse heading and it sparked my interest.

    I am lucky enough to have a black grouse Lek site  within walking distance from my house. I have seen numbers increase at this site over the last 10 years, which is part of a well managed grouse shooting estate, there are No conservation bodies involved in this estate, just gamekeepers who love their wildlife.

  • Borderslass
    No conservation bodies involved in this estate, just gamekeepers who love their wildlife.

    Borderlass,this is how it should be just wish all shoots worked the same way.It must be great o have a lek within walking distance our nearest reliable one is about an hours drive away almost in County Durham.We have a couple of nearer ones where cocks have been moved so we prefer to leave them in peace until they are established.

  • Lovely to see a comment from Rhona,understand your frustration and should respect any decision you make but we like your contribution on here and we would be the losers if you leave and the RSPB does a really good job at grass roots level.

  • Lol Sooty, the site is still very slow for me, but now we know they accept that it is not working well for some and are working on it.

    Re the Black Grouse,

    I know some people have to get up at Silly O Clock to be in place to watch the Lek, my chaps and chapesses are very accomodating at the moment, between 8pm and 9pm without fail and on time, they get on their dancing shoes and flash those tail feathers :)

  • Can't be all bad for black grouse - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-14067526 nearly 70% increase in Scotland over the last year is not bad!

  • That's good news as I hope to see one (or more!!!) when I go end of September! :-)

    Rhona - wow is all I can say! I know of a lek near Wrexham but that involves stupid o'clocks too!