Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Call of the wild ...

Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus)

The beautiful Red Grouse Lagopus lagopus ssp. scoticus is the British race of the Willow Grouse (Lagopus l. ssp. lagopus), although it was once believed that the Red Grouse was a species in its own right known as Lagopus scoticus, endemic to the British Isles. Furthermore, birds in Ireland are sometimes thought to be a separate subspecies known as L. l. hibernica.

Males mark out their territories with an energetic display during which they bound into the air, giving their characteristic call, whilst challenging opposing males for an area of moorland with abundant heather and bilberry in which the female will produce a nest scrape for her eggs. The eggs, which are well camouflaged, are typically laid in April and may number ten or more.

Widespread predator control is a key feature of grouse moor management. Foxes, stoats and crows are usually extensively controlled in such areas, with birds of prey, such as Golden Eagles, Goshawks and Hen Harriers, often being illegally targeted. The extent to which this abhorrent abuse occurs is hotly contested between conservation groups and shooting interests. The subject, quite rightly, generates much heated debate and media attention in relation to the management of grouse moors, wildlife crime and the shooting community.


BirdLife International (2015). Species factsheet: Lagopus lagopus [Online]. Available from: www.birdlife.org [Accessed, 28 April 2015].

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