1st March 2019
After what can only be described as a disastrous year for most in 2018, the winter weather was kind to our beloved Red Grouse and this has meant we have not seen a loss in stock over the winter months as a result of weather events, which is encouraging.
Through lots of visits to our managed Moors over the past month we were delighted to see an abundance of Cotton Grass flowering on the higher Pennine Moors just at the right time this year, as a consequence we think our Hen Grouse should be in really good shape as they go in to lay their eggs around about now. This was obviously very different to last year where the Cotton Grass flowered some weeks after the hens went to lay, due to the ferociously cold weather (Beast from the East) through the Spring months. This meant the Hen Grouse were very weak, malnourished and lacking protein build up when they went to lay last year and resulted in poor clutches.
Having said this it is not all singing and dancing, we desperately need some rain in the North of England. The heather was in such poor condition after the harsh summer of 2018 and a very mild/dry winter, it really does need some favourable and wet weather to help it on its way this year… We are sure you would have seen on the news, but most of the Moorland areas in the North of England are on High Alert for Wildfire. We have just had news of a Wildfire on North York Moors yesterday, over 30 Fire Fighters and Game Keepers from across the National Park have been helping to fight the blaze which spread over 1 square mile and was started by arsonists from a nearby town.
As we mentioned last year, a number of the shoots who pulled stumps and hardly shot did not do so because they had no grouse, only they wanted to conserve what they had for the following year. This has meant that the Pair Counts across a number of non-shooting Moors of last season have been generally good. See more below for specific areas:
Certainly from our managed shoots across the Central Dales regions and other neighbouring estates the Pairs Counts seem to be encouraging across the board. There are a few we have heard that are down, one must remember that last years pairs counts were also pretty good, but mother nature took her toll with the boiling weather and lack of water…
North York Moors
North York Moors was obviously going to be an exception with a number of Moors shooting hard through November but still leaving good stocks at the end of the last season. Again this sustained period of dry weather will not favour the North York Moors but we have heard reports of very encouraging pairs counts in this area.
We have heard from estates who didn’t really shoot at all last year that their Pair Counts this Spring are very encouraging… But for a number of these high Moors it will be a building year, especially for those badly affected by the Heather Beetle last summer. There are although some reports of grouse showing up where there were very few last autumn which is encouraging.