3rd August 2021
Grouse counting has now been completed across many of the Moors and it is clear that the numbers are well down on what was expected or seen at hatching time. I am afraid this is a direct result of the poor nutrition for the adult Grouse which is potentially a follow-on from the Heather Beetle from the last few years… Unfortunately just as the heather looked like recovering and was about to flush, the frosts of May freeze dried the heather shoots turning them all brown at the time the adult Grouse needed it most.
This is the best explanation I can come up with and this led onto other issues with disease and other problems which again I think manifest themselves when the birds are stressed due to poor feed. Frustratingly around the edges of some moors there are clearly some good broods, but these seem to be where there is more mixed sward – possibly a more varied diet.
There are also reports of a significant number of immature Grouse (second broods) which probably again relate to poor nutrition and or the desperate weather in May. The flooding or frosting of eggs lead to abandonment and the Grouse therefore had second clutches which hatched off in July. Those Moors that do have a few Grouse are delaying the beginning of their season to September to accommodate these late developers.
In summary, what looked a reasonably promising spring, as a result of the extreme weather in May, is probably going to be at best a poor season.
Adrian & Edd
The Team at Dalesport Sporting Agency