10th August 2023
We are sorry this is so late to come out this year, some counts only finished last week which is why we had held off, to get the wider picture across the North of England. I know it is nearly 12th August so we thought we couldn’t wait much longer!
In spring everyone seemed fairly optimistic that grouse were in good condition going into the nesting and hatching period. Most Moors we spoke to left decent stocks (may have been on the heavier side than usual) of grouse on the ground after the 2022 season.
Grouse chicks hatched off well, with plenty of insects to go at in the early weeks. Dry weather from mid-May through to mid-June was ideal, however dry conditions can stress birds and allow birds to congregate around water points which can spread disease. Warm and wet weather in July was perfect for young grouse to thrive and they have done in certain areas but not in others.
From speaking to lots of Moors throughout this period, in certain areas it was clear to see that numbers were starting to dwindle from the get go, but everyone was going to wait to count before assessing what stock they had available on their ground. What became clear during this period and the counting period is that anywhere with big stocks definitely suffered with worm. We had Moors where we tested in November with almost no worm burdens, to then testing again in the summer and they were high.
We have heard that areas in the South Pennines have had some fairly big losses as well as certain areas within close proximity to one another in the Yorkshire Dales, North York Moors, North Pennines and Borders have also been affected. The higher Moors in the Pennines which had low stocks and limited shooting over the last two years have bounced back and should have a successful season. But even those Moors with decent numbers of grouse on them have been incredibly sporadic when counting… There are areas with good numbers of grouse on them and you walk another 500m and you can’t see any sign of grouse.
To paint the picture for those of you hoping to get out on the Moors in this year, it is not the season I think most thought it would be... We have had very favourable conditions and we were all fairly confident that this year could have been a very good one. But as more cancellations keep coming in from around the North, I think we can say it won’t be Premier Cru! BUT, having said that we have only cancelled around 8 x days in the Dalesport calendar so far, so it is very much far from a disaster and looks like it might be better than the previous 5 years.
I keep getting asked about Avian Influenza in grouse populations and did gather from a Moorland Association newsletter that a grouse had been tested as positive for AI in the past month. Please make sure you all come onto the Moors with clean kit and observe biosecurity rules, so that we reduce the risk of spreading AI into these wild stocks of birds in our uplands areas.
We look forward to seeing lots of you over the coming months and I hope not too many of you have days getting cancelled!
Click on the links below to review our previous grouse reports