The Countryman's Weekly

Grouse Counting

Grouse Counting
April 13
07:10 2021

Being led on a wild goose chase counting grouse

By David Hudson.

THE great thing about spring grouse counts is getting back onto the moors again after a long winter. This year, thanks to COVID-19 and shooting ending around Christmastime, winter seemed to be especially long, so it was a real treat to be back on the hill in mid-March.

This time it wasn’t just the dogs that had to be vaccinated before appearing in company, we had all been jabbed at least once, and there are no problems with social distancing when there are just five people and five dogs on 1,000 acres of heather moorland.

The main purpose of spring grouse counting is – obviously – to count the number of pairs of red grouse we find on each beat and compare this with previous years. The pointers and setters do all the actual work: all we have to do is keep score. How many pairs, how many single cocks, how many cocks with two hens are all noted down in a little book and reported back to the Headkeeper each day.

Just getting out and working our dogs on the heather is reward enough in itself, but most days are enlivened by the other things we see, apart from the grouse and bird dogs. There were several pairs of geese nesting on the moor this year and they didn’t appreciate having their space invaded by a bunch of humans and their dogs.

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