January 2012

    The moors have lost their purple lustre of summer and are looking brown, bare and deserted. There appears to be a good stock of grouse who have survived the shooting and are now paired up ready for the breeding season. The grouse gather up into packs for the early winter months but those fortunate ones that remain will now be re-united with their mates. They keep the same mate throughout their lifespan so any unfortunate grouse who lost his mate will now have found a new partner.
The cock grouse, unlike the pheasants who have many female partners, are now claiming their territories on the moor and will defend them with great diligence. We have two pair residing relatively close to our house and the male birds are often seen surveying their patch from favourite look-outs. One of these is visible through the windows  of our home.
Most of the wild fruit in the hedgerows has now been devoured by the visiting flocks of fieldfare and local birds.  The fieldfare arrive in early winter every year to replenish their food stores ready for the migration to the arctic regions in the spring where they will breed.

Cock grouse on alert

We have two half-grown holly bushes that were covered in berries before Christmas but have now been stripped almost bare. Fortunately, so far this year, we are having a very open winter, unlike last year, and there is still a good alternative source of food for the wild birds such as insects, slugs and worms. I have noticed lately, however, increased numbers of birds visiting the feeders in the garden as the natural supply of berries diminishes.

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3 Responses to January 2012

  1. Thomas Davis says:

    When I was young we used to walk in the foothills above Orchard Mesa, Colorado where we would see grouse, especially in the Spring and Fall. Your wonderful post brought those days back to me. I used to love walking the hills through the sagebrush and occasional juniper and pinyon tree, waiting for the thunder of grouse wings as one or more took flight close above the ground to escape the threat they thought we were. A different, more barren landscape from the moors, I suspect, but just as beautiful in its own way.

    • fryupress says:

      The moors can look barren but of course they aren’t. The description of where you walked reminded me of places described by Zane Grey, a western writer I used to read avidly when younger. I could always imagine riding along through the wonderful places that he wrote about!
      I never realised there were so many varieties of the grouse species in your country until someone visiting over here, who had a fascination with grouse, ordered one of my
      grouse canvas prints. We only have the one species but there are two others in Scotland.
      Today we woke up to our first snows of the winter!

  2. gonecycling says:

    I have fond memories of the moors, and of hearing and seeing the grouse, which for me, as a Southerner born and bred, were something entirely new and exotic! A friend and I used to go cycling over the moors for hours: we always reckoned conducting a traffic survey in Bransdale would be the best (and probably least demanding) job in the world!

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