Red Grouse keepers are seldom overtly optimistic - but prospects for this shooting season in Scotland, starting shortly on the ‘Glorious 12th’ of August, are encouraging with moors across the country planning a fairly full shoot programme, according to Ralph Peters, head of estate management at property consultants Bidwells.
The spring counts, carried out before nesting started, confirmed that the good stock of grouse left at the end of the 2016 season had fared well during the winter and there were encouraging numbers of pairs of birds in good health going into the 2017 breeding season.
Ralph Peters said:
The annual pre-season counts are ongoing but there is a feeling of welcome optimism due to the healthy breeding stock and the warm, relatively benign spring and early summer.
There have been some deluges of rain in June and July but the general feeling is that these will have done the grouse little harm.
The north suffered from some late snow, possibly harming early hatches, however, the hope is that it was early enough to allow for a second brood, meaning there will be some shooting albeit not until later in August and perhaps on a reduced programme.
The downside of wet, mild winters is the tick and strongyle worm-friendly conditions created, both of which can have a negative impact on the health of grouse and other moorland birds. There are reports from across the country of dead chicks being found with significant tick burdens even where modern moorland management techniques are employed in an effort to reduce this threat, not only to grouse but other moorland birdlife as well.
As expected, in line with good moorland management and reasonable weather, many other species, particularly waders, have also done well.