Red grouse are game birds about the same size as a female Pheasant. They are plump with short legs, a short tail and a hook-tipped bill. They are dark reddish-brown in colour. They have a mechanical, barking/laughing call.
They are found in the heather moors of the Peak District all year round, feeding on heather and other moorland plants. They nest on the ground and young chicks feed on insects such as flies and the larvae of sawflies and craneflies. They are often seen when they are disturbed by walkers and suddenly fly up in the air with fast wing beats.
They are also on the amber list of birds of conservation concern due to declining population sizes.
Why we’re interested
Red grouse favour cooler upland environments. It might be expected, therefore, that as temperatures increase, conditions become less favourable for these birds and populations decline, particularly at lower elevations where conditions are warmer anyway.
Population declines may not necessarily be due to direct effects of higher temperatures, but may also be a result of increases in parasitism or reduced availability of insects for chicks if soils dry out.
The data collected in this survey will give an indication as to whether they are becoming less common over time and whether their distribution in the Peak District is changing, for example whether they are becoming less common in lower elevation areas.
Illustration (c) Mike Langman