Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Red Grouse Study Introduction (2)

I had to laugh this morning, after joining the Nature Blog Network yesterday and finding out today that they have categorised my blog in the 'Academic' section!
I guess this is the result of me naming this project 'Red Grouse Study'...Oh the irony!
Like I tried to explain yesterday, I have no aspirations to be some kind of Red Grouse scholar if you please, all I really want to do is learn a little bit about these fine birds and watch and photograph their behaviour.
I imagine that these reports will be more akin to a 'O level ' essay than some deep and groundbreaking scientific paper, but hey I'll do the best I can.

So to the star of the show...The Red Grouse.
I thought I'd get the ball rolling by giving a little bit of basic background information about the species...

Red Grouse Lagapus lagopus
The Red Grouse is a race of Willow Grouse that is only found in parts of Great Britain and Ireland.
While the European Willow Grouse has a largely white plumage, the Red Grouse is a reddish/brown colour.
A medium size Grouse standing 37-42 cm, they are a very plump bird with a small head and hooked-tipped bill.
The male of the species is much redder in colour than the female and has a red wattle above it's eyes.

The preferred habitat of the Red Grouse is extensive heather moorland, but it's also at home in areas of upland bog...The Peak District, where most of my observations will take place is perfect because it offers both of these scenarios.
The Red Grouse feeds mainly on the ground eating heather shoots and invertebrates such as Crane Fly.
Small young Grouse feed mainly on insects including Crane Fly, Beetles and Sawfly larvae as well as moorland plants.
The female Red Grouse usually lays 6-9 eggs in late April or May which are laid in a hollow that is scraped by the female amongst the heather or soft rush.
The female incubates, but the male is always close at hand.
The young are active soon after hatching and feed themselves.
The flight feathers of the young grow very quickly and they fledge in 11-12 days.
They are not fully grown until 30-35 days and they stay with their family for 6-8 weeks.

So that's the basics that I've learned through a little research...I now hope to provide my own insight into these birds over the next year or so...

Anthony Dixon R.A. (Reluctant Academic) Manchester, England.

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