Red grouse

The red grouse, Lagopus lagopus scotica, is a medium-sized bird of the grouse family which is found in heather moorland in Great Britain and Ireland. It is usually classified as a subspecies of the willow ptarmigan but is sometimes considered to be a separate species, Lagopus scotica. It is also known as the moorcock, moorfowl or moorbird. Lagopus is derived from Ancient Greek lagos (λαγος), meaning "hare", + pous (πους), "foot", in reference to the feathered feet and toes typical of this cold-adapted genus, and scoticus is "of Scotland".[1]

The red grouse is widely known as the logo of The Famous Grouse whisky and an animated bird is a character in a series of its adverts. The red grouse is also the emblem of the journal British Birds.

Lagopede d'Ecosse MHNT
Red grouse eggs
Red grouse
2014-04-21 Lagopus lagopus scotica, Hawsen Burn 1
Song and calls recorded in the UK
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Phasianidae
Genus: Lagopus
L. l. scotica
Trinomial name
Lagopus lagopus scotica
(Latham, 1787)

Lagopus lagopus scoticus


The red grouse is differentiated from the willow ptarmigan and rock ptarmigan by its plumage being reddish brown, and not having a white winter plumage. The tail is black and the legs are white. There are white stripes on the underwing and red combs over the eye. Females are less reddish than the males and have less conspicuous combs. Young birds are duller and lack the red combs.

Birds in Ireland are sometimes thought to belong to a separate subspecies L. l. hibernica. They are slightly paler than those in Britain and the females have yellower plumage with more finely barred underparts. This may be an adaptation to camouflage them in moorland with higher grass and sedge content and less heather.

It is identified by its 'chut!chut!chut!chut!chut!chuttt....' call, or the 'Goback, goback, goback' vocalisation. The wings make a whirring sound when the bird is disturbed from a resting place.

Grouse populations display periodic cycling, where the population builds up to very high densities only to crash a few years later, and then recover. The main driver of this cyclic pattern is thought to be the parasitic nematode worm Trichostrongylus tenuis.

However, in his book,[2] V. C. Wynne-Edwards suggests that the primary reason for mortality in grouse population is homeostasis depending largely on food availability and that the 'Grouse disease', due to the parasitic worm Trichostrongylus tenuis is a mistaken diagnosis of the after effects of social exclusion.

Distribution and habitat

The red grouse is endemic to the British Isles; it has developed in isolation from other subspecies of the willow ptarmigan which are widespread in northern parts of Eurasia and North America.

It is found across most parts of Scotland, including Orkney, Shetland and most of the Outer Hebrides. They are only absent from urban areas, such as in the Central Belt.

In Wales there are strong populations in places but their range has retracted. They are now largely absent from the far south, their main strongholds being Snowdonia, the Brecon Beacons and the Cambrian Mountains. There are reports of Welsh birds crossing the Bristol Channel to Exmoor.

In England it is mainly found in the north – places such as the Lake District, Northumberland, County Durham, much of Yorkshire, the Pennines and the Peak District, as far south as the Staffordshire Moorlands. There is an isolated introduced population on Dartmoor, and overspill Welsh birds visit the Shropshire Hills such as Long Mynd, where they breed. The Exmoor population would now appear to be extinct, with the last birds sighted as recently as 2005. An introduced population in Suffolk died out by the early 20th century, though a population on Cannock Chase in Staffordshire lasted longer.

In Ireland it is found locally in most parts of the country: it is commonest in Mayo, where the population is increasing,[3] and on the Antrim plateau, with other healthy populations in the Slieve Bloom mountains and the Knockmealdown mountains;[4] a few pairs still breed in south County Dublin.

The small population in the Isle of Man is mostly concentrated in the southern hills but conservation work is ongoing throughout the uplands to ensure the species' continued viability.

Its typical habitat is upland heather moors away from trees. It can also be found in some low-lying bogs and birds may visit farmland during hard weather.

The British population is estimated at about 250,000 pairs with around 1–5,000 pairs in Ireland. Numbers have declined in recent years and birds are now absent in areas where they were once common. Reasons for the decline include loss of heather due to overgrazing, creation of new conifer plantations and a decline in the number of upland gamekeepers. Some predators such as the hen harrier feed on grouse and there is ongoing controversy as to what effect these have on grouse numbers.

Red grouse have been introduced to the Hautes Fagnes region of Belgium but the population there died out in the early 1970s.



The red grouse is herbivorous and feeds mainly on the shoots, seeds and flowers of heather. It will also feed on berries, cereal crops and sometimes insects.


The birds begin to form pairs during the autumn and males become increasingly territorial as winter progresses. The nest is a shallow scrape up to 20 cm across which is lined with vegetation. About six to nine eggs are laid, mainly during April and May. They are oval, glossy and pale yellow with dark brown blotches. The eggs are incubated for 19 to 25 days, the chicks can fly after 12 to 13 days after hatching and are fully grown after 30 to 35 days.


Member States of the European Union are obliged by virtue of Council Directive 2009/147/EC[5] on the conservation of wild birds (popularly called the Birds Directive ) to take the requisite measures for the protection of the red grouse; but as it is a species to which Annex II of the Directive applies, Article 7 permits hunting under national law, provided population levels are not threatened as a result. In 2002, Ireland was found by the European Court of Justice to be in breach of its obligations under the earlier Directive to protect the red grouse, in that it had allowed a crucial breeding ground to become degraded through overgrazing by sheep.[6] Conservation measures taken on foot of the judgment have seen the population in the area double from 400 to 800.

As a game bird

Heather burning
Controlled burning of heather, on a Derbyshire grouse moor

The red grouse is considered a game bird and is shot in large numbers during the shooting season which traditionally starts on August 12, known as the Glorious Twelfth. There is a keen competition among some London restaurants to serve freshly killed grouse on August 12, with the birds being flown from the moors and cooked within hours.

Grouse grit
Grouse grit

Shooting can take the form of 'walked up' (where shooters walk across the moor to flush grouse and take a shot) or 'driven' (where grouse are driven, often in large numbers, by 'beaters' towards the guns who are hiding behind a line of 'butts'). Many moors are managed to increase the density of grouse. Areas of heather are subjected to controlled burning; this allows fresh young shoots to regenerate, which are favoured by the grouse. Extensive predator control, including illegal killing of raptors,[7] is a feature of grouse moor management: foxes, stoats and crows are usually heavily controlled on grouse moors. The extent to which it occurs on grouse moors is hotly contested between conservation groups and shooting interests, and the subject generates a lot of media attention in relation to grouse moors and shooting.

In recent decades the practice of using medicated grit and direct dosing of birds against an endoparasite, the strongyle worm or threadworm (Trichostrongylus tenuis), has become part of the management regime on many moors.

As food

The flavour of grouse, like most game birds, develops if the bird is hung for a few days after shooting and before eating. Roasting is the most common way to cook a grouse.

The Cookery Book of Lady Clark of Tillypronie (1909) has 11 recipes for using grouse. The recipe "To cook old birds" runs as follows:[8]

Old grouse are not fit for cooking till the feathers pull very loosely from the "apron". When "high", put a piece of bread inside them while roasting; take out the bread before dishing, and throw it away. A good gravy should be served with them in a boat, none in the dish, but put the birds on a toast when bread is plentiful.

— Lady Clark of Tillypronie[8]

Scientific study

Because of their economic and social importance and some interesting aspects of their biology, red grouse have been widely studied. They were the subject of some of the earliest studies of population biology in birds, as detailed in The Grouse in Health and in Disease by Lord Lovat in 1911. Since the mid-20th century they have been subject to ongoing study by many organisations and individuals. Much work has been conducted by the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology in the eastern Cairngorms, and by the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust in the Central Highlands. There are a wide range of research activities still going on today and a wealth of published literature exists on all aspects of grouse biology.

Parasites and viruses

The red grouse may be infected by parasites and viruses which severely affect populations. Strongylosis or 'grouse disease' is caused by the strongyle worm, which induces damage and internal bleeding after burrowing into the cecum. This endoparasite is often eaten with the tops of young heather shoots and can lead to mortality and poor condition, including a decrease in the bird's ability to control the scent it emits.

First diagnosed in the UK in 2010, respiratory cryptosporidiosis, caused by Cryptosporidium baileyi, is present in approximately half the grouse moors in northern England, where it reduces natural survival and productivity of red grouse. [9]

Louping ill virus is a flavivirus (RNA virus), also known as sheep encephalomyelitis virus. Flaviviruses are transmitted by arthropods, and louping ill virus is transmitted by ticks. In red grouse, this virus can cause mortality as high as 78%.[10] The main tick vector is the sheep tick Ixodes ricinus. Although traditionally tick-borne diseases are thought to be caused when the parasite bites its host, it has been shown that red grouse chicks can be affected when they eat ticks with which they come into contact.[10] This virus may be a significant factor in red grouse populations.


  1. ^ Jobling, James A (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 217, 351. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  2. ^ Wynne Edwards, V. C. Evolution through Group Selection 1986 Blackwell Scientific Publications Oxford
  3. ^ Irish Birds Vol. 8 (2005-6) p.258
  4. ^ Irish Birds Vol.9 (2009) p.74
  5. ^ Codified version, replacing Council Directive 79/409/EC
  6. ^ Case C-117/00 Commission v Ireland Judgement of 13 June 2002
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b Frere, Catherine Frances (arranged and edited by) (1909). The Cookery Book of Lady Clark of Tillypronie. Constable and Co. pp. 142–143.
  9. ^ Baines, D.; Allinsom, H.; Duff, J.P.; Fuller, H.; Newborn, D.; Richardson, M. (2018). "Lethal and sub‐lethal impacts of respiratory cryptosporidiosis on Red Grouse, a wild gamebird of economic importance". Ibis. 160 (4): 882–891. doi:10.1111/ibi.12573.
  10. ^ a b Gilbert, L.; Jones, L. D.; Laurenson, M. K.; Gould, E. A.; Reid, H. W.; Hudson, P. J. (2004). "Ticks need not bite their red grouse hosts to infect them with louping ill virus". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 271 (Suppl 4): S202–S205. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2003.0147. PMC 1810039. PMID 15252984.

External links

Boulsworth Hill

Boulsworth Hill is a large expanse of moorland, the highest point of the South Pennines of south-eastern Lancashire, England, separating the Borough of Pendle from Calderdale.

Its summit, Lad Law, is 1,696 ft (517 m) above sea level, and commands views over Pendle Hill, the Forest of Bowland, the Yorkshire Dales and the South Pennines. On an exceptionally clear day it is possible to see Scafell Pike and Helvellyn to the north, Ferrybridge power station to the east, High Peak to the south and the Big One roller coaster at Blackpool Pleasure Beach to the west. The Brontë Way and the Pendle Way both pass along the slopes of Boulsworth Hill, providing routes of ascent from Nelson and Wycoller. A further possibility is to climb from Trawden, the nearest town to the summit, and it was originally intended that Boulsworth Hill would be a highlight of the Pennine Way, which instead passes to the east of the hill. Following the CRoW Act, Boulsworth Hill can now also be legally climbed from the Yorkshire side, near Hebden Bridge.The underlying rock is Millstone Grit, which is seen outcropping in several places and forming a steep scarp face along the summit. The hill is covered by acidic grassland, which provide a valuable breeding ground for red grouse, twite, golden plover and other birds.

It lies just inside Lancashire, although the county boundary with the West Yorkshire district of Calderdale passes just a mile to the southeast of Lad Law.

British Birds (magazine)

British Birds is a monthly ornithology magazine that was established in 1907. It is now published by BB 2000 Ltd, which is wholly owned by The British Birds Charitable Trust (registered charity number 1089422), established for the benefit of British ornithology. Its circulation in 2000 was 5,250 copies; its circulation peaked at 11,000 in the late 1980s. The current editor is Roger Riddington.

It is aimed at serious birdwatchers and ornithologists, rather than the more casual birdwatchers catered for by some other magazines on the subject. It publishes the findings of the British Birds Rarities Committee.

Its mascot, and later logo, the Red Grouse, was chosen because at the time it was thought to be an endemic British species (it is now considered a sub-species of the Willow Grouse).

In 1916, it absorbed The Zoologist, due to the latter's shortage of subscribers.


The Cairngorms (Scottish Gaelic: Am Monadh Ruadh) are a mountain range in the eastern Highlands of Scotland closely associated with the mountain of the Cairn Gorm. The Cairngorms became part of Scotland's second national park (the Cairngorms National Park) on 1 September 2003. Although the Cairngorms give their name to, and are at the heart of, the Cairngorms National Park, they only form one part of the national park, alongside other hill ranges such as the Angus Glens and the Monadhliath, and lower areas like Strathspey. The Cairngorms consists of high plateaux at about 1000–1200 m above sea level, above which domed summits (the eroded stumps of once much higher mountains ) rise to around 1300 m. Many of the summits have tors, free-standing rock outcrops that stand on top of the boulder-strewn landscape. The edges of the plateaux are in places steep cliffs of granite and they are excellent for skiing, rock climbing and ice climbing.

The Cairngorms form an arctic-alpine mountain environment, with tundra-like characteristics and long-lasting snow patches. This area is home to bird species such as ptarmigan, dotterel, snow bunting, curlew and red grouse, as well as mammals such as mountain hare. The plateaux also support Britain's only herd of reindeer. Surrounding the central massif are many remnants of the Caledonian forest in straths and glens of the Rivers Spey and Dee. These forests support many species that are rare elsewhere in Britain, including red squirrels, pine marten, wood ants, Scottish crossbill, capercaillie and crested tit.There are no glaciers but snow can fall in any month of the year and snow patches usually persist all summer; for snow and ice climbing the area is the most dependable in Britain. The mountains are also popular for hill-walking, ski touring and climbing, and there is a ski centre on the northern side of the range, at Cairngorm Mountain.

The range lies in the Scottish council areas of Aberdeenshire, Moray and Highland, and within the counties of Aberdeenshire, Inverness-shire and Banffshire.

Driven grouse shooting

Driven grouse shooting is the hunting of the red grouse, a field sport of the United Kingdom. It is popular because it provides a challenge due to the rapid flight of the grouse. The grouse shooting season extends from 12 August, often called the "Glorious Twelfth", to 10 December each year. Shooting takes place on grouse moors, areas of moorland in northern England and Scotland.

Glorious Twelfth

The Glorious Twelfth is the twelfth day of August, the start of the shooting season for red grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica), and to a lesser extent the ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This is one of the busiest days in the shooting season, with large amounts of game being shot. The date itself is traditional; the current legislation enshrining it in England and Wales is the Game Act 1831 (and in Northern Ireland, the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985). Not all game (as defined by the 1831 act) have the same start to their open seasons – most begin on 1 September, with 1 October for woodcock and pheasant.

Since English law prohibits game bird shooting on a Sunday, the start date is postponed to 13 August on years when the 12th falls on a Sunday.

Because grouse are not and never have been reared to any extent for shooting, their numbers fluctuate naturally from year to year. In recent years, the Glorious Twelfth has also been hit by hunt saboteurs, the 2001 foot and mouth crisis (which further postponed the date in affected areas) and the effect of sheep tick, heather beetle, the gut parasite Trichostrongylus tenuis and severe flooding and bad weather. In some seasons where certain moors are hit by low numbers of grouse, shooting may not occur at all or be over by September.


Grouse are a group of birds from the order Galliformes, in the family Phasianidae. Grouse are frequently assigned to the subfamily Tetraoninae (sometimes Tetraonidae), a classification supported by mitochondrial DNA sequence studies, and applied by the American Ornithologists' Union, ITIS, and others. Grouse inhabit temperate and subarctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere, from pine forests to moorland and mountainside, from 83°N (rock ptarmigan in northern Greenland) to 28°N (Attwater's prairie chicken in Texas).

Hexhamshire Moors

Hexhamshire Moors is a Site of Special Scientific Interest covering an extensive area of moorland in the Wear Valley district of north-west County Durham and the Tynedale district of south-west Northumberland, England.

It is a broadly rectangular area, occupying most of the upland between the valleys of the River East Allen to the west and Devil's Water to the east. The southern part of the site shares boundaries with the Muggleswick, Stanhope and Edmundbyers Commons and Blanchland Moor SSSI to the east and is separated from the Allendale Moors SSSI only by a very narrow strip of the East Allen valley.

The area has one of the largest expanses of blanket bog and heathland in northern England. Acid bogs occur in the vicinity of the numerous flushes that drain the moorland plateau, and localised patches of acid grassland have developed in areas that are regularly grazed by sheep.Floristically, much of the area is species-poor, but there are small populations of some nationally scarce species, including bog orchid, Hammarbya paludosa, which is found on the blanket peat, and forked spleenwort, Asplenium septentrionale, whose presence at one locality in the Northumberland part of the site is, to date, the only known record for that county.

The site's principal importance lies in its nationally important breeding populations of birds: three species—merlin, Eurasian golden plover and short-eared owl—are listed in Annex 1 of the European Commission's Birds Directive as requiring special protection and several others, including red grouse, Eurasian curlew, common redshank, Eurasian oystercatcher and dunlin, are listed in the United Kingdom's Red Data Book (Birds).Much of the moorland heath also supports a rich assemblage of invertebrates, including several scarce species of ground beetle, Carabidae.

The site is within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.


Lagopus is a small genus of birds in the grouse subfamily commonly known as ptarmigans (). The genus contains three living species with numerous described subspecies, all living in tundra or cold upland areas.

Louping ill

Louping-ill is an acute viral disease primarily of sheep that is characterized by a biphasic fever, depression, ataxia, muscular incoordination, tremors, posterior paralysis, coma, and death. Louping-ill is a tick-transmitted disease whose occurrence is closely related to the distribution of the primary vector, the sheep tick Ixodes ricinus. It also causes disease in red grouse, and can affect humans. The name 'louping-ill' is derived from an old Scottish word describing the effect of the disease in sheep whereby they 'loup' or spring into the air.

Lune Forest

Lune Forest is a Site of Special Scientific Interest covering an extensive area of moorland in the Teesdale district of west Durham, England. In the north, where it adjoins the Upper Teesdale and Appleby Fells SSSIs, it extends from Mickle Fell eastward almost as far as Harter Fell, above the hamlet of Thringarth. Its southern limit is marked by the River Balder, upstream from Balderhead Reservoir, where it shares a boundary with Cotherstone Moor SSSI to the south. Grains o' th' Beck Meadows and Close House Mine SSSIs are entirely surrounded by Lune Forest, but do not form part of it.

The area has one of the most extensive areas of relatively undisturbed blanket bog in northern England, as well as a number of upland habitats, including wet and dry heath, acid grassland, limestone grassland and flushes.The predominant vegetation is blanket mire, in which heather, Calluna vulgaris, and hare's-tail cottongrass, Eriophorum vaginatum, are co-dominant. On higher ground, to the west, dwarf shrubs such as cloudberry, Rubus chamaemorus, and crowberry, Empetrum nigrum, are more frequent. Where steep slopes have inhibited peat formation, the blanket mire gives way to dry heath, in which heather, wavy hair-grass, Deschampsia flexuosa, and bilberry, Vaccinium myrtillus, are the dominant species.

In the northern part of the site, areas where the underlying limestone outcrops at the surface, or has been cut into by small streams, are marked by bands of grassland, typically dominated by mat-grass, Nardus stricta, and with herbs such as heath bedstraw, Galium saxatile, and tormentil, Potentilla erecta. Where the limestone soils are thinner, a more species-rich grassland is found: wild thyme, Thymus praecox, and selfheal, Prunella vulgaris, are common, and in some places there are large populations of spring gentian, Gentiana verna, a nationally rare species that is found nowhere else in Great Britain outside the Teesdale area.The area supports breeding populations of several important birds: merlin, short-eared owl and Eurasian golden plover are listed in Annex 1 of the European Commission's Birds Directive as requiring special protection, while black grouse, red grouse, dunlin, Northern lapwing, ring ouzel and twite are listed in the United Kingdom's Red Data Book (Birds).The site is within the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Muggleswick, Stanhope and Edmundbyers Commons and Blanchland Moor

Muggleswick, Stanhope and Edmundbyers Commons and Blanchland Moor is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in County Durham and Northumberland, England. It consists of two separate areas, the larger—encompassing the upland areas of Muggleswick, Stanhope and Edmundbyers Commons—in the Derwentside and Wear Valley districts of north Durham, the smaller—Blanchland Moor—in the Tynedale district of south-west Northumberland.The site has one of the most extensive areas of dry heath in northern England. There are also areas of wet heath, acid grassland, flushes, relict juniper woodland and small areas of open water.

The dry heath is dominated by heather, Calluna vulgaris, and wavy hair-grass, Deschampsia flexuosa; the regionally rare bearberry, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, is found on the higher parts of Blanchland Moor. Other noteworthy plants are the nationally scarce pale forget-me-not, Myosotis stolonifera, and the regionally rare round-leaved crowfoot, Ranunculus omiophyllus, and ivy-leaved bellflower, Wahlenbergia hederacea, all of which occur in the vicinity of streams, and the nationally scarce spring sandwort, Minuartia verna, one of a number of metallophytes that occur on old spoil heaps around disused lead-mines on Stanhope Common.As with the rest of the North Pennines moorlands, of which these areas form part, the site is home to nationally important breeding populations of a number of birds. Three species—merlin, Eurasian golden plover and short-eared owl—are listed in Annex 1 of the European Commission's Birds Directive as requiring special protection; the high density of merlin is particularly noteworthy. Other breeding species include red grouse, Eurasian curlew, common redshank, common snipe and dunlin, which are listed in the United Kingdom's Red Data Book (Birds).

Ruabon Moors

Ruabon Moors are an area of upland moorland in Wales to the west of Ruabon and Wrexham. They lie partly within Wrexham county borough and partly within Denbighshire.

In the northern part of the moors are the areas known as Minera Mountain and Esclusham Mountain. Further south are Ruabon Mountain and Eglwyseg Mountain. In the west the moors reach their greatest height at Cyrn-y-Brain, 565 metres (1,854 ft) above sea level. To the north and north-east, the moors are bounded by Minera Limeworks and the Clywedog valley. In the east they slope down to the villages of Rhosllannerchrugog and Ruabon. There are several small reservoirs in this area. At the southern edge of the moors the cliffs of Eglwyseg Rocks overlook the River Dee and the Vale of Llangollen. On the western side there are more cliffs at World's End while the Horseshoe Pass separates the moors from Llantysilio Mountain. Llandegla Forest, a large conifer plantation, covers the north-western side.

Ruabon Moors are part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest and hold a wide variety of plant and animal life. Large parts of the moors are covered with heather. Where there are outcrops of limestone on the surface a number of scarce plants can be found such as prickly sedge, dark red helleborine and rigid buckler-fern.

The moors are managed for red grouse shooting. Huge numbers were shot in the past (an average of 4658 per year from 1900 to 1913) but numbers have now decreased dramatically. The area is also home to black grouse and a major conservation programme has caused their population to increase in recent years. Other birds which can be seen include peregrine falcon, merlin, hen harrier, short-eared owl and ring ouzel.

The area has been modified by human activity since prehistoric times when people built cairns and cleared the original forest. Mining has taken place in the area since Roman times and there are still many shafts of disused lead, zinc, silver and coal mines dotting the area. During the Second World War bombs were dropped on the moors by German planes heading to and from Liverpool and a number of bomb craters can still be seen today.

The area is popular with walkers and rock-climbers and the Offa's Dyke Path crosses the region.

It is rife with controversy after two satellite tagged hen harriers mysteriously disappeared here in 2018 and a raven was found poisoned in 2019.

Simon Barnes

Simon Barnes is an English journalist. He was Chief Sports Writer of The Times until 2014, and also wrote a wildlife opinion column in the Saturday edition of the same newspaper. He has also written three novels.Barnes was educated at Emanuel School, and studied English Literature at the University of Bristol, which awarded Barnes an honorary Doctorate in 2007.After beginning his journalism career on local newspapers in Britain, he travelled to Hong Kong, where he wrote for travel magazines and, briefly, the South China Morning Post. After his return to Britain, he became a sports writer for The Times, being promoted in time to the position of Chief Sports Writer. He is the author of 16 books including three novels. His latest book, Birdwatching With your Eyes Closed: An Introduction to Birdsong, was published in 2011. Barnes has also appeared in a number of programmes on BBC Radio 2, including a reading of his book, How to Be a Bad Birdwatcher.

Barnes lives in Norfolk. He was on The Times team at the 2012 London Olympics, the seventh summer Games that he has covered for the newspaper. In March 2009 he was runner-up in the Sports Journalists' Association's 'Sports Columnist of the Year' award, an award he won in 2008.

In June 2014 Barnes was sacked by The Times after 32 years employment, the newspaper having informed him it could no longer afford to pay his salary. Speculation in some sections of the UK media that the real reason may have been Barnes's outspoken views expressed in his wildlife opinion column. The column blamed illegal activity by red grouse shooting interests on the continued persecution and near extinction of the hen harrier in England. Writing in his new website and blog which he began after leaving The Times in 2014, Simon Barnes wrote: "Certainly I have annoyed some powerful people."

Slieve Bloom Mountains

The Slieve Bloom Mountains (Irish: Sliabh Bladhma) are a mountain range in Ireland. They rise from the central plain of Ireland to a height of 527 metres. While not very high, they are extensive by local standards. The highest points are Arderin (527 m) (Irish: Ard Éireann) at the southwestern end of the range and Baunreaghcong (511 m) at the end of the Ridge of Capard.

The Slieve Bloom Mountains stretch from near Roscrea in the south west to Rosenallis in the north west forming a link between County Laois and County Offaly. Access to the mountains and the most popular attractions is easiest by taking Exit 18 off the M7 for Mountmellick and following the R422 for Rosenallis, Clonaslee, Cadamstown, and Kinnitty. There are 3 routes which cross the mountain. From Clonaslee here it is very easy to follow the mountain road over 'the Cut' towards Mountrath. From Kinnitty take the road from the centre of the village opposite the Catholic Church past Longford Church to Glendine Gap near Ard Erin the highest point in the mountain. For some splendid views turn left onto the R440 towards Kinnitty one of the small villages nestled at the foot of the mountains.

Looped walking trails have been developed at 6 trail heads in the Slieve Blooms, Glenbarrow, Clonaslee, Cadamstown, Kinnitty, Glenafelly Forest Car Park and Glen Monicknew. Walking trails are colour-coded green easy, blue moderate, and red most difficult. The 84 km Slieve Bloom Way colour-coded yellow can be accessed from any of these trailheads. In Cadamstown take time to walk the Silver River Eco Trail.

Glenbarrow waterfalls are located just a few miles from Rosenallis. Some scenic looped walks will take you to the falls and up onto the Ridge of Capard. There is a significant population of red grouse in the hills.

The Slieve Bloom, along with the Massif Central in France, are one of the oldest mountains in Europe; they were once also the highest at 3,700m. Weathering has reduced them to 527m. On a clear day, one can see the high points of the four ancient provinces of Ireland.

Teesdale Allotments

Teesdale Allotments is a Site of Special Scientific Interest in the Teesdale district of County Durham, England. It consists of two large upland areas north of the Tees valley, one to the north and east of the village of Newbiggin, the other to the north-east of Middleton-in-Teesdale.

The area, which adjoins the Upper Teesdale SSSI, consists of enclosed upland grazings, and is of national importance for its bird populations. Species that breed in the area include Northern lapwing, common snipe, common redshank, Eurasian golden plover, black grouse and Eurasian curlew, all except the last of which are declining in numbers nationally. Densities of breeding waders are among the highest in Britain, with up to 90 pairs recorded from one 1 km square.The black grouse population is particularly important: while this species has declined almost everywhere in England, and is now extinct in some former breeding areas, such as Dartmoor and Exmoor, the population in Teesdale has remained relatively stable, and the area now holds 30 percent of the English population, 7 percent of it in the Teesdale Allotments.

Other breeding birds include common teal, merlin, red grouse, short-eared owl, ring ouzel, and Northern wheatear, all of which are listed, or are candidates for listing, in the United Kingdom's Red Data Book (Birds). Three breeding species—merlin, golden plover and short-eared owl—are listed in Annex 1 of the European Commission's Birds Directive as requiring special protection.

The Famous Grouse

The Famous Grouse is a brand of blended Scotch whisky, first produced by Matthew Gloag & Son in 1896, and currently produced and owned by The Edrington Group. The single malt whiskies used in The Famous Grouse blend include the Edrington-owned Highland Park and The Macallan. Its emblem is the Red Grouse, Scotland's national game bird.It has been the highest selling whisky brand in Scotland since 1980. As a standard price blended Scotch whisky, its main competitors in its home market are Bell's, Teacher's and Grant's. The majority of its UK sales are during the Christmas period.


Trefil is a small village in the county borough of Blaenau Gwent, south Wales. It lies at the top of the Sirhowy Valley, three miles northwest of Tredegar. The boundary of the Brecon Beacons National Park lies one mile to the north of the village.

The village is sited in the bottom of a broad valley which cuts through the moorlands between the Heads of the Valleys Road and the Dyffryn Crawnon valley to the north. At 409 metres (1,342 ft) above sea level, the Ordnance Survey recognise Trefil as the highest village in Wales. Trefil is served by a single cul-de-sac road which leaves the A465 Heads of the Valleys Road 1.5 miles to the south.Trefil is perhaps best known for its limestone quarries – a major one immediately north of the village is operational whilst Cwar yr Ystrad, Cwar yr Hendre and Cwar Blaen-dyffryn to the west and northwest are no longer operational. The Trefil Tramroad and the Sirhowy Tramroad formerly linked the quarries with the heavily industrialised areas to the south, providing limestone for the furnaces. The former Brinore Tramroad connected the quarries at Trefil with the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal at Talybont in the Usk Valley to the north.

Open moorland rises to east and west of the village, the slopes to the west being known as Trefil Ddu and those to the east as Trefil Las. The moorland of Mynydd Llangynidr to the east undulates considerably and contains a number of caves beneath its surface. Most famous amongst these is Chartist's Cave one mile to the northeast of the village

The village name may derive from the terms 'tref' and 'mil' signifying the 'farm of the lesser celandine', a plant which might be expected to grow in the stream which flows through the place, the Nant Trefil.Trefil Quarries and Trefil Ddu are noted birdwatching sites; this area is the last remaining site in Gwent where ring ouzel occurs regularly, and other species present include raven, wheatear, stonechat, whinchat, snipe and red grouse.

Two Rock

Two Rock (Irish: Binn Dá Charraig; archaic: Black Mountain; Sliab Lecga (meaning Mountain of Flagstones)) is a mountain in Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, Ireland. It is 536 metres (1,759 feet) high and is the 382nd highest mountain in Ireland. It is the highest point of the group of hills in the Dublin Mountains which comprises Two Rock, Three Rock, Kilmashogue and Tibradden Mountains. The mountain takes its name from the two granite tors that lie to the south-east of the summit. From the summit, which is called Fairy Castle, there are views of much of the Dublin area from Tallaght to Howth to the north while Bray Head, Killiney Hill, the Great Sugar Loaf and the Wicklow Mountains are visible to the south. The summit area is mostly shallow bog while ferns and gorse cover the lower slopes. The mountain is also an important habitat for red grouse.A number of prehistoric monuments can be found on the mountain including a passage tomb on the summit and a wedge tomb on the slopes near Ballyedmonduff.

Willow ptarmigan

The willow ptarmigan () (Lagopus lagopus) is a bird in the grouse subfamily Tetraoninae of the pheasant family Phasianidae. It is also known as the willow grouse and in Ireland and Britain, where it was previously considered to be a separate species, as the red grouse. It is a sedentary species, breeding in birch and other forests and moorlands in northern Europe, the tundra of Scandinavia, Siberia, Alaska and northern Canada, in particular in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is the state bird of Alaska. In the summer the birds are largely brown, with dappled plumage, but in the winter they are white with some black feathers in their tails (British populations do not adopt a winter plumage). The species has remained little changed from the bird that roamed the tundra during the Pleistocene. Nesting takes place in the spring when clutches of four to ten eggs are laid in a scrape on the ground. The chicks are precocial and soon leave the nest and while they are young, both parents play a part in caring for them. The chicks eat insects and young plant growth while the adults are completely herbivorous, eating leaves, flowers, buds, seeds and berries during the summer and largely subsisting on the buds and twigs of willow and other dwarf shrubs and trees during the winter.

Game animals and shooting in the United Kingdom
Game birds
Quarry species
Other quarry
See also

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