Friday, 4 June 2010
It's been a full-on week. Monday saw a 3am start with all of us out spying for foxes. Three of us spotted a fox that disappeared over the top of a distant hill and we took off in hot pursuit. It was fully half an hour before we arrived gasping and heaving at places where we could see the next bit of ground. Foxy, of course, was nowhere to be seen.
Unlike the hoodies you get in the town, we're allowed to shoot ours. I've spent a bit of time this week re-checking trees, just in case there's a late nest. I've also been re-checking cairns in case foxes have moved in from locations unknown. Crow cages and stoat traps have also been taking a lot of my time. We've also had a half day patching up roads.
Grouse chicks are starting to hatch out now and I've been helping researchers catch them up. They record brood size, age, weight, size, tick burden and location. Then they'll check on them again after a few days. I have to say, I'm pretty dejected at the poor numbers in the broods. Don't ask me what the cause is, as neither the weather nor the tick numbers appear bad enough to have killed them off. Maybe the hen grouse were in poorer condition after the winter we had, but then why were there decent clutches on the nests that I found? These bloomin' birds dont half keep you guessing.
There are pics of Lapwing and Oystercatcher chicks this time. It gives me a real buzz knowing that the work we do for our grouse also helps safeguard them. Oh, and there's a prize for spotting the odd one out.