Friday, 10 June 2011
Pleasure and Pain
I think I'm going to have to exchange my tweeds for a black PVC number.
As I've said many times before, the Red Grouse is a wild bird. We do what we can to make conditions as favourable for them as possible, but at the end of the day they are at the mercy of the vagries of nature. To me that's both the pleasure and the pain of working with them.
For whatever reason, it seems to have been a particularly difficult season to try and work out how they are faring. However it seems to be becoming more apparent that there are a few factors at work here.
Firstly, the brilliant weather we had in spring has encouraged them to lay early. We're reckoning about 2 weeks early. Subsequently, this cold wet weather has taken a toll on the chicks. Check out the photo- this chick has just died where it lay. And it's not the only one I've found like this.
Even worse, you'll also see a picture of a dead hen bird. If they have a high tristrongyl worm burden, the strain of sitting on eggs (and not feeding) can tip them over the edge. And we've seen a few like this too.
Things were looking so good in the run-up to the nesting season- good weather, excellent stocks of grouse, and a surprisingly low number of predators. I was thinking we were in 'pleasure' mode.
We're still looking for the very few foxes that we know are knocking about. As a result, I've had 6 hours sleep in the last 2 nights. I hope that's the reason for my black outlook. At the moment, as a way of punishing yourself, S&M seems preferrable to grouse keepering. It would certainly be easier.
On the upside, some grouse are still sitting on eggs (the picture of the nest was taken yesterday). Furthermore, because of the early nesting, any healthy birds that have lost whole broods will have a bit more time for a second brood.
Another plus, is that a lot of the surviving chicks are well on now. Many are already at the fluttering stage. This is a thing we always like to see- it means the chick has some chance of escaping danger should it appear.
Now, could someone call a locksmith please? I seem to have mislaid the keys for my fluffy handcuffs.