The earlier pictures were taken on my wee compact Canon ixus 970IS, which involved sneaking up on the butterflies. This can be very frustrating when they fly off, but very rewarding when they don't!

Since 2012 I have been using a Panasonic Lumix FZ150, which allows me to zoom in to the butterflies from a couple of metres away.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Red Grouse

Early yesterday morning I drove across the Lammermuir Hills, just south of where we live. The sun was just hitting an old stone sheep pen and below it I noticed a Red Grouse, Lagopus lagopus scotica.

I turned onto a track and slowly drove closer and watched as it flew up onto the sheep pen. Another grouse came out of the vegetation and drank from a puddle in the track. It was amazing how close they would let me get in the car. Had I been on foot they would have flown off before I could get anywhere near them!

Grouse shooting brings in a lot of income for the landowners in this area. People will spend thousands of pounds for a day's shoot. As a result a lot of effort is put into creating the perfect habitat for them. Grouse mainly eat the shoots of Heather, and to keep a mosaic of different stages of Heather, various areas will be burnt each winter. This Heather will then form fresh shoots in the spring for the young Grouse to feed on, while the older, taller Heather offers them shelter. Sheep also graze the hills to keep the grasses down.
If the hills were left unmanaged, they would most likely be covered in trees!

The Grouse struggled through two very poor years in 2011 and 2012, suffering from parasites and with the bad weather. This year they have done very well and there seem to be thousands of them on the hills. It is ironic that there would be far fewer Grouse around if people didn't shoot them!


  1. Good morning!:) Fantastic captures Nick! The only wild game I see on our farm are partridge, but this is a bird I have never ever seen. I think their stocky build, small beaks and thick feathery legs are unique, and well adapted to their envirament, in fact I associate these birds with the highlands of N. Scotland.
    Interesting fact about their diet of heather, and what is done to ensure there are plenty of new shoots.
    Have a good week!:)

  2. Thanks Sonjia. I would have liked to have spent longer and got a little closer to them, but I was conscious that there is a shoot most Saturdays at this time of year and I noticed a few people staring at me as they drove past! They are lovely birds, particularly when the sun catches their feathers. The young seem to be able to fly when they are only a couple of days old.

  3. The only other time that I have seen pictures of grouse is on some whisky bottles. I really cant understand why people áre willing to part with thousands of pounds just to shoot the grouse. Does the meat taste like turkey?

    1. Hi Elsie,
      I think many people shoot the grouse for the "sport" and don't actually eat the birds. I am not keen on corporate shooting parties, but don't mind people who shoot to feed themselves. I have never eaten grouse. It is a very dark meat, so I guess it must be quite strongly flavoured. I suppose that a grouse has a fairly natural life up until the moment it is shot, unlike many of our farm animals.

  4. I would love to see a Red Grouse (a live one). Nick, I posted a special, Sunny post for you on my blog because you mentioned the cold grey. I've been down a bit myself and doing a Sunny post was good for me. Had to get out and about. Couldn't ID most of what I found though. I was a bit surprised to see such beautiful scenery and sunshine on your blog! ;) What a difference a month makes, eh? Very nice photography.

    1. Hi Sue,
      I enjoyed your sunny pictures. Thanks! The Grouse is a lovely bird, and it makes a very haunting noise, particularly on a misty morning. We have had a few sunny days recently, but today we hardly had any daylight! I always find a walk on a sunny a great tonic.