Grouse broods are smaller but survival rate is good

GLORIOUS 12TH PREVIEW PHOTOCALL , GROUSE SHOOTING Horseupcleugh, Berwickshire.   ESTATE OWNED BY Robbie Douglas Miller FORMERLY OF JENNERS.  '''Ian Elliot - Grouse Keeper at Horseupcleugh , pictured with a gun and pointing dogs , on the grouse shoot.  posing with a gun. '''   PHOTO PHIL WILKINSON / TSPL
GLORIOUS 12TH PREVIEW PHOTOCALL , GROUSE SHOOTING Horseupcleugh, Berwickshire. ESTATE OWNED BY Robbie Douglas Miller FORMERLY OF JENNERS. '''Ian Elliot - Grouse Keeper at Horseupcleugh , pictured with a gun and pointing dogs , on the grouse shoot. posing with a gun. ''' PHOTO PHIL WILKINSON / TSPL
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PROSPECTS for this season’s grouse shooting that starts on August 12 are looking good across the Borders according to estate managers.

Ewan Harris of Sales and Partners, who work with a number of estates across in the Borders and further afield, says they are gearing up for a busy season.

Early indications are that the 2013 season is promising, with encouraging reports from keepers in the Lammermuirs – a welcome improvement on last year, which was one of the wettest in history.

Shooting managers have started their formal count of stocks which will give a more definitive picture in the lead-up to the Glorious Twelfth.

Ewan said: “Despite the horrendous wet weather last year, the autumn grouse stocks that were left have performed well. Some struggled in the cold spring with the frosts and late snow, and understandably broods were two or three weeks late in hatching. Brood sizes are smaller than usual, but the dry mild summer has meant that survival rates have been excellent. There are some concerns that the stocks will not have reached maturity in time for the Glorious Twelfth so we may see some shoots postponing until later in August.”

Speaking for the showers we have just experienced, he commented: “Grouse grow up in their natural environment on the moors and rely on young heather as a food source and fresh water.

“We are currently in the hottest and driest period in almost a decade, which is making it very difficult for the birds to find water on the dry moors. Keepers are concerned; lack of water is becoming a real issue, and only time will show how far these birds have wandered in search of water.”

Quite why 2012 turned out to be such a good season despite the appalling weather is still up for discussion. But many maintain that the hens were in very good condition when they started to nest (before the heavy rain) enabling them to rear good coveys. .