WHERE TO WATCH GROUSE?

Bird Watching (UK) - - Bird The World -

Any visit to the High­lands in spring and sum­mer will also give you a great chance to catch up with the UK’S four species of grouse, maybe even in one day. Here’s how to find them…

RED GROUSE: Com­mon­est of the four, and found among the heather in many ar­eas of open moor­land – you might even see them skim­ming across moor­land roads. Dark brown with a red­dish tinge, the males have bright red ‘eye­brows’, and make a loud, nasal bark. Large groups pos­si­ble, as well as sin­gle birds.

BLACK GROUSE: Larger than Red Grouse, and usu­ally found on wood­land edges or in clear-felled ar­eas. Males are blue-black with red brows and white un­der tails, which they fan promi­nently when dis­play­ing to each other at leks. They con­tinue to do this even when fe­males aren’t present – early morn­ing is the best time to look for them.

PTARMIGAN: In sum­mer, they will have lost much if not all of their white plumage, so can be hard to find among the rocks and boul­ders of their moun­tain­top homes. Cairn­gorm re­mains the best place to look – al­ways stick to the paths and slowly scan ridge­lines and near hori­zons for a tell-tale head mov­ing. If ap­proached, they of­ten sit tight.

CAPER­CAIL­LIE: Found in conifer for­est, where they of­ten perch on low branches, they’re our largest grouse by far. The male is purple-black with a large, long tail fanned in dis­play, while the fe­male has an orange-brown throat and ru­fous tail. You may get lucky and stum­ble upon birds at sites around places such as Aber­nethy For­est (look on wood­land rides at first light), but your best chance is as part of an or­gan­ised tour.

MEM­O­RABLE SIGHT An en­counter with a cock Caper­cail­lie won’t be for­got­ten in a hurry

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