Although I hadn’t meant it to, this blog has become overwhelmed with posts about black grouse. I am utterly in love with the birds, and seeing them properly for the first time this spring has skyrocketed them up my list of favourite British birds. Finding them on the farm was a tremendous boost, and I have now canvassed advice and opinions from a variety of southwest Scotland’s keenest and most knowledgeable experts in order to keep them there.
Even a cursory comparison between black grouse habitat on the Chayne and that found in the Galloway Forest Park shows what a mountain I have to climb. I have put two photographs together to compare the vegetation and found it to be a depressing experience. Both photographs show lek sites, but the one on the Chayne only has a single active male while the one at the Galloway Forest Park can have up to twenty. Heather and a variety of trees at different ages can be seen across the whole hillside in the Forest Park, providing an enormous quantity of “marginal” vegetation and shelter for birds. By comparison, the Chayne is simply open rushes and grass, bounded by a wall of mature forestry. There isn’t a stick of heather to be seen.
The comparison doesn’t show the Chayne in a very good light, but it is to be hoped that my work will change things round a little.