When I found the first black grouse on the Chayne in over two years, I was thrilled. When I saw the second, I could hardly believe my luck. It turns out that I shouldn’t have believed my luck. I saw the same bird twice, and so it seems like we have a single black grouse cock on the farm. It is not to say that there aren’t others around, but this bird in particular is making his presence felt near the farm buildings and across the inbye fields.
What is so remarkable about him is the fact that he seems to have fallen out of the sky. I have absolutely no idea where he has come from, or what his intentions are. I haven’t yet discovered if he has managed to bring a greyhen along with him, so it could be that all his displaying and posturing is for nothing. From what I can gather, he is a young bird, and although he is an isolated and extraordinary anomaly at the moment, it shows that breeding birds are around and the potential is there to regenerate the population. Factor in the possibility that the shepherd saw a greyhen over the hill three weeks ago and you start to get an idea of how spread out and sparse these birds have become on the Chayne.
From what I can gather, my blackcock has switched his lekking ground away from where I first saw him last week in the lambing field to the shepherd’s garden, and he contents himself with displaying up and down her fence and over her lawn every morning at dawn. Last time I went up to visit, he glided down over the road from the hill above me and landed beneath a willow tree. He flew like a fantastic streak of blue and red and the image is now imprinted in my mind. After a moment to rearrange himself, he popped up into the willow and started eating buds like some sort of extraordinary hen. I watched him for half an hour until he suddenly got bored and dropped down into a wet patch above the house’s septic tank.
God knows where he came from, God knows why he’s chosen to live in the shepherd’s garden and God knows what will happen next. I just worry that if he doesn’t have a female to entertain, then he and I are both wasting our time.