Summer Blues?

A blackcock near Alston in Cumbria

It’s been a while since I’ve seen signs of black grouse on the Chayne. They’re certainly still going around, but the majority seem to be on the neighbouring property to the north of the farm. While he was alive, my favourite blackcock provided a good focal point for birds in an easily accessible spot, but since his demise in March, birds seem to pass through rather than spend any time there.

The main obstacle to seeing black grouse on the Chayne is the sheer inaccessible nature of the land. More than two hundred acres of the hill are cut off during wet weather by a huge system of quivering moss banks, and I wouldn’t like to try and cross them even on foot. Last year it was dry enough to walk over without any trouble at all, but no such luck this time around. Add that to the fact that the grass is high and the grouse will be in full moult by now and it’s hardly surprising that I haven’t seen much sign of birds.

The weather forecast has been speaking in vague terms about an “Indian Summer”, so hopefully the farm will dry out enough for me to find out if there any poults up there in a few weeks. Until then, it’s just a matter of keeping my head down and doing what little work is still possible in this constant rain.

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