Green Ribbed Sedge

green ribbed sedge (top) and what it looks like once it has been through a blackcock.
green ribbed sedge (top) and what it looks like once it has been through a blackcock.

Just worth recording in brief my discovery of a new foodplant for the black grouse on the Chayne. I was watching a proud and illustrious bird sounding off on the peat haggs yesterday morning, and afterwards went up to inspect his display ground once he had cleared off. I found a few droppings which were surprisingly yellow, pointed at one end and shot through with brownish purple flecks. Black grouse eat a lot of pollen from trees and grasses through the year, and this is a good source of protein for them. I have found similarly yellow droppings in Sutherland, and while it looked very alarming to begin with, it seems that the colour of the pollen endures the digestive processes.

While I looked, it occurred to me that I was looking at a dropping made up of the remains of a certain plant which has been very conspicuous on the hill over the past few weeks. I found a sprig to photograph (above), and now that I’m indoors, I can see that it green-ribbed sedge – carex binervis. 

I found several other droppings elsewhere, and it seems like this blackcock is specifically targeting the sedge and eating it over all other available foodplants. Green ribbed sedge currently looks rather like cottongrass flowers did a month ago, when the pollen was spraying out of the heads, and I suppose that if grouse like the mosscrop then there is no reason why they shouldn’t feed on similar species when they are at a similar stage.

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