Amidst the developing gloom and gnashing of teeth brought on by the enduring nature of this moderate weather precisely at the peak of the black grouse hatch, I thought it would be cheering to include a couple of photographs of black grouse chicks which I took on the Isle of Arran a couple of years ago while visiting their reintroduction project. In fairness, it is not as bad as it could be, but there is none of the hot sun that makes a game bird chick nod off in contentment, nor is there the mild, warming breeze that is effectively a tonic for all of young life’s troubles.
After this spring, I am more convinced than ever that the two key drivers behind black grouse breeding failure (particularly in Dumfries and Galloway) are crow predation on eggs and wet weather in the first few days after the hatch. The chicks in these pictures are around two or three weeks old. If they can survive another week then their chances of making it to adulthood are pretty good (goshawks permitting) even in Galloway, but these first few days present an irresistible hurdle to the huge majority of young birds.
I have fingers crossed, but my hair is going as grey as the cloud which is currently scraping its hull on the cairn above the moor.