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Roadkill at Alston

Flat black grouse poult at Garrigill.
Flat black grouse poult at Garrigill.

It was a grand morning to be up and about in the North Pennines, around the back of Knarsdale and down to Garrigill in the sunshine. There was not much to be seen from the road, but a coffee with friends in Teesdale assured me that the black grouse poults are there and doing well. Simultaneously confirming and refuting this sentiment, I found a  poult squished on the road coming back down to Alston, and I stopped to take this rather grisly photograph (above). All kinds of gamebirds like spending time on roads, particularly after a wet, cold night. The tarmac allows them to dry out and there is always grit to be taken, so it is hardly surprising that some should pass under the wheels. It is obviously a great shame, particularly since this little bird was well on and would have come up nicely.

I did spot a shabby old blackcock while heading up to an appointment with some heather beetles near Haltwhistle, and he gave me an opportunity to reflect on the ignominy of summer moulting. With a brown head and little white beard, he was no longer the proud, boastful bird of April…

Brown headed and undignified in the moult.
Brown headed and undignified in the moult.
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