The Black Grouse

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9781906122430: The Black Grouse

This is the first book to be written on this fascinating, severely declining species, the black grouse. Author Patrick Laurie's lively natural history is interwoven with his account of his on-going battle to reintroduce them on his farm in the Scottish Borders. His beautiful illustrations convey his passion for these vulnerable birds, so full of character, from their aggressive lekking behaviour to their desperate struggle to survive against nearly-impossible odds in modern Britain. * Black grouse range in Britain has shrunk by 95% in the past 100 years, with 25% of that decline since the 1990s. * Mature black grouse consistently fly higher and faster than almost any other gamebird, making them fantastic, testing quarry for sportsmen. * If we allow raptor predation to increase, we risk losing this iconic bird species in Britain altogether. * During the frozen winter of 2009/10 almost half the population of black grouse being monitored by the Game and Wildlife Conservancy Trust in the more treeless North Pennines were killed off by heavy snows and frost. * The author explains why he believes it is still possible to stage a major black grouse renaissance in moorland shooting.

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About the Author:

Patrick Laurie was born and brought up in Dumfries and Galloway, where he developed a love for birds and country sports from an early age. Educated at Shrewsbury School and the University of Glasgow, he obtained a degree in Scottish Language and Literature before embarking on a career as a freelance journalist. Over the past four years, Patrick has written for a number of magazines and journals on the subject of Scottish history, wildlife and country sports. Since 2009, he has written a monthly column for the Shooting Gazette and now contributes regularly to the work of the Heather Trust.

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It is no exaggeration to say that a number of blackcock lekking is one of the finest natural spectacles in Europe. Waves of activity wash over the gathered birds. At times they will scuttle and hop to such an extent that the lek site becomes an overwhelming tangle of bodies. At others, they bumble slowly and thoughtfully back and forth like old men who know that they are angry but can't quite recall why. Interspersed between these alternating phases are motionless periods of sulking, pouting and glaring at one another. Blackcock will lek throughout the year, although the intensity of the performance varies. Even in the dark days of January, cock birds will devote a few minutes each morning to squabbling and displaying, although their wattles are not fully erect and their hearts clearly are not in it. A period of semi-intensive lekking takes place in the Autumn, and this is probably a result of shortening day lengths and a desire to drive home the pecking order to new recruits. It may also serve to let itinerant greyhens know where the leks will be held in the Spring, although no females will directly visit these Autumn displays. Outside the lek, black grouse are often largely silent. I have heard a variety of hen like clucks, giggles and chattering from both greyhens and blackcock, but when the time comes to put on a display, sound plays a major part in the performance. The low bubbling note is made by vibrating specially adapted air pouches in the throat, and the 'three part coo' (one long bubbling sound, quickly followed by two faster, which rise in pitch like a gear change) is fairly uniform across the entire country. Rasping sneezes take place between short periods of bubbling, rather like the bell at the end of a typewriter's line. The sneeze takes such an effort to produce that the whole body of the bird is wracked with a violent spasm, which varies in intensity from a small bobbing motion to a full blown beat of the wings. White underwings are frequently flashed in time with a sneeze, and the two must serve as an audio-visual advertisement of arrogance and mischief.

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Book Description Merlin Unwin Books, United Kingdom, 2012. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. The black grouse range in Britain has shrunk by 95 in the past 100 years, with 25 of that decline since 1990. Patrick Laurie s lively natural history is interwoven with his account of his on-going battle to reintroduce them on his farm in South-West Scotland. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9781906122430

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