SACWG: Long Mynd Red Grouse Project

Red Grouse, an iconic species of the highest areas of the Mynd (Photo:John Harding)

The Red Grouse survey began in 2011 and runs for six weeks each spring. It was adopted by the SACWG in 2012, as many members already participated in the project. The aim is to record males defending their territories on the Long Mynd tops. In 2012, despite the snow, rain and fog, most people got to see at least one Red Grouse and there was one spectacular evening with lots of Red grouse activity. The 2013 survey was less successful due to windy, wet weather but conditions were much better in 2014. Population estimates were 63-66 territorial males in 2012, 53-54 in 2013 and 56-58 in 2014. It appears that numbers were hit by the bad weather in early spring in 2013, but recovered a bit in 2014.  Results for 2015 will be available shortly (see “Reports” section below).

You maybe interested in this poem by Margaret Mitchell, based on her experience of participating in this count project.

The Watchers
by Margaret Mitchell

 Along the winding Burway, clinging bravely to the hill,
Past the dark, majestic heights, shadowy and chill
That delve down to the valley, mysterious and deep,
The slopes a home for rabbits and gentle roaming sheep.

The roadway twists and turns through a sea of purple haze
Of heather standing tall beneath the sun’s fading rays.
The silence spreads her cloak, across the heath it lies,
And a flock of golden plover flush high to fill the skies.

Silhouetted on the skyline, on the brow of every hill,
The sentinels stand watching, patient, calm and still,
For a spectacle of red grouse, with their low swooping flight
And their loud call of warning as they plummet out of sight.

This simple act of nature is repeated every night,
Yet I watch in awe and wonder with a shiver of delight.
For beneath the mounds of heather, safely sheltered from the wind,
Lies a secret, hidden treasure, held in trust on the Long Mynd.

If you would like to read more about the objectives, methods and results of the Red Grouse count, reports for 2012, 2013 and 2014, entitled Red Grouse on The Long Mynd: Survey and Population Estimate, are available as downloadable documents in pdf format here.

Page updated: 15/02/2017 by AJA