Saturday, 22 February 2014

Iridescent Grouse at World's End

Black Grouse 32 (30 males, 2 females)

Year 152 (Black Grouse)

What morning on the moors above World's End! We arrived at the first Black Grouse leck site at 7:15am, and immediately saw three males flying at fairly close range. Then we got onto the leck itself which was a good kilometre away from the road, making a scope essential, and here we counted at least another 11 males lecking.

Next we drove down towards the World's End car park, and on the way spotted another handful of males, including one quite close to the car, before reaching the woodland just before the car park where we found a second leck on the hillside in the distance, which contained another nine males. I believe that this leck has contained up to 40 males in the past week! Finally we rounded off the day with the unusual sight of two "greyhens" not far from the second leck. Greyhens are much more difficult to spot than the showy males.

Just in case you don't know, World's End is between Wrexham and Llangollen.

Male Black Grouse. It might look like I'm peering over a clump of heather having creeped up on this bird, but all photos are taken from the car.

Prior to today I didn't realise how iridescent the males are. In fact in this light they're anything but black!

At about 8am all 11 males flew from the first leck site.

This is a view over the leck site. In fact there are 11 males lecking in this photo! They're the little white dots in the middle of the photo. This is the kind of view you get of the leck through binoculars!

Again this is looking towards the leck site. You can see a hide in the distance, which the RSPB use when they take parties out to view the leck from Llandegla Forest. I assume that they still do organised viewings of the leck. I went on one back in 2009, and although the hide might look closer, in reality it was still pretty distant.

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