Red grouse

Latin name: Lagopus lagopus Red grouse

Length: 37- 42cm Wingspan: 55 - 66cm

Where: Any upland moorland area

When: All year round – early mornings are a good time to see them

Red grouse are technically the same species as the paler willow grouse that you can find all over northern Europe. But it does seem to make them seem more special when you know that you can only see these ruddy brown characters with their scarlet eyebrows here in the UK.

Go for a walk anywhere on the heathery hillsides of the National Park and there’s a chance that you will be told in no uncertain terms to ‘go-bak go-bak’, as the grouse rise up from their hiding places to complain about your intrusion. You can find these hardy birds breeding at up to 2000ft. The tough little chicks are able to fly from their nest in the heather at 12 days old to escape predators. In fact the heather is the grouse’s element – they eat it, nest in it, hide in it. In winter they use their strong, feathered legs to dig down beneath the snow to get at the heather shoots, inspiring their Latin name, ‘lagopus’ which means ‘hare-footed’.

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Any natural place contains an infinite reservoir of information, and therefore the potential for inexhaustible new discoveries.

Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods