I am an inveterate late riser.

It has been remarked upon by parents, friends and employers throughout my life, but over the last week, everything has changed.

My grumbling form has been repeatedly roused out of bed while the stars sparkle overhead and the sunrise is still hours away.

Black grouse are taking over my life.

I was up by 4.30am last Saturday and took off up to Ayrshire to see my first lekking display on an area of Forestry Commission land 50 miles away.

It was a show I’ll never forget, and is one of the few things I have ever seen that really was worth getting up early for.

The cock birds purred through the heather, sneezing and wheezing to one another with hilarious fury, and although they didn’t actually fight, they ranged within 20 feet of the car and posed for my camera like feathered body builders.

Now that the magical lekking season is in full swing, there is no excuse for having a lie in and I can’t resist scouting around my own farm at dawn in the hope of seeing some similar displays of finery and posturing.

It is always frustrating how the countryside is at its best first thing in the morning, precisely when I am least inclined to get out there and be part of it.

I may not have found where my black grouse are lekking yet, but witnessing thrilling displays by snipe drumming in the half light and hearing my first cuckoo of the year this morning make my churning stomach, itchy eyes and feeble limbs buck up with surprising gusto.

My obsession with black grouse has led me to discover all sorts of wildlife behaviour as part of my new early morning routine, but one phenomenon in particular amazed me more than usual this week: For the first time in my life, I met my postman.