Grouse shooting.

That is the view of the Moorland Association, whose members manage grouse moors covering over a fifth of the uplands in England and Wales.

Chairman Edward Bromet said: ?As always, the weather this year has played a huge role in the success of breeding for the wild red grouse and other important ground-nesting birds.?

?Despite another very harsh winter, the grouse have come through it in healthy condition, helped by strong populations left from the very good 2010 breeding season.?

According to Mr Bromet, the driest and warmest April on record could have impacted negatively on wild red grouse numbers, as an increased number of visitors and their dogs led to unintentional disturbance.

This can cause the hidden birds to desert their nests, leaving eggs to chill and die.

By late May, daytime temperatures plummeted to just five degrees, with night frosts, lashing rain and hail, and storm-force winds blowing insects out of reach.

Mr Bromet said: ?The chicks are tiny and only weigh a few grammes at this stage so searching for food in these conditions would have been very hazardous.?

However, the overall mood remains positive.

In the lead-up to the start of the shooting season on 12 August, grouse moor managers will now decide how many days of grouse shooting should be held to harvest a sustainable surplus for the plate.

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