The warm summer has made 2013 a record-breaking season for blackgrouse chick-breeding in England, according to the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT).

GWCT scientists have been monitoring the rare species for 25 years, and were understandably jubilant with the results of their annual breeding counts. This year’s broods numbered an average of 4.4 chicks per hen, which is nearly four times higher than the usual 1.2 chicks per hen.

Dr Phil Warren, a blackgrouse specialist with the GWCT, said: “This has been a fantastic year, with most hens managing to raise chicks — some with exceptionally large broods. This year we have seen a hen with 10 chicks and one with 11, which for blackgrouse is exceptional. This is all in stark contrast to last year, when breeding productivity was appalling — one sample of 35 hens raised just seven chicks between them.”

The rest of this article appears in the 4th September issue of Shooting Times.

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