Into life that is….

The last few weeks have bought with them an explosion of life on the grouse moor.

Inevitably, the species which seems to have profited most from the recent warm weather has been the rabbit.

Until recently, two or three sullen adults were in evidence around the farm buildings. Now the short grass wriggles with little bunnies.

My initial reaction was to set about them with the rifle, but thinking about it in more detail, perhaps this isn’t the best idea.

An enormous number of rabbits feeds an enormous population of vermin and my first instincts followed the basic theory that removing the rabbits would remove the vermin.

However, looking into it, things are probably not that simple.

Grouse moors in the south west of Scotland are characterised by having their roots in traditional hill farming practices.

Stands of heather are scattered amongst pasture, and rabbits have a greater access to grouse habitat than they ever would on a well managed highland moor.

As a result, predators seeking rabbits are far more likely to encounter grouse than they would in the north.

It makes much better sense to leave rabbits on the farm to act as a buffer between the grouse and the vermin, at least until I can start to make real inroads on foxes and stoats.

I have fingers crossed that the greyhen is currently sitting in the bog behind the farm house, although the fact that I haven’t seen her for a month doesn’t mean that she has laid at all.

She is so much harder to spot than the garish blackcock that it was only by accident that I discovered her in the first place.

Hopefully the foxes and stoats will be so busy on the bunnies that she will have some breathing space to rear her brood.

The views expressed on Patrick Laurie’s blog are the author’s and not the views of Shooting Gazette, ShootingUK, IPC Media or its employees.