Since the beginning of December 2021 staff from NPWS have been busy surveying the distribution of Red Grouse in Ireland. The project aims to detect any changes in distribution since the last survey was carried out between 2006 and 2008. This survey will run until the 31st of March 2022.
The Red Grouse is one of Ireland’s threatened species, having suffered a 50% decline in distribution between the early 1970s and 2008. Habitat loss has led to this decline. A number of issues affecting our boglands such as afforestation, turf extraction, wild fires and overgrazing have resulted in loss of grouse habitat. Its Irish name Cearc Fhraoigh translates as ‘Hen of the Heather’ and the Red Grouse is unique in its dependency on heather. They require a good mosaic of heather, feeding on the young shoots, which forms up to 90% of their diet; while the taller older heather is ideal for nesting and protection from predators.
Key populations are known to occur in the Wicklow and Dublin Mountains, the Slieve Bloom Mountains in County Laois, the Knockmealdown Mountains in County Tipperary and Waterford, the Nephin Mountains in County Mayo and the Blue Stack Mountains in County Donegal.
You too can get involved in the survey by submitting sightings or come across pellets or wet droppings that confirm their presence. More information about the survey can be found here: https://biodiversityireland.ie/surveys/red-grouse-survey-2021-2022/
Featured image: Fresh wet (caecal) droppings and pellets (fresh with white caps and old dried ones)
Hear from Conservation Ranger Irene O’Brien as she explains what’s involved with doing a survey.
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