Come spring the team are always eager to start fieldwork and luckily this year the weather has been mostly warm and dry allowing the season to get off to a good start. First on the list are the spring red grouse counts...
We have monitored red grouse abundance annually since 1980. Spring counts provide a pre-breeding density estimate, whilst July counts estimate adult survival since spring, breeding success and allow harvest predictions. Six of our staff count sample areas, each of approximately 100 ha, in northern England and Scotland. Between early-March and mid-April we counted grouse at 91 sites: 61 in northern England and 30 in Scotland.
The observer, together with a trained pointer or setter, walks six equally spaced parallel transect lines through the count area, whilst the dog “quarters” either side of the transect line hunting grouse by scent. The dog points when a grouse is located, allowing the observer to walk to the point, flush the birds and record the number and sex.
There are currently 15 working dogs employed by the GWCT who are used to help carry out essential work and are considered as important members of the team. Older dogs are kept into retirement and puppies or rehomed working dogs are introduced when required to take the reins.