I know, it's been a while since I've blogged...and what have I brought you after all this time? Pictures of poo.
Apologies for that. As you probably guessed I've been extremely busy. I haven't picked up the camera in weeks! As sad as that is, these last two months have been pretty amazing. I'm loving my new Job and thought I would share with you the areas which I enjoy the most. The BBNP take conservation quite seriously, with a great ecology team ever pushing the standards. Red Grouse are one species that are of particular concern as they are a good indicator species for the health and well-being of our heathland. The BBNP participate in annual Grouse Counts to monitor the species but they also do everything they can do improve the Grouse' chances of breeding. Below you'll see pictures of Grouse Poo.. quite easy to identify once you've got your eye in.
We also like to supplement the grouse with piles of grit to help them digest their food. Grit can be found naturally on the mountain but by purposefully placing the grit in areas that are more secluded, the Grouse don't have to venture out into the open areas to find it which gives them a better survival rating.
Heather restoration is also very important and a massive Job to maintain thanks to climate change. The mountains are getting warmer and Heather being an upland species, actually prefers the colder altitudes (which is why you usually only see these species of plant on the top). Heather is also victim to encroaching species like Bracken that is actually moving up the mountain due to warmer temperatures. There are other factors of course like heather beetle that actually damages the heather.
So how do we tackle these issues? Well the BBNP take two approaches;
- Bracken Bashing is a simplistic, but effective way of killing the bracken, giving the heather a better chance of growing and reclaiming the outer edges.
- Heather Seed Harvesting is another way of ensuring the future of the heather and can be either stored ready for future restoration, or it can be dried and sown the next year in the areas that need it the most.
Below is a picture of the first bag of seed we gathered this week. This bag will be filtered through a finer mesh back at the depot to filter out the leaves/twigs from the seeds. Eventually we'll end up with just the pale round seeds ready for sowing in the future.
I've really enjoyed this activity. Red Grouse are really incredible upland species and a Joy to have on the hill. If you haven't seen one, get up at the crack of dawn to your local heathland and you may just get lucky. They are most active in the morning I have found and can be heard and seen, moving into the open areas of young heather to feed.
Below is a beautiful picture of a Red Grouse, taken locally by superb photographer and friend Mike Warburton. Click the picture for a link directly to his Flickr page.