Did you ever see the lek?

Photograph: Andy Hay

Photograph: Andy Hay

RSPB plans black grouse safaris

Few wildlife spectacles are as dramatic as the breeding display in which male black grouse strut around and flutter into the air, spreading their fan-tails.

RSPB Scotland is launching a series of black grouse safaris offering a chance to witness the lek at close quarters. The safaris are taking place at the charity’s Corrimony reserve, south-west of Inverness, during April and early May.

Brad Chappell, who is leading the safaris, said, “Every year in spring male black grouse come together on a special site, known as a lek, where they display in order to attract the attention of females. They often face up to each other and things can quite exciting. This is all combined with the most extraordinary soundtrack as the grouse produce a strange, very evocative, bubbling call.”

The safaris are being run in conjunction with the Famous Grouse and each adult joining in will be given a complimentary miniature bottle of Black Grouse whisky. Afterwards, each party will visit the Bog Cotton Cafe in Cannich for a full Scottish breakfast.

Black grouse numbers have declined dramatically as a result of habitat degradation and collisions with deer fences, but Corrimony remains one of the best places in the UK to see them. Famous Grouse has been helping to fund conservation work such as planting native trees, felling exotic trees, cutting and burning of heather moor and carrying out bird counts.

“The safaris can be very popular so I would urge people to book their place as soon as possible! We are planning to run the safaris on 6, 11, 24 and 27 April and 8 May. You can ring our Inverness office on: 01463 715000 or drop us an email to [email protected].”

He added that the RSPB was also planning to show visitors black grouse at other sites including at locations near CairnGorm Mountain. He said: “All our black grouse activities at Corrimony and at CairnGorm will be posted on our website. For the latest information please check out www.rspb.org.uk/highlandblackgrouse.”



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