Rare black grouse makes a comeback

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The rare black grouse, once one of Britain's fastest declining species, is making a comeback under a scheme in which farmers and landowners are paid to protect the bird's moorland habitat.

The rare black grouse, once one of Britain's fastest declining species, is making a comeback under a scheme in which farmers and landowners are paid to protect the bird's moorland habitat.

After a decade when the number of black grouse ( Tetrao tetrix) males slumped drastically, populations in 10 north Pennine strongholds have shown a 7 per cent increase over the past four years.

There had been fears that the spectacle of the black grouse mating, when groups of males charge at each other with wings and lyre-shaped tails spread to impress smaller, grey-brown females, would vanish from English uplands.

But David Baines, of the Game Conservancy Trust's grouse research unit, based in Teesdale, said populations in the 10 areas covered by the Government's Countryside Stewardship Scheme had recovered.

"This year there were probably 145 displaying males," he said. But he warned that there were still problems with broods of young being lost due to wet weather and adults being hit by disease.

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