A not so glorious 12th looms in the North
Estate owners in the north Pennines face losses of up to pounds 750,000 for the shooting alone, and hoteliers may lose through cancellations. Estate owners get pounds 70- pounds 80 for each brace of birds shot - a common way to sell shooting today.
The birds suffered badly in mid-May when 12 inches of snow in the north Pennines was followed by frost and four inches of rain, all within 72 hours. The Pennines north of the A66, particularly Northumberland and Durham, were worst affected, but the bad weather extended into the Scottish lowlands and parts of the Highlands. The southern Pennines were spared the snow but suffered from the rain which in itself has reduced broods.
Lindsay Waddell, head gamekeeper at Lord Barnard's estate at Raby, Co Durham, said: 'We probably had the worst weather for mid-May in living memory. The bulk of the grouse had laid their eggs and were sitting on them when the snow fell. And the following few days should have been the peak time for hatching.
'Many of the birds deserted their nests, forced to leave by the sheer weight of the snow. All the moorland birds have done poorly this year - merlins, curlew, dunlin, golden plover and ducks.'
The worst-hit areas are Northumberland, where snow lasted for three days, and in the Scottish hills around Tomatin, near Inverness. Surveys by the Game Conservancy in parts of the Highlands, the Borders and the Dales have found better than expected numbers of grouse but it has yet to survey the worst-hit areas.
In the central Pennines, from Skipton up to about Hexham, grouse flocks are suffering from a disease, strongylosis, caused by a worm. At the end of last season, after several very good years, the moors were over-populated with grouse, and the nematode worm spread in epidemic fashion. A lot of birds weakened by the infection died last winter or were in too poor a condition to breed well.
Dr Peter Hudson, manager of Upland Research for the Game Conservancy in the Cairngorms, said: 'The parasites inhabit a part of the gut which gives the bird its flavour when it is hung. I find the infection improves the taste of the bird.'
Sir Anthony Milbank, chairman of the Moorland Association, a club for gentlemen with upland estates, thought this a great joke. 'I've never heard that said before. I think he must be pulling your leg.' He added: 'Some estates may be in financial difficulty at the end of this season. Grouse shooting provides the entire income for some estates. Without it they can't afford to manage the estate.'
However, Dr Hudson thinks some gamekeepers are being too pessimistic. 'An old gamekeeper came to see me after the May storms,' he said. 'He could remember bad May storms in the 1930s and 1960s and said that the grouse were scarcely affected.'
International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
International Women’s Day: 'When a man gives his opinion, he's a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she's a bitch' - feminist quotes from female icons to inspire you
Exclusive: New evidence links the murders of Stephen Lawrence and a private investigator
Dead woman's body found sitting in a car after six years after direct debits ran $54,000 bank account dry
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
Poor 'live like animals' says Boris's privately educated sister after going on 'poverty safari'
White people become less racist just by moving to more diverse areas, study finds
Exclusive: Impact of immigrants on British workers ‘negligible’
- 1 International Women's Day 2014: The shocking statistics that show why it is still so important
- 2 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 3 Singapore sting: Sky-high prices are pushing locals to the edge of affordability
- 4 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role because late wife Natasha Richardson said she wouldn't marry him if he took it
- 5 Dead woman's body found sitting in a car after six years after direct debits ran $54,000 bank account dry
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: A small but growing chain of boutique hot...
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£45 - 60k Per Annum: Charter Selection: Highly profitable leisure brand, marke...
£30000 - £50000 per annum + Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: Residenti...