Good weather helps black grouse numbers to increase

Black grouse cocks compete in territorial displays in spring-time known as leks

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Black grouse numbers in Scotland have increased, according to information gathered by conservation charities and agencies.

Good weather during the breeding season in 2010 and woodland expansion projects were believed to be reasons for the rise.

A survey in Dumfries and Galloway recorded 390 lekking males in 2011 - up by 160 on the figure for 2010.

Studies were also made of grouse in Deeside, Perthshire and Speyside.

Lekking is the territorial display of male grouse during the mating season.

The behaviour provides conservation bodies with an opportunity to gauge the health of Scotland's black grouse population.

Statistics were gathered by RSPB Scotland, Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage and Forestry Commission Scotland.

Adam Smith, of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, said the efforts of land managers had played a part in the increase.

He said: "This remarkable species needs a diverse array of habitat and low levels of predation and disturbance to thrive.

"Well focussed advice and the support of farmers, gamekeepers and foresters has surely helped the black grouse exploit a couple of years of good weather to the full in some of the more northern parts of Scotland, with many parts of the Cairngorms showing strong populations."

Historically, numbers of black grouse had been in decline.

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