Last week we had a visit to Corehead by the Heather Trust in the form of Patrick Laurie. Patrick is not just knowledgeable in upland management, but is a particular guru on black grouse. Our local steering group were keen to get the Heather Trust involved at Corehead in order to get their opinion on our management of the site to date and their thoughts on future management.
Unfortunately the weather was somewhat against us. By the time we had walked up the hill and across Cocklaw Knowe we were well and truly in the mist. We managed to make our way across our woodland plantation in Whitehope, around into Lochan Burn (which is just below Hartfell, one of the highest hills in the area). This is where we have our largest flowering 'stand' of heather. Since we removed sheep grazing from this part of the site, it would appear that the heather has really started to blossom. Unfortunately on this day it looked like this.
We then took a walk back across Cocklaw Knowe. We know that this has been a Black Grouse lek site in the past and there have been a number of males spotted up there this year. So needless to say Patrick was keen to find some evidence. And luckily he was not to be disappointed! We didn't see any birds but we did find this feather of a juvenile black grouse.
We then found what (to the untrained eye) looks like a small pile of poo, but Patricks expertise immediately identified it as that of a black grouse, suggesting that a female has probably used this area.
As we walked down into Tweedhope we also found the feather of what Patrick was able to identify as coming from a short eared owl. It's great to find evidence of these birds on site as it suggests active habitat restoration is underway following the removal of grazing.
Overall a really interesting day and some useful thoughts were shared with us by Patrick.