A Black Grouse at lek: one of the rarest sites in scotland?

A strange figure appeared on the dyke up ahead

A strange figure appeared on the dyke up ahead

This evening we went for a walk over some beautiful countryside a few miles from the cottage. Expecting to take some snaps of the orange sun setting over the Galloway hills I took my camera along. The sunset was predictably remarkable but I was given another treat as well…

The Lek

The Lek

Ahead an unusual bird shape caught my eye, an elusive black grouse! Watching him for a moment strut up and down fanning his white tail feathers he was an incredable site to behold. He was only there for a moment before he flew down into some rushes. Creeping quietly forward with my camera poised and my eye fixed on the ground where he landed I crept closer. Nearing where I though he had landed I heard a sound to my right, an aggressive bubbly giggle: suddenly a male pheasant burst out of the undergrowth with the black grouse hot on his heals. Over the dyke they flew and onto the other side. I ran forward and positioning myself peered over the dyke to see the scene unfolding on the other side.

The grouse had his tail at full fan and was now making a noise somewhere between a cat hissing and radio static in short bursts aggressively directed at the pheasant. The poor unsuspecting pheasant was trying to make a getaway through the rushes but the grouse continued to charge at him holding his wings out and looking an impressive adversary.

The pheasant took off again and this time flew a significant distance and was not followed by the magnificent grouse. The behaviour is called Lekking – the mating display of the black grouse. Usually such behaviour is directed at other grouse and is possibly just a case of wrong place wrong time for the poor pheasant…

Incredibly exciting for a walker looking for a pretty sunset…

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