|Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica)
(aka Willow Grouse, Willow Ptarmigan)
The Red Grouse is the subspecies of the Willow Grouse that is restricted to the British Isles. Other subspecies of Willow Grouse are to be found across northern Eurasia and North America.
Over most of its range the Willow Grouse inhabits Arctic tundra especially where there are willows, dwarf birches and berry-bearing shrubs.
|In the British Isles the Red Grouse is closely associated with heather which is the staple year round diet in this country.
A major visual difference is that the Willow Grouse turns all white, apart from its black tail, during the winter while the Red Grouse remains brown.
|The male has two scarlet combs which are particularly prominent during the springtime courtship. The female, seen in the 3rd and 8th photos, is duller and does not have combs.
It flies fast but generally in a straight line. Bursts of rapid wing-beats alternate with glides on down-curved wings as seen in the fourth photo.
|The Red Grouse is extensively hunted in Britain, as is the Willow Grouse elsewhere, especially in Russia. It is reported that about 2,500,000 birds were shot in Britain in 1911 and, although grouse shooting remains popular amongst a certain class, numbers shot have since declined to about 400,000 a year.|
|There are illustrations in HBW, Volume 2, Pages 398 and 400.|