Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus) in the Peaks

The Red grouse is a wild ground nesting bird. It predominately lives in heather moorlands from the Peak District all the way north to Scotland. Every year, thousands of young red grouse are born on the Peak District moorlands, the most southerly part of their range. The Red Grouse is sedentary to the moors all year round and often lives in the same area for their lifetimes. It has a distinctive call and flight pattern and are an integral part of the moorlands.



What a view

It was an early start and I wanted to be at my site for the Red Grouse as the sun was rising. What a sunrise it was. Clear blue skies, long shadows, with puffs of mist and fog hanging over the top of the hills below just like velvet. To be so high up watching the sun rise by yourself in perfect silence except for the occasional Red Grouse calling is an experience I will remember for a long time, It was dawn and what a dawn it was, the start of a new frosty day.

The sentry watching me watching him

There were plenty of Grouse about and this beautiful male spotted me and froze. I expected him to fly off but he looked straight down the lens and eventually he lowered is profile as he got down in the grass.

The cock grouse tends to be the sentry within their patch and generally have a slightly higher vantage point to look around looking for you, and often it is up and flying away before you have had the opportunity to take any pictures. The cock being easily identifiable because of the bright red wattles above each eye.


It was a lovely sunny day, I wouldn’t of had it any other way but it does make photography more difficult because the light is so contrasty. As the sun rises the more contrast you get. You can see from the picture above the light conditions that I had to contend with.

Red Grouse

Red Grouse


The Red Grouse is so camouflaged in its environment that it is sometimes very difficult to see. The picture above does have a Grouse in it and below and slightly to the left but between the two posts you can see him.


Sometimes the first time you see the Red Grouse is when you are almost on top of him and he lifts out of the heather and makes his dramatic flying escape.

Typical environment

Red Grouse

Well Hidden

Typical feeding area. Shoots of the heather.

Red Grouse

Their major diet is heather as well as using it for shelter and nesting and rearing their young. It is important therefore that heather moorland is managed correctly to promote new growth of heather to sustain a healthy population.

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