As the summer ends, the natural food sources that have sustained our wild bird population will start to diminish and the wild birds will begin to return to the gardens. It is now is a good time to stock up on wild bird mixes, peanuts, mealworms, suet blocks and fat balls to feed them through the lean times of winter

While talking of gardens, it is now a good opportunity to do some tidying and pruning of decorative shrubs, which sets the garden up for a good break during the winter months. Now is also a good time to take cuttings of plants that you wish either to have more of next year or they are more easily kept through the winter as cuttings due to the space saving.

August has gone, but we have seen the start of the Game Season with the 12th beckoning the return to the shooting of Red Grouse. The reports coming back are that the birds are in good numbers on the moors. This is no accident, but a testimony to many days and nights of hard work and dedication by those that look after this wild environment.

It is worth remembering that the management of the moors is an extremely labour-intensive occupation and costs a large amount of money. It is the money that is generated from the selling of days Grouse shooting that allows for the management of the moors. This will often be the action of cutting or burning of the Heather.

There is a need, when encouraging the increase of Grouse numbers, to have a selection of heights of the Heather and this is achieved by the cutting or burning of the plant. The reason behind this is to have a tall plant structure that will show above lying snow for adult birds to pick at the tips during those short bleak days of winter, a height that offers good nesting habitat in the spring, and a short plant that bears new growth for the emerging chicks to feed on. Also, the careful use of medicated grits to combat worm infections has seen a significant growth in Grouse populations

The day fast approaching when you are due to head to the moor. The question often asked of our staff is “what shot and load should I be using on these Grouse?” It is generally regarded that a fast relatively light loaded cartridge is the one of choice. Lyalvale Express has recently launched a “Grouse “specific cartridge, aptly named “Supreme Grouse”. This cartridge is a 29gram 6.5 shot cartridge in a 65mm chamber, which means that is highly suitable for the clear majority of side by side shotguns, and over and unders.

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