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GROUSE counts are underway across the Highlands and despite estates being at the ‘mercy of Scottish weather’, gamekeepers remain hopeful their hard work has paid off, writes senior reporter Monica Gibson.
The counts are taking place in preparation for shooting season which is set to start around August 12.
The long winter and wet summer months have resulted in less favourable breeding conditions on many estates but those in charge say they are quietly optimistic for a good season ahead, thanks to the perseverance and careful habitat management.
One such gamekeeper who has recently conducted a grouse count is Rab MacVarrie, head gamekeeper at Corriegarth Estate.
Rab commented: ‘The start of the grouse shooting season is the pinnacle in the calendar for sporting enthusiasts and for the many workers involved in the sector it marks the culmination of our year-round management and efforts required to ensure a successful season.
‘Our grouse count has demonstrated that moorland estates are at the mercy of the unpredictable Scottish weather. Whilst numbers look good we have seen a lot of younger birds which are perhaps the second brood of chicks as a consequence of the first brood being affected by the late April snow and colder spring months. This is not an unusual occurrence and we expect a slower start in our region but remain hopeful for a successful season as a whole.’