Can black grouse help save Ganavan?

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Could Black Grouse spotted in woods above Ganavan help save the area from developers?

Two pairs of the the UK’s fastest declining bird, official name is Tetrao tetra, were caught on camera last week.

Black grouse are classified in the UK as a Red List species under the Birds of Conservation Concern review and as a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP).

Black Grouse. Photo Dennis Morrison

The birds were snapped by Laura Corbe and the footage posted on Friends of Ganavan’s website as ‘undeniable’ proof.

‘What does it take to get a proposal knocked on the head on environmental grounds?’ she said.

Sadly, even rare Black Grouse ‘might not come up trumps’, she added.

Marsh Fritillary butterflies which are threatened, not only in the UK but across Europe, have also been spotted at Ganavan, as have the narrow Bordered Bee Hawk Moth.

Keep Ganavan Green campaigner Daniel Brooks has been carrying out some environmental surveying of the whole proposed areas and gathering records from local naturalists.

Finds include otters, badgers, foxes, pine martens, red squirrels, shrews, stoats and weasel. There have also been falcons nesting, ravens, buzzard, grasshopper warblers, black grouse, snipe and other rare birds using the area for hunting each winter. Merlin, short eared owl, long eared owl, barn owl, hen harrier have also been sighted.

‘I’m not against houses being built if they are built in the right place. Ganvan’s green area is not the right place. It’s a mosaic of different habits and needs protecting,’ said Mr Brooks.

Friends of Ganavan are in agreement and describe the area as a ‘spectacular amphitheatre setting’, with a spokesperson adding: ‘Not only is the area one of outstanding natural beauty but it has an ecology that needs to be protected for the sustainable benefit of all.’

A sign-posted nature trail, a squirrel hide and sowing more wildflowers such as butterflies’ favourite, pretty Devils Bit Scabious, are just some ideas that could be developed on the green area if the land owners gave the nod, said Mrs Corbe.

She added: ‘There’s some amazing ecology in action across the hinterland there, with lots of evidence of regrowth of pioneer tree species such as birch and willow, but a wildlife corridor across the whole area, not just from the ancient woodland on the Ganavan side of the cycle path, but even from Dunollie, may be a great tree planting exercise for school kids who’d get to see the trees mature as they do. All very possible ideas.’