As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Friday 9 August 2013

Grouse laying earlier due to warmer springs, says GWCT

Red grouse are laying eggs earlier in the season in response to warmer springs, according to the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT).

A 20-year research project by the organisation has been published in ornithological journal Ibis.

The study involved the monitoring of radio-tagged red grouse hens in Strathspey in the Cairngorms.

GWCT said the research suggested dates when eggs were laid have advanced by 0.5 days per year.

Rising April temperatures have been a major influence on egg laying, the trust said.

Warmer springs provide more plant food for the hens to get into good condition for breeding.

However GWCT added that higher temperatures in May and August may not favour important food sources for the chicks.

Dr Kathy Fletcher, head of GWCT's Scottish upland research, said: "A warm May was likely to drive an earlier emergence of craneflies, or daddy-longlegs, a key chick food.

"An early fly hatch means the grouse chicks hatch too late to take advantage of the abundant food source.

"Warmer Augusts result in fewer craneflies surviving to produce eggs for the following year."

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