Simon Armitage on grouse


Poet Simon Armitage watched grouse as he passed through the blanket bog of Cotherstone Moor, and wrote in ‘Walking Home’, his travelogue along the Pennine Way:

The next stretch is over another barren elevation, populated by small cairns at regular intervals, like relics of a primitive religion or ritualistic practice, their form and function not yet fully understood. There are dozens of them, and dozens of red grouse too, whose numbers on this moor seem absurd, even to the point where they explode out from under our feet every ten yards or so or waddle off in family groups of seven or eight led by the mother, so many in fact that it would probably be harder to miss a grouse with a shotgun, even when firing blind drunk, than to hit one. I’ve heard it said that to create a diversion and allow her young to escape the female grouse will sometimes feign injury by dragging a wing and floundering along the ground, but I’ve never seen it, even though on these overstocked acres some of these birds are almost within grabbing distance

Image: “Moorland, Cotherstone – – 621337” by Andrew Smith. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons