Many of the treeless upland areas of the UK are blanketed in heather, that turns the hills a subtle but beautiful shade of purple in the late summer as the plants burst into flower. However, despite the apparent wild visual appearance, the landscape is actually the result of human intervention. The land and heather is carefully managed, with large swathes being periodically cut or burnt. The purpose of all this activity is to generate fresh plant growth to provide an abundant food source for the Red Grouse in order to maximise the populations of these birds. This is a bird amongst an area of heather that has been previously been burnt back.
Red Grouse Video ). As you can see in this video occasionally you encounter a 'rogue' male which show no fear of humans and, fuelled by an excess of testosterone, can be quite aggressive towards people.
From a photography perspective Red Grouse can be great fun and it is always a pleasure to be in the lovely landscape of these more remote upland areas in the company of a very endearing bird. At least it is when there is no horizontal rain! When you get up close to a Grouse your realise they are subtly very attractive birds with their finely patterned red-brown feathers, red eye 'combs' and 'furry' white legs and feet.
My closest Red Grouse populations are a two hour drive northwards and I tried to photograph them for the first time in October last year. It was a very successful visit but the purple of the heather by that time had faded to a pink-orange hue.