Principal Biodiversity Species in Wales
The Population Status of Birds in Wales:
Population trend and distribution
Black grouse have undergone considerable range contraction and population decline in Wales, reflecting wider UK trends. Formerly found across much of Wales, the species’ geographical range was probably most extensive between the end of the 19th century and the 1950s (Hope Jones 1989). However, Black grouse are now a relatively scarce and localised breeding bird, confined almost entirely to Denbighshire, Wrexham and Meirionnydd. In 2005, there was a population of 213 lekking males (Lindley et al. in prep.).
General: Black grouse are largely sedentary, occupying habitats at the interface of farmland, open moorland and woodland (principally conifer plantations in Wales). Black grouse favour young, pre-thicket stands (12–20 years old) characterised by low canopy cover (Cayford et al. 1989) and a well-developed layer of heather and bilberry. Males (blackcock) compete for females (greyhens) on traditional display areas (leks). These are typically on flat, open ground with short vegetation in farm pasture, open glades, bogs or forest tracks.
Nesting: in a shallow scrape on the ground in the shelter of tall vegetation (c50 cm in height), eg heather.
9 Historical population decline during 1800–1994, rapid (>50%) contraction of Welsh breeding range over previous 25 years and unfavourable conservation status in Europe, although range not concentrated in Europe. 10 Preliminary assessment for 2008 revision of The Population Status of Birds in Wales: Red-listed.
Figure 20 Key areas for black grouse in Wales.