TODAY, THE GLORIOUS TWELFTH, sees the beginning of the game calendar with the start of the grouse shooting season.
Good news for chefs and game-lovers up and down the country. Yet the glory of the 12th of August is always tempered by science. The damp spring of 2012 caused a lack of breeding birds last year, whereas this year research has revealed that if the good weather persists throughout August, it could lead to fewer game-birds next year. A 20-year study by scientists of the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and Plymouth University concluded that the craneflies and daddy-longlegs don't like heat. Hot weather in August causes fewer to survive and produce eggs that will hatch the following spring, just when the young flies are needed as a vital food supply for infant red grouse.
Weather forecats so far predict the hottest August in nine years with the heatwave due to return in August.
Global warming may hit grouse numbers long term and the study with the study revealing that birds are laying 10 days earlier than they were 20 years ago.