The 2012 Documentary Series category winner.
Mark Hamblin: a fresh approach to a rural tradition
On many of Britain’s upland estates there remains a precarious relationship between sport shooting and predators and right at the forefront of this are two species – red grouse and hen harrier. The former is a highly prized game bird much coveted by shooting interests and the other a formidable predator of young grouse. This is an uneasy relationship that has been difficult to reconcile. One strategy put forward is to provide nesting harriers with an alternative food supply to lessen their impact on grouse stocks. My aim was to document this fresh approach to grouse management on Glen Tanar Estate in the Scottish Highlands.
Mark Hamblin: a fresh approach to a rural tradition (1)
Muirburn (heather burning) on an upland sporting estate to burn off old growth and promote fresh heather shoots on which red grouse feed. Burning takes place on a 12 year cycle to generate a mosaic of heather patches of different ages as part of red grouse management.
Mark Hamblin: a fresh approach to a rural tradition (2)
Red grouse (Lagopus lagopus scoticus) is an important game bird whose numbers are maximised on sporting estates through careful management to provide high yields for paying clients during the shooting season which begins on August 12th.
Mark Hamblin: a fresh approach to a rural tradition (3)
A female hen harrier returns to its nest with a young grouse chick. Harriers and other moorland raptors can heavily reduce grouse stocks during the breeding season, which inevitably brings them into direct conflict with game shooting interests.
Mark Hamblin: a fresh approach to a rural tradition (4)
Clients pay handsomely to shoot red grouse but if there are low numbers of game birds then there are fewer grouse shooting days, which it is argued has significant implications for rural economies and local employment.
Mark Hamblin: a fresh approach to a rural tradition (5)
An alternative approach to try to reduce the impact of grouse predation by harriers is to provide them with another food source. On Glen Tanar Estate during the 2011 season the single pair of breeding harriers were provided with chunks of venison that the female took to feed her chicks, which resulted in a reduction in the number of grouse taken.
Mark Hamblin: a fresh approach to a rural tradition (6)
In 2011 Glen Tanar Estate recorded their highest bag (yield) of red grouse for many years, which also coincided with the successful fledging of four hen harrier chicks, one of which was fitted with a radio transmitter to track its movements.