Great News – Red Grouse numbers increase in the Owenduff/Nephin Complex SAC/Commonage

A decrease in the population of red grouse (Lagopus lagopus scoticus) of 66 % for Ireland was recorded between the 1968/72 and 1988/91 Bird Atlases. The most recent data shows a continuing decline nationally. The latest studies estimate the number of red grouse in the Republic of Ireland at 4,200 birds with a further 202 pairs in Northern Ireland.  This report provides the results of a red grouse survey in the Owenduff/Nephin Complex Special Protection Area (SPA) in County Mayo. 12 x 1km squares were surveyed in 2012, a repeat of a survey that had been carried out 10 years previously.  The results indicate a population of 790 832 individual birds within the SPA, representing 3.08 3.25 birds per km² in the Owenduff/Nephin Complex SPA. This is effectively a doubling in numbers since 2002 when the population of red grouse was estimated at 362 – 426 individuals within the 25,622ha of the Owenduff/Nephin Complex, representing a population density of 1.4 1.7 birds per km².  The population expansion is also evident from the significant increase in the number of occupied squares, from 50% in 2002 (six out of 12), to 100% in the current period.  This increase in grouse numbers is attributed to management prescriptions in the intervening period.  Off-wintering of livestock from 2006 has allowed an improvement in the habitat condition within the Owenduff/Nephin SPA to the extent that in 2010, of the 76 habitat stations surveyed, 68 showed positive recovery compared to the 2005 assessment.  For full report see  IWM 77 Red grouse