Black grouse are vulnerable to disturbance and so it is critical that bird watchers take steps to avoid harming these fantastic birds.
- Avoid looking for black grouse after heavy snowfalls, when birds are under stress.
- View leks from a vehicle. Black grouse pay little attention to stationery vehicles that are at least 100 metres away. Ensure that you do not block access and that your presence will not disturb nearby residents. Avoid approaching a lek on foot, which usually disturbs the birds.
- Arrive before daybreak. A vehicle stopping once it is light can disturb the birds. Stay in your vehicle and watch quietly through binoculars and telescopes. Don’t start the engine until lekking has wound down, usually about two hours after dawn. Alternatively consider watching a lek in the evening.
- Keep to footpaths, especially in June and July, when there may be nesting females and young birds present. Do not go looking for black grouse in heather or thick vegetation, especially in woodland (birds may fly into fences, with lethal consequences, if flushed).
- Do not bring dogs when you’re watching grouse.