AHNE Bryniau Clwyd / Clwydian Range AONB

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Black grouse

Thanks to the Black Grouse Recovery Project numbers of this rare upland bird have risen on Moel Famau from just a single male in the mid-1990s to 25 males in spring 2011.

Black Grouse

The way we manage the moorland suits the birds, who like heather of different ages close to woodland. Narrow strips cut into deep heather provide fresh growth for birds to eat as well as deep vegetation for shelter.


At Coed Moel Famau the Forestry Commission, in partnership with the AONB, manage the forest to provide a gentle, dappled edge where moorland and forest blend together rather than the harsh forest edge commonly found with coniferous plantations.

This provides good shelter for the birds and allows heather to regenerate between trees, so food and nesting are always close by. Some parts of the coniferous woodland have been clear felled, allowing new heather to grow, and replanted by local school children with native trees such as rowan, silver birch and Scots pine. They call this area a “House for a Grouse”.

Black grouse and other moorland inhabitants require areas of wet ground in which to feed. But Moel Famau is a dry heath.

So we’ve created wet flushes by digging areas of moorland, lining them with bentonite clay and then putting the peaty soil back. Over time this fills with water to provide a boggy habitat ideal for cotton grass – a favourite food for black grouse.

Every April and May, countryside officers, our partner agencies and volunteers undertake black grouse counts. This involves hunting for and counting displaying (lekking) males at the break of dawn. If you’d like to witness this incredible natural spectacle, look out for advertised visits to the Llandegla bird hide.

Want to find out more?

Rhun Jones, Senior Countryside Warden for South Denbighshire speaks about the black grouse recovery project.

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