For many, seeing and hearing red grouse on the moor is a bewildering experience. What is that strange cackling sound in the under-growth? These wild, low-flying nesting birds love to hide in the heather, so it’s rare to get so close, especially without scaring them away in mass panic.
The grouse in the video can be seen most days on the way up to Top Withens, the alleged setting of Wuthering Heights on Haworth Moor. Like me, at first you think it is pleased to see you and wants feeding like the pigeons in Trafalgar Square, but you soon realise that this is not the case.
They are of course, wild birds and naturally territorial. That being so, grouse usually flee as soon as they are aware of you, so it is very rare to see such behaviour. The video shows the grouse clucking and gesturing. It’s likely to be a bit ‘grumpy’ with us and warning us to keep away, which we did. I have personally witnessed it attack two women on separate occasions who got too close, probably thinking they had special Dr Doolittle powers and that it was merely welcoming them. No, it’s definitely a grumpy grouse with a Heathcliffe-like rage, so beware!
My first ever encounter of a grouse acting in a similar manner was a week or so earlier (yes, there are two), and the video can be seen on our Haworth Moor page. I nicknamed them Cathy and Heathcliffe (both were male red grouse, but that’s a minor technicality) and it’s fun to think that the spirit of these famous fictional characters are still toying with and reaping havoc on weary travellers to this day. ‘Cathy’ appeared more spritely though, skipping along with us on our guided walk and this entertained us for a short while before flying off in a screeching tantrum – oh, so Cathy! I set the video snippet to music. Enjoy!
In my 25 years or running and walking Haworth Moor, I have never known grouse to act in this way and it again confirms that 2020 is a very, very odd year. Enjoy your walks and with the grumpy grouse or not, please keep your dog on a lead.
If you would prefer a more peaceful, less aggressive experience of Haworth Moor from the comfort of your own home, check out the Mindfulness Meditation by an Australian visitor to the moor during the height of summer 2020.