RMK grouse surveillance finds them in places we have never seen them before 17.06

During the RMK grouse surveillance, the birds or their traces such as feathers and faeces were found in places they have previously not been found before.

In this year’s grouse surveillance, RMK has focused on so-called stepping stones – areas that are located between known playing grounds of grouse and those that could be suitable areas of habitat.

“These are areas where grouse surveillance is usually not carried out, which makes any discovery of grouse or their traces there a pleasant surprise,” says RMK nature conservation department biodiversity surveillance specialist Margus Pensa.

A surprisingly large amount of birds was found by RMK employees in former quarries of Viivikonna, now reforested by RMK with pine trees. Many traces were found there, as well as four male and three female grouse themselves.

“As a pleasant surprise, we also found grouse on the ash plateau of the Eesti Power Plant in Kõrgesoo, where we found just as many traces, and managed to see at least two male grouses,” said Pensa. “Throughout the period of compiling two bird atlases – that’s almost 40 years – Kõrgesoo has been a blank spot on the map where grouse have not been spotted before.”

In total, RMK conducted grouse surveillance in 38 areas, in 17 of which the bird itself or its traces have been spotted.

Grouse faeces. Photo: Margus Pensa

“It is, indeed, a good result when grouse is found in places that have no recent history of grouse habitat or no history at all,” said Pensa. “It is possible that some of the surveyed areas will be classified as a playing ground and will be entered into the Environment Registry.”

Priipalu in Valgamaa can be considered one of the new playing grounds where grouse have been surprisingly spotted during marsh restoration. “Priipalu was not even in our initial surveillance list but when the RMK nature conservation specialist Priit Voolaid went to check the restoration process, he accidentally found grouse,” says Pensa.

RMK employees have been conducting grouse surveillance since 2016, in order to better understand the number and area of habitat of these endangered birds. The results are forwarded to the Environment Agency. The State Forest Management Centre is the biggest nature conservation operator in Estonia.

Further information:
Margus Pensa
Species Conservation Specialist at the State Forest Management Centre’s Nature Protection Department
5627 7115