As you know Mrs. Lear is working towards her new job as a Parkie for Glasgow City Council - at least I think that's what she's doing.
However, she returned home the other day fulminating about how Quangos and other do-gooders get involved and mess up the countryside. I assume this is as opposed to the farmers ( who kill things that attack their sheep) the huntin' shootin' fishin' lot ( who kill things) and the non-locals ( who kill things in their 4 x 4s). By the way, have you ever noticed that this last group always insist having these vehicles makes absolute sense - for them?
Anyway, the gist of her fury was that the Black Grouse, which has been in decline for many years, is probably reaching a critical point. There have been umpteen committees, groups, studies and what not to try to reverse this. Every single one of these groups and studies requires the poor birds to be counted. At a guess, over the last 5 years, every Black Grouse will have been counted about 20 times. The amount of money spent on this would enable every bird to have its own mansion.
Now the number one thing that Black Grouse really really dislike is being disturbed when they are on a thing called a lek. In essence, this means the male bird trying to get his leg over. Male readers think of a knock at the door at a critical moment, a mobile going off, or your inamorata spotting a man through the window with a pair of binoculars.
It ain't going to happen after that is it?
Well, that's pretty much the male Black Grouse's view too.
I'm sure all the watchers and counters are well trained and careful, but a Black Grouse is a pretty wily bird - much more so than pheasants or even Red Grouse.
So the efforts of all these do-gooders are rather counter productive. There's a trail of frustrated birdies hopping about, and extremely worried that the next time they get the missus in the right frame of mind,another twenty pairs of binoculars will be trained on him.
However, there is hope.
There is one area where no counting, ogling or spying goes on - and, surprise surprise, the Black Grouse population here is growing wonderfully well - despite the older birds being culled. Not one penny has been spent on any study beyond the keepers having a general look at the hillside every now and again.
It's Balmoral Estate. Her Majesty won't allow those do-gooders onto her land.....