Welcome to the latest edition of Heather Routes the Scottish Countryside Alliance electronic newsletter.
However useful our increasing use of the digital resources available in the 21st Century might be, we must not forget that by far the best form of communication is face to face. We are midway through our show season and I am delighted to say that the level of engagement on a wide range of topics has been refreshing and informative.
In the last few days I have spoken with many members and supporters as they react to the news that Sir Barney White-Spunner has announced he will be stepping down as its Executive Chairman after the AGM in September and the prospect of change. It has been our pleasure to have worked with Sir Barney as someone who showed an interest and understanding of the complex nature of Scottish politics and land management practices. He brought much needed stability to the Countryside Alliance and wrestled with some of the most intractable issues facing the British countryside. He leaves the Alliance in good heart and we are hugely grateful for his efforts.
I am delighted to announce that the Board has appointed Director of Campaigns, Tim Bonner, to take charge as Chief Executive. Tim is an exceptional candidate and no stranger to Scotland. He will provide continuity whilst pushing forward the evolution of the Alliance and our campaigns. We remain committed to providing a voice for rural minorities however controversial the issue, and the organisation must continue to adapt to maintain its influence in an ever-changing world. We look forward to working with Tim to achieve the best possible representation for our members and supporters in Scotland in what is best described as a very trying time.
Many of you will be aware of the recent political intervention from the SNP MPs in relation to the proposed amendments to the Hunting Act in England and Wales. However unwarranted, what is done is done. I wanted to reassure you that we are working with colleagues across Scotland and further afield, to present the most robust defence in supporting those actively involved in the legal control of foxes.
I took pen to paper and wrote words of admiration for the hunting and farming communities who held the faith in the dark days after the 2002 act was implemented in Scotland. We must recognise and commend the resilience of hunting folk – the fact that we still have this form of fox control in Scotland is testament to the determination of the people involved.
Sadly, our need for your involvement has come again and I ask that those who perhaps let their membership lapse consider re-joining and add your voice as we seek to silence those who wish to colour the judgement of politicians with subjective and contrived rhetoric.
We would be delighted to see you at the Highland Field Sports Fair at Moy. Come along and have a chat, join or purchase one of our unique Scottish Countryside Alliance campaign badges or purchase online from this link.
Below my piece is an invitation from Mulberry Bank Auctioneers to those attending Moy to join us for a dram between 11pm - 4pm this Saturday.
SCA Staff and members were joined recently by staff and members from the Song Bird Survival Trust to participate in an understanding predation workshop.
The project is founded on a shared aspiration to have healthy populations of all wild birds in Scotland. To achieve this it will first be necessary to: establish and agree what the current state of knowledge is, and consider the effectiveness of existing management options. This understanding will provide an objective appraisal and a firm evidence base upon which any future discussions can be based.
In 2005, the Moorland Forum published 'The Impacts of Predatory Birds on Waders, Songbirds, Gamebirds and Fisheries Interests. This review focused on Scottish predatory bird species: all regularly occurring raptors and owls, Raven, Cormorant, Shag, Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser and Grey Heron. It summarised the existing level of knowledge on population sizes and trends since 1960.
The science behind this report was excellent, but there were always concerns about the way the ‘anecdotal evidence’ (as it was then referred to) collected from stakeholders was included. Full value was never obtained from this report and it was largely ignored.
The Understanding Predation project will focus on waders and gamebirds in the uplands and lowlands, and MF members identified six species they wanted to consider in depth: Golden Plover, Curlew, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Grey Partridge and Black Grouse. Other species and interactions were excluded because they are the subject of on-going work. The project has three main work streams:
The science contained in the 2005 report will be reviewed and new information will be incorporated.
The views of stakeholders will be captured in two phases. First, the project will run workshops with Moorland Forum organisations, to gather their views and capture their knowledge and experience. Second, three seminars will be held across the country to discuss the draft report and to gather views from stakeholders about the findings. These views will then be incorporated into the final report.
Integration of Information
The final report will therefore review and contrast the scientific and local knowledge, so that the conclusions from the project will be based on both forms of knowledge.
More information, including the final Project Plan, is available on the Project’s webpage.
Anyone who has a view about the issues that the project is addressing is encouraged to provide input by any means. The workshops and seminars provide formal opportunities for input, but I would welcome other views about the work from anyone, by any means. Communications by telephone, e-mail, Twitter and through this Blog are all available.
Mulberry Bank Auctions will be attending the Highland Field Games Fair in Moy on 7th & 8th August in association with the Scottish Countryside Alliance. Attending on both days will be auctioneer and valuer Sheldon Cameron and on Saturday 8th Stewart Smith, the Whisky and Wine specialist will be on hand from 11am until 4pm to provide some samples of Whisky to those lucky enough not to be designated drivers, and any advice on your hidden/ forgotten bottles. You may have a fortune hidden away in those lofts and cupboards!
Our next Whisky Auction will be held on 25th August so there is still time to enter those dusty bottles.
Iceland to sell Kezie Foods Grouse ready for the Glorious Twelfth
Birds to be available from early August onwards
The first available Grouse of the season are usually reserved for the restaurants & shops of the elite, but this year the supermarket chain Iceland is offering frozen birds from Scotland and Northern England for a fraction of the cost. Two birds will be available oven ready per pack, at a cost of £8.99. Whereas fresh birds from Harrods last year were being sold for £14.50 each.
Grouse have a rich game flavour, they are traditionally roasted whole for around 12 minutes and served with a fruit jelly or fruit sauce. The grouse available from Iceland will need to be defrosted overnight, poached in a pouch for 11-12 minutes and then pan seared in butter and oil & basted for a golden brown finish.
On the glorious twelfth there is usually a race from the moorlands to the table, but even these frozen grouse will be limited to 12 packs per store. The grouse run alongside a speciality meat section in stores, with meats such as Wild Boar, Venison, Kangaroo, Ostrich and More.
Other UK supermarkets pulled Grouse from the shelves after heat from protesters, but the fact remains that grouse shooting can be a sustained industry which is supportive of both the rural environment and rural economies.
Jamie Stewart director at the Scottish Countryside Alliance said “I think it is great that some of the bigger shops such as Iceland are supporting our rural
communities. It is a great chance for the UK public to try something different, whilst also supporting an ongoing commitment to moorland biodiversity.”
New grouse recipe leaflet launched ahead of the Glorious 12th
The Countryside Alliance's dedicated game promotion campaign, Game-to-Eat, has launched a new grouse recipe leaflet ahead of the Glorious 12th. The leaflet features grouse recipes donated by some of the country's top game chefs including Tom Kitchin, Mark Hix, our development chef Lee Maycock and new trailblazing game outfits including Eat Wild and John Doe. Try grilled spatchcock grouse, smoked grouse crostini, grouse pate or a beer-can grouse with BBQ sauce. Get your copy now from firstname.lastname@example.org.
The foreword to the leaflet reads:
Grouse shooting is at the heart of the British uplands and it is of enormous economic, social and environmental importance. For many, however, the favourite part of a day’s shooting is the quarry, and of all our feathered game grouse are widely considered to be the king.
Red grouse are a totally wild game bird unique to Britain, and they are restricted by the distribution of heather moorland that is managed for shooting. With the darkest meat of all game birds, and a distinctive flavour, this recipe booklet contains a collection of recipes that have been provided specially for Game to Eat by some of our top chefs. It is our firm belief that red grouse can and should be enjoyed by as many people as possible – and no other recipe booklet before has shown so many different and innovative ways in which to do so.
From the ever popular classic roast grouse that is featured by Tom Kitchin, to the more unusual grouse kebab or fried grouse legs, this booklet shows you how to enjoy, learn and experience more ways to cook red grouse than ever before. It shows just how adaptable, fun, and easy it is to cook when compared with many other meats, and why it should be up there with the best that this Country has to offer.
We hope you enjoy trying the recipes, and will publicise the booklet to your friends so that together we can achieve the demand and appreciation for red grouse that it so rightly deserves, both in our homes and in our restaurants.