It is hard to believe now, but red grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica)- the bird that is synonymous with heather moorland and the Glorious Twelfth of August - were once spotted in Leeds. It was after a severe January snowstorm back in the 1880s when, according Thomas Hudson Nelson’s The Birds of Yorkshire (1907) “large packs of birds came down into the lowlands.” Others were seen around the villages of Arthington and Weeton in Lower Wharfedale. As many as 500 of them were counted in one day, and a decade later similar hard weather forced them to scratch for food in fields around Harrogate. Back then red grouse were far more widespread than they are today and not just found in the uplands. For instance, lowland heaths near Market Weighton once hosted fair-sized populations, but the heather has long since vanished under the plough and in Yorkshire red grouse are now confined to the higher grounds of the North York Moors, Yorkshire Dales, Peak District and South Pennines.