Glorious Twelfth

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Red grouse

The Glorious Twelfth is the twelfth day of August, the start of the shooting season for red grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotica), and to a lesser extent the ptarmigan (Lagopus muta) in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The date itself is traditional; the current legislation enshrining it in England and Wales is the Game Act 1831 (and in Northern Ireland, the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985). Not all game (as defined by the 1831 act) have the same start to their open seasons – most begin on 1 September, with 1 October for woodcock and pheasant.[1] Since English law prohibits game bird shooting on a Sunday, the start date is postponed to 13 August on years when the 12th falls on a Sunday.[2][3]

Because heather moorland is managed for shooting, the population density of red grouse is unnaturally high.[4] However, advocates claim that moorland managed for grouse shooting typically contains high levels of biodiversity, including ground-nesting birds (such as lapwing, curlew, meadow pipit, golden plover, redshank and woodcock, in addition to red grouse) and raptors.[5] Diseases such as sheep tick, heather beetle (which affects the heather which several of these species eat) and the gut parasite Trichostrongylus tenuis,[6] can impact population sizes.

In recent years, the Glorious Twelfth has also been hit by hunt saboteurs, the 2001 foot and mouth crisis (which further postponed the date in affected areas)[7] and severe flooding and bad weather. In some seasons where certain moors are hit by low numbers of grouse, shooting may not occur at all or may be over by September.

Some restaurants in London have prided themselves for years on being able to serve grouse on the Glorious Twelfth, with the birds shot that morning immediately transported to London by train. This continues to this day.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Wild birds: management and legal protection". DEFRA. 26 June 2013. Retrieved 14 August 2013.
  2. ^ Scott, Kirsty (13 August 2001). "Glorious Twelfth hit by foot and mouth". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 26 December 2010.
  3. ^ "'Glorious 13th' for grouse season". BBC News. 13 August 2007. Retrieved 26 December 2010.
  4. ^ Macdonald, Benedict (2019). Rebirding: Rewilding Britain and its birds. Pelagic Publishing. p. 165.
  5. ^ "New study shows grouse moor management is helping to slow curlew decline". Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust. 8 August 2023. Retrieved 14 August 2023.
  6. ^ "Grouse season 'not so glorious'". BBC News. 12 August 2004. Retrieved 26 December 2010.
  7. ^ Clover, Charles (8 May 2001). "Glorious Twelfth cancelled in areas affected by virus". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 9 May 2012.