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Go on a date with a courting black grouse; naturewatch.

Byline: LARA HALLETT

NOT a far cry from some of the more interesting sights seen in Wales' pubs and bars on a Saturday night, the peculiar mating dance of the black grouse is something not to be missed.

The head dip, rear up and flailing feather could very well have been the inspiration for the Blues Brothers classic - Shake your tail feather.

These comical displays, known as "leks", are performed by groups of males as a part of their mating ritual. s

The pressure to perform is high, as the female observes the routine and selects her mating partner based on the display.

Once the birds have mated, the female then leaves to rear her chicks alone. Having won the first dance-off, the male continues to woo, seeking more female partners.

Given the long-term decline of the species, which was accelerated in the 1990s, a recovery programme was put into operation to maintain the presence of this remarkable bird. Having teetered on the verge of extinction, 2010 was the year of the comeback, with a 38% increase in numbers. Sadly, given the rarity of this species, not many people have had the opportunity to see these magnificent spectacles in action.

Now, thanks to RSPB Cymru, you can come along and see this spectacular sight for yourself, going on a date with nature at Coed Llandegla Forest, North Wales on selected dates from March 12 - May 20.

Here you will be given a guided tour of this dazzling display of courtship, while also listening to the forest wake up at dawn.

To book a place on the walks email cymru@rspb.org.uk There are also other opportunities to witness some of Wales' fantastic spectacles.

Watch the black grouse strut its stuff, witness the striking red kite soar above the Welsh skies, or jump on board a wild cruise to Puffin Island - visit www.rspb.org.uk/datewithnature for more information on events throughout Wales. Lara Hallett is Communications Officer for RSPB Cymru.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Feb 22, 2011
Words:332
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