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Capercaillie thriving on two Scottish estates - Why just there?

27/11/2012 17:58:08
birds/2012_december/capercaillie_FC

Scientists are trying to understand why capercaillie are thriving on a few estates, but not across most of their distribution.

Local capercaillie success encourages ‘Friends' to find out more

November 2012. A group of capercaillie experts and enthusiasts have been visiting two Highland estates to find out why numbers of the rare species are increasing in the face of serious declines in other parts of Scotland.

The Friends of Capercaillie were invited to visit the Forestry Commission Scotland owned Inshriach Forest and the privately owned Glenfeshie Estate. Across Scotland - the only place in Britain where capercaillies are found - there are thought to be fewer than 1,300 of these magnificent turkey sized birds remaining. Nationally they appear to be declining still further in their former strongholds like Deeside, but the Speyside population is holding up well and even increasing on some sites, in spite of ‘challenging' summer weather which affects productivity.

Lekkers
From only 9 lekking cocks counted in 2006, lek counts this year reported 33 cocks across Inshriach and at Glenmore, the Commission's other forest in the area.

Graeme Prest, who manages Forestry Commission Scotland's Inverness, Ross & Skye District, said: "Numbers in Inshriach have increased - and the increase is impressive considering the big declines over much of the rest of the range. Something appears to being working well here for Capercaillie - and we were keen to show the ‘Friends' what we have been doing and the impact it appears to be having. Much of that success seems to come down to the fact that we are learning how to manage our multi-purpose forests Scots pine forests in ways that allow us to strike a balance between the needs of capercaillie and the demands of timber production and recreation.

New way of working
"It's a fairly new way of working that demonstrates that with careful planning, capercaillie populations can thrive in forests that produce timber. It appears to have achieved some very positive results. There is still have work to do but we hope the Friends will get some ideas of what measures might be taken in other areas to try to help reverse the decline of caper populations."

As well as learning more about the work of Forestry Commission Scotland in the area, the group were also given a unique insight into how privately run estates are making efforts to conserve the capercaillie.

Thomas MacDonell, Director of Conservation for WildLand Limited and Mr Anders Holch Povlsen, who manages and owns the Glenfeshie Estate, said: "It's been a real pleasure to welcome the Friends of Capercaillie, and to share our capercaillie success story. We now have approximately 800ha of forest regeneration in Glenfeshie following extensive deer reduction a few years ago, and the response of the capercaillie and other species such as black grouse to this new mosaic of rich habitats is exciting."

The Friends of Capercaillie - made up of conservationists, landowners and anyone with an interest in capercaillie - works with private landowners, Scottish Government and financial supporters, to reverse the decline of capercaillie, undertaking both conservation and advisory work. It is led by the Earl of Lindsay and it seeks to highlight the plight of the capercaillie and to focus attention on its survival requirements.

Inshriach is managed by Forestry Commission Scotland, which works closely with RSPB and Rothiemurcus Estates to manage land in ways that will improve the habitat for capercaillie.

If you are interested in helping this work and joining the ‘Friends of Capercaillie' contact alison.connelly@rspb.org.uk for a joining form.

Read the comments about this article and leave your own comment

caper

i agree with susan, we are never given the true picture as to how these birds are surviving. having been to this area, i was told by very upset locals about the mass slaughter of the deer population that they have been used to seeing. and again, i doubt there will any wildcats/foxes/pine martens either. not a very level playing field ! why cant humans leave things be ? the wild kingdom should be a mixture not a habitat in isolation ? saw a caper scape once ! impressive, but would rather watch wildcats/pine martens !! down here in the south great bustards have been reintroduced to the detriment of other wildlife .why ? they vanished years ago due to persecution. let it go and live with the fact that humans are responsible for species loss.

Posted by: dee donworth | 03 Dec 2012 19:00:09

more info please

While the article is interesting it is a shame that the Glenfeshie estate and the FCS did not detail what they have done to improve numbers of Capercaillie and Black Grouse it is very vague on detail. The article mentions "extensive" deer reduction when deer in nature have always been the original natural woodland managers creating an open woodland habitat with lots of light to the forest floor and good sight lines for the evasion of predators - but of course inconvenient to agroforestry. In the past it would have been deer numbers that would determine the number of it's own natural predators not the other way around. Estates encourage high numbers of deer by supplementary feeding through the winter so there are plenty to shoot for revenue. The FC are well known for their eagerness at shooting deer.

I also suspect there will be high predator control on this estate which I understand Inshriach neighbours. Snaring is the most popular, easiest, effective and one of the least humane methods of control and if this is employed there is no way that wildcats, a game predator, could not be targeted. Keepers always deny catching wildcat of course as this is not PC. Is it possible to get a detailed outline of the plan.

Posted by: susan foster | 28 Nov 2012 22:35:15

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