Friday, November 02, 2007

The Devil and the Deep Blue C

The capercaillie is a magnificent bird. I've seen a few in Abernethy Forest - mostly glimpses of huge turkeys flying through the trees during an early morning RSPB trip to see black grouse, but also during an excellent morning at Loch Garten (they open the osprey hide early as it overlooks a lek) when a cock bird flew onto the top of a small pine tree and strutted his stuff. You could see his breath in the morning air. I've got some dreadful video shot through a telescope, but it was too far for photo's. I'd never heard of digiscoping at that time and didn't even own a compact digital camera. For once just watching was enough. This is a shot I've 'borrowed', but it does show the true blue underlying the apparent black plumage.

These next shots are mine, taken near Loch an Eilean from what is probably best described as a commercial hide. The light was very low and the camera struggled, but again this was something to just enjoy. Pine marten are regarded as (one of) the predators needing controlling by some gamekeepers.

So what's the link? An RSPB volunteer has studied the nests of capercaillie in Abernethy and has found that pine marten had raided the nests of nearly all. Capercaillie are a protected species. the UK population is less than 2,000. The Biodiversity Action Plan is aiming for 5,000 by 2011 (the original aim was 20,000).

Pine marten are also a protected species. A conservation nightmare - or just life in the raw?

[thanks to BBC Wildlife magazine, yet again]

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