Posts Tagged ‘Scotland Birding Tours


Poor Rogue

The Capercaille is a large grouse about the size of a Turkey; aggressive and brash. It couldn’t live anywhere else but Scotland could it?

Rare, elusive and enigmatic are other words that have been used to describe the ‘Horse of the Woods’ called so because of the guttural clopping, pops and whistles it makes when displaying sound like an approaching horse.

I was looking forward to showing a ‘Rogue Capercaille’ to the group last Sunday during the first of our Birding tours in Scotland this month. A ‘Rogue Caper’ is one that has lost all inhibition and displays to people, vehicles, dogs … in fact anything that happens to pass through the territory of this normally shy bird. They occur only occasionally and this individual had been around since last year. Thanks to Simon, our local contact and friend, I knew it had been seen the day before we visited.

As we walked among the true Caledonian Forest with that rich understory of heather mosses and shrubs we saw quite a large Trout in the talons of an Osprey flying directly over us, we had good views of a male Crossbill stood atop a pine and heard the occasional Crested Tit ‘piping-up’ under the calls of the Siskins. A Capercaille within touching distance would surely be the icing on the cake.

As we approached the area where the bird usually shows I could see a bundle of feathers aside the track. The bird had obviously been hit by a vehicle and had succumbed to the incident. Disappointment and frustration were just some of the emotions we all felt on seeing this travesty which was the undoubted low-point of our weekend. There are only some 1500 Capercaille in the whole of Scotland when not so long ago numbers had been twentyfold that figure. We cannot afford to lose any more to carelessness.

Although we did see other Capercaille this weekend I guess the death of the rogue is all part of life and the demise of this individual must be viewed in context but he will be sorely missed by the many who saw him. We laid him to rest away from the track in the forest; a fitting resting place for the Caledonian King.

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Mar 2023


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