Strathspey is strong-hold for rare birds

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Deeside is one of the key areas for a once near extinct bird species to reclaim it’s place in Scotland’s wildlife heritage but Strathspey is the best.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) recently published a report in partnership with RSPB Scotland and the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) which investigates the factors associated with capercaillie breeding success.

The Scottish capercaillie is of high conservation concern as the population has declined to between 1,000-2,000 birds since the 1970s.

Strathspey remains the stronghold with around 75% of the Scottish population, however capercaillie productivity varies across the region.

The report reaffirms the complex relationships between the success of capercaillie in rearing young and habitat structure, predator activity and weather during the egg-laying and brood rearing period.

Some relevant elements include weather, pine marten activity, and availability of blaeberry leaves.

Justin Prigmore of the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA) said: “Strathspey is the most important area in Scotland for the species and is the only area where numbers have remained relatively stable.

“It is essential that we do all we can to ensure their long-term survival here.

“This work shows that it is a complicated picture but helps direct where we need to focus effort for the future and will further inform the Cairngorms Capercaillie Framework which is working across this landscape scale.”

Dennis Robertson MSP, said: “I was just visiting Finzean recently and was told that the old Scots Pine forests there are a breeding ground for the capercaillie.

“The report indicates that the blaeberry leaves, a key food source for the birds, found in older forests have a better chemical defence against other herbivores, leaving more available for the capercaillies.

“I am delighted that the breeding is going well and I welcome improvements to the programme that may come from the report.”

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