Monday, 24 February 2014

Crested Tits and Capercaillie, Loch Garten

Somewhere in the Cairngorms

With nothing planned for the day I spent the first hour of the morning driving round the local area, the sightings board in the hotel had reports of Capercaillie, most of which were seen from or by the road. Half way through the hour I had twice laid rubber on the road after sighting large black birds in fields adjacent to the forest. I would really support the banning of black chickens on Scottish farms. As a result of my meanderings I passed Loch Garten again and on dropping into the car park learned that Cresties were about so I set up the gear and waited. Sure enough one turned up and I captured a few more shots.

Then all hell broke loose, two birders that turned up had come across an obliging Caper and were happy to share the location. Another birder left before me and I waited a reasonable time before departing the scene. I have to admit that my heart was pumping as I made my way to the site. In fact my brain had also gone into headless chicken mode as,  when I dumped the car at the side of the road and grabbed the camera, I forgot to change my footwear and went straight into the forest bog in trainers - who cared  - this was a Caper hunt.  Sure enough there, up a tree, was a male Capercaillie tucking into a breakfast of pine needles - definitely not stressed.  One advantage of a big lens is that you can stand off a bird and not have to get too close to get frame filling pictures, consequently I felt comfortable that I wouldn't be disturbing the bird. Eventually the bird displayed signs  of being irritated by the onlookers and left the tree. There is a code of conduct for Capercaillies and I am glad that the birders present withdrew, having captured sufficient shots to record what is a magnificent bird.

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