The project’s funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, LEADER, Scottish Landfill Communities Fund, the RSPB, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Forestry, the Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust and the Cairngorms National Park Authority. Together these organisations have secured the project's total budget of £517,700 to support the project through its Development Phase which ends in March 2020. An application will then be submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund seeking further funding to deliver the project’s plans from 2020 to 2023.
European LIFE funding and a Scottish Forestry funded programme significantly improved conditions for capercaillie from the late 1990s to 2006. It’s generally accepted that without this funding capercaillie may well have gone extinct in the UK. More recently the Cairngorms Capercaillie Framework was produced by a number of organisations in 2015. The Framework set out a series of recommendations to help secure the long-term future of capercaillie in the UK. The Cairngorms Capercaillie Project was developed in response, with a particular focus on the issue of human disturbance as research shows this reduces the amount of living space available for capercaillie.
Introducing new birds or translocating existing populations in the UK are both valid options to help secure the long-term future of capercaillie in the UK but only if we can be confident that the original reasons for decline won’t simply wipe the birds out again.
Research has found that unmarked deer fences are a cause of mortality in woodland grouse and by marking fences capercaillie collisions have been reduced by 64%. The project has therefore been working with Seafield Estate to mark fences in capercaillie areas.
Fences can be marked with both wooden droppers and plastic netting. The issue of the use of plastic netting is one that both the project, the Cairngorms National Park Authority and Seafield Estate are aware of and wish to avoid the use of plastic wherever possible. Fencing has therefore been marked with wooden droppers whenever this method is viable.
The choice of material used for marking is based on the age of the fence and the impact of the material on the fence. Older fences and those in exposed areas are unable to bear the weight of wooden droppers. Bamboo canes have been used as an alternative, but are not always effective so on particular sites, plastic netting is used as this extends the life of the fence and still reduces the potential for capercaillie mortalities.
The village was chosen due to the local capercaillie population, the popularity of the village with visitors and the diversity of residents.
The presence of capercaillie around Carrbridge has been public knowledge for many years and protecting the birds from disturbance particularly during lek season remains a challenge as a minority of bird watchers continue to visit known lek sites around the village. Capercaillie are a protected species making it illegal to intentionally or recklessly disturb the birds during lek season. The project's Community Ranger has therefore been maintaining a presence in capercaillie areas around the village during nesting and breeding season in order to advise people and report any illegal activity.
Capercaillie are protected under UK and European law. This means its an offence to knowingly disturb capercaillie whilst they're;
- nest building
- at or near a nest with eggs or young
It's also an offence to;
- disturb the dependent young of a capercaillie
- obstruct or prevent a capercaillie from using its nest
- damage, destroy or interfere with a capercaillie nest while it's in use or being built
- kill, injure or take a capercaillie
- take or destroy the eggs of a capercaillie
If you'd like more guidance or to share information please get in touch and for more detail you can also download the guide to responsible capercaillie watching.
The Cairngorms Capercaillie Project wants to enable more people to get involved in capercaillie conservation. As such the project aims to be inclusive. Project events in Carrbridge have and will continue to be open to all to ensure people who want to learn more about capercaillie and how they can help can access this information. The project is also keen to listen and learn from people visiting or holidaying in the village who may be interested in capercaillie and ways they can help.
This isn’t an objective for the project. However, if Carrbridge residents want to pursue this idea and there’s consensus for it the project will do what it can to help.
No. It’s up to Carrbridge residents to decide what they do and don’t want to do to help capercaillie but residents may wish, for example, to create a safe space for their local capercaillie somewhere relevant and practical around the village. If residents wanted to pursue this idea the project would work with them to achieve it.
The project is only reinforcing existing guidance regards dog walking around the village and encouraging dog walkers to voluntarily keep their dogs on leads in the woods north of the village where capercaillie are present.
Capercaillie are both rare and elusive birds so it can be difficult to monitor their numbers. As capercaillie typically return to the same lek sites each year surveys at these sites are currently the simplest and most accurate way to monitor the birds. The presence of surveyors at leks has not been found to prevent birds from lekking or returning to lek sites as all surveyors follow a strict protocol to minimise disturbance.