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scotland trip (1 Viewer)

Paul Longland

Well-known member
I know that there are various previous threads on this topic and I have seen a few of them which is prompting my enquiry. Myself and my birding buddy have an opportunity for a trip to the highlands late april/early may. Unfortunately due to the travelling distances involved we will only have four days birding and wish to make the most of this. We visited a couple of years ago in june but are still desperate to try and catch up with a caper. The other main target is corncrake. Are these mutually exclusive? The plan is to spend 2 days in cairngorm and 2 on mull/iona. Also I am led to believe that the rspb caper watch has been somewhat unreliable over the last few years with no birds showing after the second week of April. Can anyone confirm the situation. Are there any other public sites where they can be seen without disturbance. The only info seems to be from tour guides and we do not really want to spend a whole day with an organised tour.

Would we be better to just forget them and come later to ensure corncrake and spend some time sea watching for skuas etc? Any help would be appreciated. (I am returning in july for a family holiday to Skye but birding will be restricted to what I can get away with whilst doing the tourist thing)
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
First Corncrakes should be arriving in late April, and they're easier to see then as the Iris beds are not tall enough to hide them yet. That's how I got Corncrake, calling out in the open in short Iris spears that barely reached above its belly, seen from the road inside 3 minutes of getting off the ferry on Iona :t:
 

ClarkWGriswold

Carpe Carpum
Staff member
Supporter
Wales
A Caper was showing in early May last year at Loch Garten. Unfortunately I was 10 minutes late:-C

Rich
 

gordon hamlett

Well-known member
Apart from the RSPB Caper watch, there are no publicised sites. Similarly, birders are asked not to go looking for them at this time of year for the simple reason that they are extremely susceptible to disturbance at or near the lek. This includes chasing rogue capers too - the powers that be are cracking down on photographers and birders getting too close.

You might come across a bird in the local woods at dawn or dusk, but again, you are asked to keep to the paths and not go chasing off into the undergrowth.

I have seen them at Loch Garten at various times during the day, not just the early morning caper watch - it's just a case of being lucky. If caper is your main target bird, you might be better advised to try an autumn trip.

This is from the Capercaillie code of conduct

•The capercaillie is listed on Schedule 1 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981. This makes it illegal to intentionally disturb birds when nesting.
•The RSPB provides opportunities to watch capercaillies lekking from its Osprey Centre at RSPB Abernethy Forest nature reserve, Strathspey, during April and May. Telephone 01479 821409. Away from here, capercaillie leks should not be visited at all during the crucial April-May period.
•Capercaillies can be easier to see in autumn (from September), as there are usually more birds once juveniles have fledged.
•Capercaillies are less disturbed by vehicles than by walkers; if you have vehicular access to a forest, remain inside with the engine switched off and observe birds quietly until they have moved back into the forest.
•Use well-defined tracks and paths, to which birds will often come in search of grit. Do not wander in heather and blaeberry/bilberry, especially between May and August when nesting hens and young birds may be present. Flushing them can split up broods, exposing them to predators, or cause birds to fly into fences. Every year, deer fences kill an estimated quarter of juvenile capercaillies.
•For the best chance of seeing capercaillies, book with a reputable Scottish wildlife tour company, which may have special arrangements with private estates and experience of showing capercaillies to visitors.
HTH

Gordon Hamlett, Author of Best Birdwatching Sites in the Scottish Highlands
 

pe'rigin

Well-known member
Paul, do you think you're trying to jam-pack too much into a tight time period?

Traveling time across Scotland is always under-estimated, plus I don't want to jinks it but the weather could send all the birds running for cover.

You can hire a guide on Mull for 2 days, with a wish-list, the caper I think will be difficult.
 

delia todd

If I said the wrong thing it was a Senior Moment
Staff member
Opus Editor
Supporter
Scotland
pe'rigin said:
You can hire a guide on Mull for 2 days

.... or even a couple of hours if you want, though that won't get you Corncrake.

On Iona, turn left off the ferry and head to the fire station. When I went, there was a group of birders hanging around - one had been seen there that morning (10 May) and about an hour before I got there.... hummmph!!

I heard a couple in the fields at the back of the Abbey too. They're still on my wish list!

The Opus article about Mull, has some information and links, which you might find useful.
 

Paul Longland

Well-known member
I appreciate the fact that we should not disturb them hence the comment about not wanting to wander around in the woods by oyrselves. We are responsible middle aged birders and no bird is ever a tick at all costs for us. If the crakes are likely to be around late april we will probably do last week in april and avoid the bank holiday week and just trust to luck with the capers. By the way thanks for your fantastic book which was invaluable when we visited the area a couple of years back. May have to get a new copy as mine got very dog eared through use. Keep up the good work.
 

ClarkWGriswold

Carpe Carpum
Staff member
Supporter
Wales
Story of my life Rich. I suppose we will just have to trust to luck and go back again if we dip. 8-P
100% agree Paul. I forgot to say good luck on your trip. There's still a chance I might be able to get a couple of days up in Scotland next week. I'll post it up in a trip report if I do.

Rich
 

Sandra (Taylor)

Registered User
Supporter
I appreciate the fact that we should not disturb them hence the comment about not wanting to wander around in the woods by oyrselves. We are responsible middle aged birders and no bird is ever a tick at all costs for us. If the crakes are likely to be around late april we will probably do last week in april and avoid the bank holiday week and just trust to luck with the capers. By the way thanks for your fantastic book which was invaluable when we visited the area a couple of years back. May have to get a new copy as mine got very dog eared through use. Keep up the good work.

We have had our best views of capers on Speyside without actively searching for them. As you drive on roads with forest on each side just be aware that you may see one flying across the road. And you and any passengers should look on the forest floor at each side - and in trees. We had great views of one on the forest floor a few feet into the trees and watched it from the car until a refuse lorry stopped by us to see what we were looking at - or what we had been looking at!!
 

Paul Longland

Well-known member
100% agree Paul. I forgot to say good luck on your trip. There's still a chance I might be able to get a couple of days up in Scotland next week. I'll post it up in a trip report if I do.

Rich
hope to see a thread titled Caper at last or similar from you. good luck. There is of course always the compensation of a free tour around Glenlivet distillery if the birds won't come out to play. Free samples too. I heartily recommend the 18yr old. B :)
 

Paul Longland

Well-known member
We have had our best views of capers on Speyside without actively searching for them. As you drive on roads with forest on each side just be aware that you may see one flying across the road. And you and any passengers should look on the forest floor at each side - and in trees. We had great views of one on the forest floor a few feet into the trees and watched it from the car until a refuse lorry stopped by us to see what we were looking at - or what we had been looking at!!
Some people get all the luck. I suppose it is like all birding. you have to keep your eyes open and hope to be in the right place at the right time.
 

ClarkWGriswold

Carpe Carpum
Staff member
Supporter
Wales
hope to see a thread titled Caper at last or similar from you. good luck. There is of course always the compensation of a free tour around Glenlivet distillery if the birds won't come out to play. Free samples too. I heartily recommend the 18yr old. B :)

I'll have to whisper this3:) but I can't stand the stuff. Dark Island from the Orkney Brewery ... well that's a different matter entirelyB :)

You're probably already aware Paul, but it's entirely feasible to go to Iona for the day from Speyside if you don't mind a longish drive. I saw Corncrakes to the side of the Abbey when I was there in May.

Rich
 

den mather

Well-known member
Hi Paul
We caught corncrakes (to put transponders on them as part of a joint Czech/German project) at night. Obviously, I'm not advocating disturbing the birds in any way just to observe them, but if you have a clear night they are more boldly active and their constant calls will immediately tell you if they are present in any field and if there is an open area there I would advocate a mix of staking it out when the calls tell you they are nearby.
It's good fun being out in the moonlight anyway and you never know what will turn up if you sit still!
Good luck Den
 

Dmacaskill

Well-known member
Hi Paul, if i were you i would try the Loch Garten Caper watch, i have seen Capers on most visits, its mostly down to luck! can't help with Corncrake on Mull, but quite easy to see on North Uist at that time .




Dean
 

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