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Western capercaillie in Germany (1 Viewer)

AntonBE

Well-known member
Hi! A few Dutch friends and I have a few free days in mid December, and we were looking into the possibility of seeing Western Capercaillie in Germany then.
The first question is of course which of the populations is the most reliable to see, and the second is if it is reliable/possible to see them in the winter, more specifically in December? We were currently mainly interested in the Southern Bavarian population because of the proximity of other nice birds (woodpeckers, other grouse, potentially some Alpine species if we go high enough into the mountains), but more information about the Black Forest population is also welcome, which is of course much easier to get to from Belgium and The Netherlands! Are there any specific spots/trails in either of the regions that provide high chances of seeing capercaillie?

Any help is more than welcome,
Thanks in advance,

Anton
 
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Sangahyando

Well-known member
Germany
Sounds like a daunting task. It's theoretically possible to see them in and around the Black Forest National Park (where you may also find Nutcracker, Three-toed Woodpecker, and Citril Finch). From the Netherlands, that's the closest location IIRC. I'm sure some of them also occur farther south throughout the Black Forest (there was recently an article linked on this forum about some drunks in that region who received an educational beatdown for killing a Caper). I'd expect these species to be pretty difficult to find, though.
Sorry if that's a bit vague, I don't spend nearly as much time in the southern part of the country as I should.

For the Alps, have you checked the "birdinggermany" site for tips, including possible trails? If not, here it is again:

http://www.birdinggermany.de/Berchtesgaden.htm (key word "Auerhuhn", in case you're struggling with the language)
http://www.birdinggermany.de/allgaeu.htm (dito)
http://www.birdinggermany.de/auerhuhn.htm (this one lists a couple of sites in the Alps)
http://www.birdinggermany.de/bavarianwoodpeckers.htm (this one is in English)
 

jurek

Well-known member
Try Scotland or Scandinavia. In Germany it is very rare, very shy, and any area with a good probability of a sighting is likely closed for access, too.
 

albatross02

Well-known member
Try Scotland or Scandinavia. In Germany it is very rare, very shy, and any area with a good probability of a sighting is likely closed for access, too.

Because this I would avoid normal mountain hiking ways or go very early in the morning.
A friend of me go old ways which he find in books. Mostly the ways are difficult to find because nobody use them since many years. He found much more often Capercaillie than me, even though he does not look for it.

Scheinbergspitze skitour way useally not used outside ski saison.
In Skitour season is crowded.

If snow is avaialble check e.g.
https://www.alpenbahnen-spitzingsee.de/webcams/

Spitzingsee is located at 1.100 m. The peaks around about 1.600 m.
 

AntonBE

Well-known member
Thanks for all the responses! The Tatzelwurm area definitely seems interesting, so I think we will probably give it a shot! Besides capercaillie, are other 'target birds' (three-toed and white-backed woodpeckers, wallcreepers, hazel and black grouse, rock ptarmigans, alpine accentors, snowfinch, citril finch, perhaps owls, etc) possible in winter as well, or will they be very hard to find because they don't vocalize in December? The links provided already offer a lot of good locations for those species, but more specific information is also always welcome.

About the snow: are the roads accessible when it has snowed recently? Do you think it will be a big problem for walking/climbing the trails while birding? We will probably be there from the 19th until the 23rd of December, so I expect there will be quite a bit more snow than there is currently!

Thanks in advance!
 
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albatross02

Well-known member
Tatzelwurm is easy to hike, also with snow.
If is many snow, gaiter is recommended.
Owls have have in Munich in Forstenrieder Park ( start from U-Bahn station Forstenrieder Park ).
For Rock Ptarmigan and Wallcreeper best got in summer with lift to Karwendelspitze.
Same Alpine Accentor and Snow finch.
Hazel Groose is extrem shy. Mittel of April start form Oberau to Roßalm, there is good chance for hearing there wissle.
For Citril Finch go May or later to Moosenalm at Schafreuter.
For Rock Trush look in summer in Allgäu down south from Koblat hut.
Same for Rock Patridge. But low chance in breeding time.


About snow situation:
In this time can be half meter snow or green meadow. There is only schedule 3 days in front.

check
google meteomedia Wallberg
http://wetterstationen.meteomedia.de/station=109760&wahl=vorhersage

The mountain is 1.700 m.

or

http://wetterstationen.meteomedia.de/?station=109780&wahl=vorhersage

and

google Alpenverein Wetter
https://www.alpenverein.de/DAV-Services/Bergwetter/Alpen/#2019-11-20|weatherLayer
 

AntonBE

Well-known member
Thanks for all this great help, yet again! We're currently considering moving the trip to February, because it'd mean we'd have a bit more time. Will any of the birds, or the birding in general, be easier then? I imagine the woodpeckers will be drumming and thus be easier to find?
 

jurek

Well-known member
It may be easier, if the weather is sunny. Many birds like woodpeckers are vocal in February already, even in deep snow. Some songbirds may be visible around mountain huts or patches of no snow. However, I think that winter is a bad time for birding in the Alps. Definitely check snow situation before going high, for many sites may be closed and unreachable.
 

dalat

...
Nothing to add to the good practical info given already, but a word of caution: capercaille should not be searched in winter, birds are highly sensitive to disturbance and flushing them in winter costs them a lot of energy, which is problematic because they live of energy-poor pine needles in winter. Disturbance in winter is suspected to be one of the main reasons of their decline in the alps. Better look for them in late spring or automn. Automn is easiest for access, because no snow.
 
Nothing to add to the good practical info given already, but a word of caution: capercaille should not be searched in winter, birds are highly sensitive to disturbance and flushing them in winter costs them a lot of energy, which is problematic because they live of energy-poor pine needles in winter. Disturbance in winter is suspected to be one of the main reasons of their decline in the alps. Better look for them in late spring or automn. Automn is easiest for access, because no snow.

I live in the east of Sweden and I find it a little surprising that the capercillie would be so sensitive during winter. I will check if this conclusion is relevant in Scandinavia.
Being both a birder and a hunter I spend a lot of time in the pineforests where I live. I often find those birds and yes, from end of November they leave the blueberry on the ground for eating pine-needles. Though, winter is no problem for them. I own some small properties in the north, close to Lappland, and the capercillie there often sits in pines and eat needles in spite of temperatures around -20 to-30 degrees C. It is then possible to see several groups of birds within a few kilometers. Beautiful and contrasty in the snowy pines.

In end of July and beginning of August i check out how good the breeding has become. The hens with their chickens use to pick sand along forest-roads in the mornings and are easier to count then. I would say October is the best time to find them as they feed on the ground then. Half a day usually results in 2-8 capercillies, both males and females. Good years sometimes 12 in a day. Me and all my friends who work in the forests finds that the capercillie is increasing in the long term but with annual sometimes large variation. It is not an uncommon bird. Especially in the north of Sweden the year 2018 was extremely good for all tetrao-species. The capercillies occured in very large numbers. Old hunters I know in the north who used to speak of the year 1985 as the best they´ve seen ever told me; 2018 was better. This autumn ,2019, was not as good but especially the hazel grouse still has a good year i many areas.

When in trees during winter the capercillie may glide away among the pines without much noise and before you can see them. A capercillie always discovers you first. In March to May the males play and fight and doesn´t always leave immediately when you come along. A wonderful bird, therefore I hold the foxes and badgers down.
 
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