The Sunday Post (Newcastle)

Walkers warned to let rare capercaill­ies breed in peace this spring

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Ramblers and dog walkers in the Cairngorms have been warned to avoid disrupting the mating ritual of the rare capercaill­ie.

Capercaill­ies may not breed at all if their mating display – known as a lek – is interrupte­d, and the birds’ future survival depends on it.

But there are fears an influx of visitors to the Cairngorms National Park could lead to the birds being disturbed.

More than 80% of the remaining capercaill­ies in the UK live in the park, and a team of eight people, including a community ranger, are working to protect them.

Now Jocasta Mann, of the

Cairngorms Capercaill­ie Project, has posted a warning against disturbing the turkeysize­d birds’ mating rituals.

She said: “If undisturbe­d, a lek site will host generation­s of these displays. But if it is disturbed, especially during the very short window where female capercaill­ie are in season, they might not breed at all that year. Since they’re incredibly rare in Scotland, each year really does count.”

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