A place called Invercauld

Thurs 18 June  Copy

Henry parked in a layby somewhere between the River Dee and the River Don – I believe that this may be part of the Invercauld Estate. This area seemed to have very few birds and the usual large rectangular patches were burned into the hills. It wasn’t very pretty and Henry looks a bit unimpressed by it all, doesn’t he?

Management of land for driven grouse shooting is a highly intensive business – it seems to me to be ‘grouse first, everything else last’.  This certainly wasn’t the wader hot-spot of the Durham moors that is so impressive and which is the inconvenient truth for those who wish, like me, to ban driven grouse shooting (see Inglorious for the way I resolved this in my own mind). As we travelled this road, we did see the occasional wader but we didn’t need to get the binoculars out very often.

Does a Scandinavian drive over the watershed between the Dee and the Don, look across miles and miles of burned heather, and say ‘Why don’t we start this back home?’?  No, they don’t!  They might just ask ‘Why do you do it here?’.





11 Replies to “A place called Invercauld”

  1. I am sorry Mark but you paint an incorrect image of this area. I know after reading this blog for several years that you re anti royalist and I believe this is colouring your conclusions erroneously. In 1847 Queen Victoria bought the Ballochbuie forest from Invercauld Estate. If she hadn’t it would have been felled; It is now one of ,or possibly the finest area of Caledonian pinewood in Britain.There is a major project ongoing to preserve the population of around 30 capercailzie. : capercaillie_management_on_balmoral_estate I think it is a wonderful area and you should lean to appreciate it more instead of becoming one tracked on hen harriers !

    1. Dave – you seem to have got hold of the wrong end of the stick while barking up the wrong tree. Thanks for your comment. This blog is not about Balmoral.

      1. As you are probably well aware Balmoral adjoins Invercauld estate and in your blog of 16th June you said that you visited Balmoral. I am probably jumping the gun somewhat but it is so predictable what you are going to say about Balmoral Estate so my apologies !!

    2. The plans for capercaillie would have been considerably more impressive if the deer population had been culled to a level (as was originally suggested) that would have allowed forest regeneration over a far wider area without bird killing deer fences. Marking fences only reduces fatalities it doesn’t prevent them and the capercaillie population is in a critical situation. But the royals like their shooting, Prince Phil has bagged at least one tiger.

  2. Shooting organisations seem to be taking a different tack. On today’s BBC North West ‘news’, BASC have a spokesman questioning why Hen Harrier nests are being visited by conservationists to count eggs or fit trackers to chicks. The spokesman was allowed to imply that this is the reason why the raptors are failing, and the BBC reporter didn’t to ask how that caused males to disappear when they left the nest.

    There seems to be no mention of this on the BASC website, and unfortunately it isn’t easy to find on the BBC website as their ‘search’ is so poor that it can’t distinguish between ‘Bowland’ and ‘bowl’: £4,000,000,000 in TV-tax for that!

  3. Apparently Britain is too small for rewildling and bringing back the lynx etc. Funny doesn’t seem to be a problem having vast areas as outdoor deer/grouse factory farms for recreational shooting? At least rewilding wouldn’t contribute to flooding or increased water treatment charges. A good start would be having real National Parks, now there’s a dream.

    Re David N’s comments it’s increasingly common for shooters to blame the monitoring work done largely in response to persecution as the actual cause of the nesting failures and losses (pretty desperate and pathetic). Satellite tagged birds of prey have been described as ‘carrying more electronics than Maplins’, but funny thing is they seem to stop working over grouse moors. One former chairman of the Scottish Gamekeepers Association likes having a gripe about ‘Bird Botherers’ on his fb page. Supposedly eggs get chipped when ringed birds sit on them! I assume that’s why a gamekeeper was found with rings from FOUR golden eagles in a jar, he must have hypnotised them and took the rings off so they wouldn’t damage their eggs, and probably gave them a wee cuddle too. Must be me, but I would have thought the real Bird Botherers are the ones who put lead shot and carbofuran in them.

    1. Pretty desperate and pathetic but unfortunately, probably quite effective in some quarters. It is important that conservationists take every opportunity to counter this kind of rubbish before it takes hold.

    2. I have evidence that 2 satellite tagged Golden Eagles in my area have suffered from the transmitter harness coming loose and slipping down around the eagle’s neck rendering the device useless and a danger to the bird when the device and aerial hang down in front of the bird’s breast. So not all disappearances of tagged raptors are due to grouse moor persecution. Unfortunately the future cannot be predicted (as Mark says) and, ironically, I am sure that the raptor field workers who fitted these devices would never have thought that what they were doing might harm or indeed kill these birds.

      1. Dave – that’s very interesting, thank you for your comment. I’d be interested in what the evidence is and how the raptor workers involved have responded.

        Any intervention with a bird, such as tagging (wingtags or radiotags or satellite tags) carries a risk to the bird – that’s why such activities are licensed and only carried out by skilled people. The first time you fit a transmitter to a bird, such as an eagle, must be a very stressful time for any scientist or raptor worker – I think my hands would be shaking if I ever were to be in that position. I’m not very keen on projects which involve tagging for ‘fun’ – all such interventions should have a clear outcome in mind that will benefit the species of bird because any such intervention carries a risk for the individual bird concerned.

        There seem to be lots of untagged male Hen Harriers ‘disappearing’ in England this year.

  4. Alas, the usual ill-informed townie twaddle regarding Grouse Moors.
    I suggest, Sir, you get out of your car, and take a walk across any Grouse Moor – and you will see wildlife of every description.

    You might also take a little time to think of the people who live and work in rural areas whose traditions, livlihoods and culture is something which you neither try nor care to understand.

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