Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)

A Capercaillie on the Monte Grappa

The Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus) is a rare species in Italy, with a distribution that spreads from northern Lombardy to most of the eastern Alps ranges. Even if now completelly protected, it is still decreasing in number, expecially on the southern edge of its distribution, supposely because of climate changes. In this situation can happen that lonely males, without the possibility to find easily a female, loose their fear of humans and get very agressive against almost every creature they meet, becoming truly like mad.

I received the report that one of this mad individuals was reported on the mount Grappa, on the border among Belluno, Treviso and Vicenza provinces, so I decided to go there to have a look. The cock used to walk on a slope with beech woodland, stopping on the obvious point like stumps or mounds to perform its song.

Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)
Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)
Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)

Completelly fearless, the bird was easy to approach, but, going closer than 10-15 meters, it has become very agressive, attacking me. What I’ve understood was that in that situation, on a steep slope, with a so uncontainable individual, the bird and the observers were both in danger: watchers in danger to fall because of attacks, bird because of unpredictable reaction of attacked people in trouble, potentially violent.

I managed to take some good pictures, so I decided to leave in peace the bird.

Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)
Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)
Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)

On the way back, I stopped to watch some interesting flowers as well, including Elder-flowered Orchid (Dactylorhiza sambucina) and Military Orchid (Orchis militaris): not only birdwatching in the Monte Grappa, the flora can be interesting too.

Elder-flowered Orchid (Dactylorhiza sambucina)
Elder-flowered Orchid (Dactylorhiza sambucina)
Military Orchid (Orchis militaris)
Early Purple Orchid (Orchis mascula)
Elder-flowered Orchid (Dactylorhiza sambucina)
Elder-flowered Orchid (Dactylorhiza sambucina)
Poet’s Daffodil (Narcissus poeticus)

In the days after, because of frequent visits of other birdwatchers and photographers, the situation became almost unsustainable for the stressed bird, so, luckily, the rangers of the area decided to move the Capercaillie to a secret locality, far from trails and people.

Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)
Capercaillie (Tetrao urogallus)

Luca Boscain

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