The capercaillie – one of the UK’s rarest birds – may be on the verge of a recovery.

The RSPB believes last year’s breeding season for the birds was the best for 15 years and says the population may even be expanding in some areas.

There are currently only 1,000 breeding pairs of capercaillie in the UK, all of them in Scotland, compared with more than 20,000 pairs 30 years ago.

The RSPB said the figures showed work to save the species was paying off.

With the capercaillie nearing extinction in Britain, there has been a lot of work done to improve habitats and remove deer fencing, with which the low-flying, turkey-sized birds collide.

The wildlife charity said there were no grounds for complacency, however, as the capercaillie remained on the endangered list.