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Advice on Caerlaverock, Mersehead and barnacle geese generally (1 Viewer)


New member
Hello all,

I’ve got the opportunity to spend a day on the north Solway coast in January, as a long day-trip by car from Glasgow, and I could use some advice in making the best of it.

I love wildfowl of all kinds but my main priority for the day is the barnacle geese. How would you plan your ideal day of goosewatching in the area?

Should I concentrate on RSPB Mersehead, WWT Caerlaverock, try to visit both, or head somewhere else?

Will it be worth the very early start to be there for first light, or staying for last light? And if so, where is the best spot outside of the two reserves, which I assume will be closed at those times?

How do tides affect the birds and when are the optimum times (in relation to tides or light) to be on the lookout for large-scale flights?

What will be the best source of intelligence about locations nearer the time? For example, is there someone local who tweets about what’s going on?

Finally, if the weather forecast is dreadful – by which I mean unremitting rain or heavy fog – is there any point making the trip or should I hole up in a Glasgow pub instead?! I’ll find the driving itself quite tiring in those conditions so it would be useful to know whether forecasts for the area are generally reliable.

Thank you so much for any and all advice. I have been hankering after a chance to make this trip for years, so want to make the most of it.

Andrew Whitehouse

Professor of Listening
Staff member
Welcome to BirdForum. One of my best memories of Caerlaverock is being in a hide before dawn and hearing several thousand Barnacle Geese flying in from their roost. That's certainly a good reason to be there very early in the morning.


Staff member
At WWT Caerlaverock the Barnacles tend to stay quite close to the reserve and can be seen from the tower hides. They will move about from field to field during the day, so you do get the spectacle of large numbers of geese in the air during the day. I have stayed at Caerlaverock several times, they have accommodation on site, and you don't tend to get the "whole population" flights, they have broken up into sub groups before reaching land. Still huge numbers but not much different from the during the day relocations. Caerlaverock is not like other WWT reserves with big fences, (there in no duck zoo to protect), one can just walk in out of hours.

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