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Dumfries & Galloway:21st-24th February (1 Viewer)

Sandra (Taylor)

Well-known member
Sorry - just posted this on the D&G site but think it probably should be here. This is a report my son has just sent me after a holiday he's just had with his Dad - staying near Beeswing. I'm sure anyone who likes the area will find something to interest them.


Dumfries & Galloway February 2011

Sunday 20th
Good, uneventful, food free journey straight up from home to WWT Caelaverock. Greeting us at the carpark was a large flock of Chaffinch & Greenfinch on the feeders, upon closer inspection a solitary male Brambling was added to our list. Into the visitor centre for soup & coffee to be told that there is going to be a VERY high tide in 90 minutes. On to the reserve the first birds seen are a big flock of Yellowhammer & House Sparrows at the T-junction. Down to the Saltcot observatory for the high tide. The biggest surprise was the first, when I opened the window a Skylark was flying up singing. A Peregrine was sat on a post watching the huge flock of Knot which made the sky look as though it had static electricity. Four Roe Deer got marooned on a small & shrinking island before having to swim back to dry land. Next stop was the Peter Scott Hide for the Swan feed, 120 Whoopers, lots of Wigeon, numerous Teal, Mallard & Mute Swans. Last stop was the Folly Pond hide to see flocks & flocks of Barancle Geese (8000 in total on the reserve) in the fields, lots of Shoveler, Black-tailed Godwits & Shelduck. A few Redshank & pair of Snipe on the near shoreline of the scrape, in the distance a female Hen Harrier quartered the gorse-line.
Up the road to Southerness Lighthouse, very heavy seas & sky meant all we saw were Oystercatcher & Redshank on the nearby shore.

Monday 21st
Up at 7 for a full English and then were off up the West side of Loch Ken braving the wintery showers and all the way on to Carlae, more or less bird free apart from Graylag Geese in the fields and a Buzzard and Kestrel roadside. Next stop was the carpark at Clattershaw Loch (the visitor centre is closed in February), looking across the water the only bird in sight is a Goldeneye. Get out of the car to make a coffee, the floor & sky instantly looked like a biblical plague of Chaffinch coming from every bush and tree around, they seemed to be quite partial to ginger biscuits. Off to the Kite feed at Bellymack via Newton Stewart and Creetown, the estuary brown with muck off the mud-flats making it look like the Ganges. Arriving at The Kite feed for feeding time at 2 o’clock, 80 to 100 kites filled their bellies then went and sat in the nearby trees before seconds. Last stop of the day was RSPB Ken Dee Marshes, we walked out of the carpark and a mile down the track towards the hide I had a ‘OH NO, binoculars on the car roof moment’, I ran to get them then back to ‘Paps’. The binoculars were there but i haven’t run that far in my life before. Running is for people who can’t afford a bike, isn’t it? At the hide everything looked quiet, a bit of patience gave us Mute Swan, Graylag & Canada Geese, Tufled Duck Goldeneye & Teal. The feeders were full of Tits, Blue, Great & Coal but not a Finch in sight. Concentrating on the feeders a Red Squirrel arrived, a proper little Squirrel Nutkins all fluffed up and very, very red. Just before we left a Treecreeper was spotted at the bottom of one tree before spiralling its way up and off to another tree out of view. Last thing seem from the hide was a Nuthatch on the feeder. On the way back to the car a Sparrow Hawk flew past quickly at low level. What had started off as a wildlife free morning had become a busy afternoon.

Tuesday 22nd
Up at 7 again, this morning I took the binnies to the breakfast room to get a better view of the house feeders, large numbers of Siskin, Tree Sparrow and a few Blue, Great & Coal Tits. We then set off the 60 plus miles to Lock Ryan, 1st stop was the old jetty at Cairnryan, a really good start with 16+ Black Guillimots. We then went further North, this turned out to be a mistake as the Loch opens up to the Sea, the wind gets stronger and the birds went AWOL. Turned back round back past Cairnryan to the pull-off at the old railway line. Instantly the birds were back, small numbers of Scaup & Slavonian Grebe, larger amounts of Black-necked Divers (including a flock of 7). Scanning with the scope it was obvious large amounts of birds were between us and Stranraer so we moved in that direction. At the lay-by with the butty shop we added Turnstone, Dunlin & Rock Pipit to our list. Last stop was on the outskirts of the town where people feed the Swans. Large Numbers of Mute Swans came round our feet, only 30 yards out were rafts of Scaup and Pintail, further out were smaller numbers of Goldeneye and a few singleton slavs. Another really productive second half to the day just like yesterday (the moral must be stay in bed till dinner, trouble is that would mean missing the cooked breakfast). Nothing to note on our journey home.

Wednesday 23rd
Breakfast with the binnies again, as well as yesterdays birds we also had Pheasant, Collared Dove & Wood Pigeon on the floor with in minutes, but before we had finished eating this also included a dozen Yellowhammers and a solo Brambling. Today would be a quick visit to RSPB Mersehead and then back down the motorway. When we got to Mersehead it was raining just like a storm off the TV, five minutes in the car and it broke just long enough for us to risk getting out for a shortened stop. A quick march to the far hide gave us a Stoat running across the path, Barnacle Geese in the fields and Rooks building nests in the trees. Once in the hide plenty of Wigeon, Shelduck & Pintail on the water, some more scanning added a Dabchick to the list with the final entrant being a very noisy male ‘Gothic’ Pheasant.

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