Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dumfries and Galloway - Bird Club Trip - Sunday

On Sunday the weather was forecast to be atrocious, which it mostly was! Our first destination, Caerlaverock WWT reserve (http://www.wwt.org.uk/gallery/117/caerlaverock.html), didn't actually open until 10am, so we headed out to scout the surrounding fields and the flocks of geese feeding there. Our first encounter however was with a couple of cattle wandering down the road and some patient local police officers, escorting them back into their field :)

En route to the reserve we were overflown by both Pink-footed and Greylag geese but we must have seen at least five thousand Barnacle Geese. In the last fields before the reserve the expert birders spotted a Light-bellied Brent Goose, Branta Bernicla Hrota, our fourth and final 'tick' of the weekend. One of the birders on the weekend already has around 375 birds and this one was a tick for him too, and he was very excited! The wind was blowing fiercely and it was a trouble to get the bird in the scope but once spotted it really was quite distinctive from the flock of Barnacles it was within. It was far too distant to take a useable photograph though.

After this excitement, we headed into the reserve. One thing I noticed quite quickly was the very large numbers of Yellowhammer, with concentrations much greater than I've seen in England. This male was showing adult/summer plumage:















At 11am the warden feeds the swans, geese, ducks and pigeons, which is quite a sight. As he whistles the birds stop jostling and fighting and move as one to where he appears. It's a good opportunity to take some photographs, even in half-light, as this Whooper Swan illustrates:














Also I've wanted a good plumage shot of a (Eurasian) Wigeon drake for some time (click to see it better):














The rain came in as it approached lunchtime, and although everyone was looking for the Red-breasted Goose somewhere in the Barnacle flock, it was nowhere to be seen, so we decided to head home, having thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone and the weekend itself. We'll definitely be heading back to Dumfries and Galloway, hopefully with better weather next time!

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