Sunday, January 13, 2008

Dumfries & Galloway - Bird Club Trip

We got up to Dumfries and Galloway late on Friday afternoon, just before sunset, but with sufficient time to pop into the WWT at Caerlaverock (, to see the extensive feeding flock of Barnacle Geese. This area accommodates the entire Svalbard breeding population, some 13,500-14,000 geese.

While sat in the southern-most tower we spotted a white coloured goose amongst the flock. I got over-excited imagining it might be a Snow Goose, but Helen correctly pointed out that it lacked black wing tips. The WWT warden at the visitor centre advised us that it is in fact a leucistic Barnacle Goose, (see:, apparently one of the two or three in the whole population. You can see the bird here, though the photograph was taken in failing light and at a notable distance:

here with it's head raised:

and here, head-down, amongst the feeding flock once we'd got just a little closer:

As we walked back towards the centre past one of the screened fields, something spooked the flock feeding in that particular field. The sound of 2,000 - 3,000 geese taking off is an amazing experience. Even more amazing they flew towards us, as you can see from these two photos, with a backdrop of the sky, lit-up by a setting sun. I am particularly pleased with these photos, they wont win any competitions but I think they are beautiful and give an impression of the scale of what we witnessed close-up:

and here a broader picture (have a closer look by clicking on the picture):

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