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 (http://www.wwt.org.uk/gallery/117/caerlaverock.html), 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: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leucism), 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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