Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Midweek Update ~ Scotland

We're over halfway through our week here in south-west Scotland and last night the snow arrived, albeit at slightly higher levels.

View across the Solway Firth from Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve
On Monday we drove out to Stranraer and Port Patrick in the hope of some decent sea watching, unfortunately with light winds this proved disappointing. On route we stopped off at Loch Ryan and here single Slavonian Grebe and Eider, plus small groups of Teal and Wigeon. Two Little Egrets were an interesting sighting with not that many to the area in general. Gannet, Black Guillemot, Shag, Rock Pipit, Rock Dove, Stonechat, Grey Wagtail, Buzzard, Kestrel and Peregrine were the best of note at Corsewell but the excellent lunch in the Corsewell Lighthouse Hotel more than made up for the birding!

View from Corsewell Lighthouse Hotel!
We've visited a number of reserves throughout the local area too over the last few days which have included the Caerlavarock National Nature Reserve and the RSPB sites at Mersehead Nature Reserve and today Ken-Dee Marshes, the latter to catch up with Greenland White-fronted Geese, which regularly winter here.

Stonechat ~ NNR Caerlaverock
We took the 3 mile return walk, habitat includes woodland, grassland and marsh with a single hide and viewing platform. After a good search of the surrounding fields we managed thirteen White-fronted Geese in total, plus eleven Meadow PipitRed Squirrel and a selection of woodland species pictured below! Loch Ken itself proved pretty quiet overall with the only species of note 30+ Eurasian Teal and a brace of Heron. The area is also well know as the 'Galloway Kite Trail', which was set up following the successful re-introduction of Red Kites into Galloway after an absence of 130 years. We managed at least eight today, along with three Buzzard and two Raven.

Red Squirrel
After Ken-Dee reserve we stopped off in the picturesque village of New Galloway for coffee and cake. We parked next to the bridge along the high street which passes over Mill Burn, a fast running stream and while having a quick look over Dee suddenly spotted movement. A Dipper, which we watched briefly but unfortunately by the time I returned with the camera there was no further sign.

The instant before this Willow Tit was clobbered by a Coal Tit!
On Tuesday we visited Mersehead Nature Reserve and took the 2.5 mile coastal trail. Before setting off coffee in the centre, which has great views of the bird feeders and the reserve beyond. Here the highlight was a Weasel, which happily scurried around right in front of the window on several occasions. There are two hides and the track that leads down to the Bruaich Hide held Yellowhammer, Redwing, Fieldfare and Reed Bunting in the hedgerows. From the hide huge flocks of the Svalbard Barnacle Geese population, 30+ Pintail and good numbers of Wigeon and Teal. The tide flows out for miles here and so the walk along the beach area was pretty quiet, save for a small flock of Dunlin, three Ringed Plover within. Sleet started to fall as we headed back to the centre but the best was saved until last, a Merlin, perched on a post offering great scope views was well worth getting soaked for!


Great Spotted Woodpecker

Coal Tit
Willow Tit ~ Unscathed!