From the picture above you can see that I was birding north of the border yesterday in Scotland, and along the Solway coast at Caerlaverock NNR to be precise. I had dropped Gail off at a Christmas cake decorating day in north Cumbria and as I wasn't due to pick her up for a few hours I decided to pop north of the border to do some birding.
The weather was quite kind to me considering what it had been like driving up and I had three oktas cloud cover with a 15 mph southwesterly wind.
I didn't see a huge variety of species but it was just nice to be out birding in a different part of the world and seeing Barnacle Geese, which have got to be one of the best looking geese anywhere. As I stated above I headed to Caerlaverock NNR, not the duck brothel a little further up the estuary, and I had a walk along the board walk through the reedbed near Holland's Farm and had a look across the saltmarshes and out on to the estuary.
I didn't have a huge variety of species, but what the day lacked in variety it made up in terms of numbers. Barnacle Geese were certainly the feature of the day and in total I had 1,180; some in roadside fields driving to the site and the majority out on the saltmarsh as the tide ran in.
I didn't have much in the reedbed other than a calling Water Rail, thirteen Skylarks over and four Reed Buntings. I had a look from the hide at the eastern end of the reedbed, but this was pretty useless and the picture below shows why; not the best of views from a hide!
Not the best views from a hide!
I also met a couple walking their dogs on the boardwalk and they had three dogs; one on a lead and two Spaniels off the lead and they were continually crashing through the reeds. It's a fecking NNR for heaven's sake!
The board walk
Out on the saltmarsh were a number of waders and wildfowl including 363 Lapwings, 96 Shelducks, 40 Wigeon, 600 Golden Plovers and 75 Curlews. Suddenly everything got up and a female Hen Harrier sailed in to view giving stonking views. Rather than dive for camera I decided just to enjoy the spectacle and watch her float past; brilliant!
Views across the reserve
I then headed to another site further east on the reserve where there was an impressive number of waders roosting including a thousand Lapwings and 3,700 Oystercatchers. No raptors here but a Raven flew over that stirred things up a bit. Soon enough it was time to pack up and head back south to pick Gail up.
Gail's decorated Christmas cake
I should have been ringing at my feeding station with Huw this morning but a sleepless night after a bout of bad heartburn meant I had to call it off, but I did get there later in the morning to feed. Tree Sparrows numbered 40, with an increase of Yellowhammers to eight, and a a flock of thirteen 'honking' Whooper Swans over rounded off my quick visit.