Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Super south west Scotland

The Safari and Wifey drove north beyond Carlisle and once we'd snuck over the border into Scotland without being noticed we took a sharp left and headed into a superb part of Scotland we've never really been to before only shooting through at breakneck speed to catch the ferry to Northern Ireland at Stranraer.
After about another half an hour we turned left again and aimed for the coast. Our cottage for the week was so close to the firth that had we driven 10 more yards our hats would have floated off!
The first morning the Barnacle Geese were superb flying past our window, there were thousands of them.
They went to the right so we had a wander along the beach to see if we could relocate them - didn't have to go far.
They were spread all across the mudflats. What a beautiful sight and sound. There was a small flock of Grey Lag Geese out on the mud too which in this part of the world could well have been 'proper' wild birds from Iceland. There was a bit of passage going on too with Meadow Pipits, a few Siskins and Redwings going over.
We had a quick pop into the nearby RSPB reserve for a bit of a reccy and haven't seen so many Linnets and Yellowhammers in one place for years. all too quick for our lens and we weren't able to stay long enough to see the male Hen Harrier that had been reported almost daily during the previous week.
The reason we were only had a time for a quick reccy was we were off to the 'competition' where BBC2's Autumnwatch will be beamed from next week. We arrived with an hour to spare before their Whooper Swan afternoon feed although only two had arrived from Iceland and the local breeding pair of Mute Swans were still seeing off all-comers on their lake. The hide offers really good close views of all the regular species of waterfowl.
The following morning we were out on the beach again and this time it was waders on the move amongst the very many Oystercatchers and several Curlews, there was a sizable flock of Turnstones new in and a few Bar Tailed Godwits.
Another day out followed with a trip inland through the southern part of The Galloway Forest Park
We saw the forestry areas sneaking as 'weeds' up the hillsides - interesting in that this might change Scotland's upland ecology substantially in the coming decades.
If the clearfell areas (outlined) are to be replanted some native broadleaves around the perimeter of any new forestry planting would be a beneficial addition. Other areas are totally 'sheep-wrecked' with barely a tree in sight!
Any tree planting has to be protected from deer and these bad-boys.
Next stop was a Red Kite feeding station. Where we saw lots and lots and lots of Red Kites (196).
Just look how many there are and this is nowhere near all of them! There's more in the pic than in the whole country 25 years or so ago when we used to go to mid Wales to see them.
Real beauties they are and only a danger to already dead stuff and worms so why they are still illegally persecuted by the landed guardians of the countryside. Having said that we very nearly hit one which was feeding on roadkill Pheasant round a tight bend.
We spent a superb hour or more in lovely warm sunshine and gave up snapping away to properly enjoy the spectacle.
A bit of culture followed with a lazy wander round the pretty village of Gatehouse of Fleet.
More culture occurred in the form of the 'Artists' town of Kirkcudbright (pronounced Ker-coo-bree for Sassenachs).
The town gives its name to the local style of dry stone walls - know as dry stane dykes in these parts. The normal way of building a dry stone wall is to have two faces with a rubble infill, these are unique (we think)  in that they are only one stone thick and there are obvious gaps that can be seen through.
Allegedly the gaps make the sheep think the wall will fall as it looks insecure so don't try to climb them - now that's what you call a cunning plan!
Where to next? More from sunny Scotland tomorrow.
In the meantime let us know whose not knocking the walls over in your outback.

1 comment:

cliff said...

Brought back some memories reading that Dave. Jane & I visited that part of Scotland for a short break back in Feb 2009. We were further west than you, nearly as far west as you can go, at Luce bay near the Mull of Galloway. Like you we visited Caerlaverock & the Red Kite feeding station at Bellymack Farm, I've since been back to the latter with Philip Tomkinson, an ace day out.
Strange there were only 2 Whoopers at Caerlaverock, there were more than that seen at the mere yesterday.
You got a lot closer to the Barnacle Geese than we did, bobby dazzlers as geese go.
Looks like you did a lot more exploring than Jane & I managed, although we were only there a few days, cutting short our break by a day due to subzero temperatures - I was in big trouble for booking a log cabin with inadequate heating in Scotland in Feb :-) :-) :-)