What a truly fantastic and memorable Durham Bird Club trip to Dumfries and Galloway. We started the day of by heading to the Golden Eagle site for an hour. There was nothing much for the first 45minutes apart from a few Ravens sky dancing which where a pleasure to see. Then the word went out quickly and we got out sights on a Golden Eagle with the back end of its body towards us as it headed away from us and down the valley and eventually vanished. Most people on the trip saw the bird and we waited a while to see if it would come back up but sadly it didn’t show. A short while later a cry came of MALE HEN HARRIER! Everyone came over straight away to have a look and see this fantastic bird, it flew across the road and gave fantastic views as it flew around a bit before disappearing. We also saw a few Buzzards in the distance whilst waiting to see the Golden Eagle. A few of the group saw a Goshawk briefly but I missed that sadly.
From here we then headed onto Caerlaverock WWT for the remained of the day. The bus pulled up and then like a bullet out of a gun BANG! I was in the visitor centre paying my entrance fee and I was in. Straight to the Whooper Hide and I saw the American Wigeon nearly straight away. It was really close then got gradually distant but I had fantastic views of the attractive rare American duck. From here myself and a few others headed of the Tower hide to see what we could see. We arrived and where told there was a Peregrine sitting on the post near the Barnacle Geese and we quickly picked the Peregrine up. There where quite a few Barnacle Geese behind the Peregrine in the fields as well as a Common Buzzard sitting on a post not far of the Peregrine for good size comparison. We then scoped around and someone called out another Peregrine that was a long way of and it was sitting on a very large log in the water but it was clear from the overall appearance it was a Peregrine. Other birds scoped from the hide included a few Grey Plover, and Shelduck is all that I could remember.
I thought I would look around the other side of the hide for a while when a cry went up MERLIN! I ran over as quickly as I could and everyone in the hide was over to the one side looking either at or for the bird. I quickly got onto it thanks to the Chairman letting me look though his scope. I then looked though Derek Charlton’s (The Finch) scope and saw it again. I then quickly grabbed my scope and got nearly straight on it. It took of did a little bit of hunting and then flew towards us and landed even closer on the fence post! I took a few terrible pictures then simply watched and enjoyed the bird for the few minutes it sat. It flew and cam right past the hide and I got a good view of the bird in flight it then landed a little bit more distant where I watched it again and found it but it was not quite a way off and not as close as before. I then headed of with the rest of the group as they where leaving, I felt strange leaving when it was still in view but it was distant when I left and it had its back to me.
From here I headed to the other hide (don’t know the name) and I saw all the regular stuff you would expect with Whooper Swans, 1 Snipe, Teal, and Wigeon. From then on I just wandered around a bit and found a Water Rail and alerted the others and they saw it as well. I went back to look at the American Wigeon but it was sitting asleep and then it sat down so I left it be.
All in all a fantastic club trip out and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
British List updates
233 – American Wigeon (235 All time Life List)
Year List updates
119 – Lesser Black-backed Gull
120 – Grey Wagtail
121 – Golden Eagle
122 – American Wigeon
123 – Peregrine
124 – Grey Plover
125 – Merlin
126 – Water Rail
(Whooper Swan - Andrew Kinghorn)
(Merlin on post - Andrew Kinghorn)
(American Wigeon - Andrew Kinghorn)