Trip reports

Caerlaverock Coach Outing

Caerlaverock Coach Outing
Rosie Filipiak

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Our Group's first coach outing went to Caerlaverock on the 16th March 1975. Brian Morrell, the Reserve Manager, had put out a fascinating exhibition to celebrate our anniversary visit showing how Caerlaverock has changed from being a pretty basic reserve to one that offers a large range of bird-watching opportunities.

We had a pleasant drive towards Dumfries, enjoying drifts of snowdrops and fields of spring lambs. A sparrowhawk shot across the coach making those at the front gasp, and shortly before reaching our destination a red kite was spotted, as well as common, herring and lesser black-backed gull, and magpie.
Arriving at the Centre we were "welcomed" firstly by a flock of pink-footed geese and then one of barnacle geese, some of the c5000 barnacles on the Reserve that day.

The ponds and wetlands promised to give us a good range of ducks, and we saw shelduck, mallard, gadwall, pintail, shoveler, wigeon, teal, tufted and, star bird, a green-winged teal. Waders were seen well from all the hides, with moorhen, oystercatcher, redshank and black-tailed godwit prominent. We watched the exuberant display flights of lapwing, while, at the other end of the scale, snipe blended perfectly with the reeds. From Avenue Hide we watched a flock of at least 200 golden plover rise from the ground, wheeling and swirling showing silver then gold, before settling again, then repeating these manoeuvres a minute later. We noted that some were already showing the black of breeding plumage.
The 2pm swan feed attracted attention, and gave close views of the whooper and mute swans, and other inhabitants of the pond chasing an easy meal, but sadly the reported scaup wasn't showing. Three little egrets were seen during the day, as well as grey heron, little grebe, black-headed gull, and our two raptors, a common buzzard and a kestrel.

The tree-lined lanes produced a variety of birds: goldcrest, tree creeper, wren, robin, dunnock, pied wagtail, great and blue tit, chaffinch, goldfinch, greenfinch and reed bunting, and the vivid yellow on the male yellowhammers was stunning. Appropriately, skylark was seen and heard singing above the hide housing the information board explaining that "Caerlaverock" means "castle or fort of the larks". House sparrows were about in the garden, but only one tree sparrow was seen near the Peter Scott Trail feeders, and when this was reported the Staff were delighted as these birds hadn't been around for a while. Pheasant, woodpigeon, collared dove, song thrush, blackbird, jackdaw, rook, carrion crow and starling added to our day's sightings, along with 5 roe deer.

The Group met up at the Centre to celebrate our 40th Anniversary, Brian congratulated us on our "birthday", and then everyone settled down to enjoy a jolly good afternoon tea. Many thanks to Jacky, Rosie and Sam for the great job they did coordinating the groups.

Val Donaldson