Trip reports

Winter Weekend to Solway Firth 11th to 13th Feb 2012

Winter Weekend to Solway Firth 11th to 13th Feb 2012
Ellengowan Hotel Creetown Robert Trips Organiser

Monday, 13 February 2012

We left at 7.00am bound for breakfast at Tebay. Entered Scotland nr Gretna first bird seen was the first of at least 60 Buzzards. First birding stop a misty Powfoot with the tide almost fully in. It was awash with birds of all sizes from Wren to Grey Heron & Ringed Plover to Curlew, also lots of House Sparrows, Yellow Hammers, Oystercatchers & other waders & ducks inc. Red Breasted Mergansers & Scaup. It was a good start to what would be perhaps the best ever Solway weekend. So on to Carsthorne for lunch via Loch Arthur, here we saw Tree Creeper, Coot, Golden Eye and the first of many Mute Swans. Also Red Squirrel except it wasn't Red, but more of a Fawn colour with a White tail. On reaching Carsthorne the tide was fully in so no birds or view because of the mist, so just lunch and on to Southerness Point with the tide still in, but for the first time in years we saw Purple Sandpiper also we saw Turnstone & Oystercatcher, there was also a small flock of Starlings and Blue & Coal Tit and Siskin in the car park. We then travelled on to Loch Ken not seeing much, except for more Buzzards Collared Doves (we saw lots of these on our travels) also Pinkfeet Geese, Kestrels and Wood Pigeons. Driving up the side of Loch Ken there were lots of Geese mainly Canada and Greylags, but eventually we saw about 80 Greenland White fronts. When we got to the RSPB car park at Ken Dee Marshes the light was going so we headed back to the main road & The Ellenagowan Hotel at Creetown. On our way our bus saw Fieldfare, Redwing, a Finch flock mostly Greenfinch and Chaffinch and 10 Red Kites roosting in the trees.

Day 2 started with skeins of Pinkfeet (2500+) & Mistle Thrush at Creetown. Then off to Wigtown here we saw more Mute Swans, lots of wild fowl inc. Mallard, widgeon, Pintail, the only Pochard of the trip, Little Grebe, Bullfinch, Rock Pipit, Song thrush and Pied Wagtail. We then travelled to Luce Bay along a narrow B road not seeing much (still misty) when David H in the first bus stopped by some conifers and said Crossbills (another Solway first) sure enough there they were near the top of the trees. Also seen here were Goldcrest, Coal Tit, & Merlin & Roe Deer. At Luce Bay not much was seen (the tide was in) so on to Stairhaven & Lunch, misty with tide full in, but again lots of birds, with Shags, Herring Gulls, Scaup & Red Throated Diver on the sea with Rock & Meadow Pipits, Redshank, & Oystercatchers on or near the beach & just before we left the only Common Scoter of the trip. We then made our way to Cairn Ryan, with improving visibility & a flat sea birds were easier to see, first seen were some very close views of Eider& Mergansers, next 6/8 Black Guillemots with a solitary ordinary Guillemot, lots of Gulls including Lesser & Great Black backs, more Red Throated Divers & 6 Slavonian Grebes. We then drove down the loch side towards Stranraer looking for the rare Gulls that had been reported. We saw lots of Scaup, more Golden Eyes then finally a large flock of mainly Herring & Common Gulls, but after diligent searching an Iceland Gull was located (a lifer for many of the party). Then on to the Wig on the other side of Loch Ryan as we approached the turn a Barn Owl flew up and perched by the road & then it took off and flew down the road in front of the leading bus for over 100 yards, what a glorious sight!!!! Then it perched on the other side of the road. At the Wig we saw a flock of Skylarks a single Grey Plover some Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Lapwing, and on the Loch nr the Boatyard several Long tailed Ducks. We then left for West Frew for the Hen Harrier roost, but did we see them NO!! (Just some more Buzzards & some Linnets). After that, back to Ellenagowan for dinner.

Day 3 weather now cloudy bright. We journeyed home via the moors, Gatehouse of Fleet, Loch Ken and RSPB Mearshead. On the moors few birds, but good views. Next stop Gatehouse of Fleet here we saw Dipper, Grey Wagtail and Song Thrush. On to Lock ken only thing of note here was a Stoat in winter dress (ermine). On to Mearshead lots of small birds on the feeders mostly finches, but a Tree Sparrow was seen. At the hides Lots of Barnacle Geese, plenty wildfowl inc. Gadwall & Pintail also lots of waders mainly Lapwing, but Snipe & Ruff were seen. Also seen at Mearshead was Peregrine. This was to be our last stop, but we had herd that there was a Red Breasted Goose nr Southerness so we went, but did not find it (It had moved to a Golf Course nearby). Finally Tebay for dinner and home most were home by 10.00pm after probably one of the best Solway's ever.

Brenda & Robert Field Trip organisers