Trip Reports ______________________________________________________



Northumberland & Dumfries & Galloway 2017

...with Mark Finn

October 9th - 15th

This was our first tour for several years to Northumberland and the Scottish region of Dumfries and Galloway. The weather played a major part with poor wind directions for migrants and heavy rain showers along the western coasts of Scotland. Despite this interesting species noted in the Northumberland area included Cackling Goose, Glaucous Gull, Long-tailed Skua, Little Stint and a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope. In Dumfries and Galloway we were treated to huge flocks of recently arrived Barnacle Geese along the Solway Firth.

Our next visit is scheduled for 2019.

October 9th: Edinburgh, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Spittal Point, The Hirsel, Cocklawburn Dunes, Chatton.

Weather: Sunny with light NW winds 16 C.

The group gathered in Edinburgh and we headed south along the A1 to the border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Our first stop was Spittal Point at the mouth of the River Tweed. A range of gulls were present plus the commoner waders including Eurasian Oystercatcher and Eurasian Curlew. Offshore good numbers of Great Cormorant and Common Eider. We headed inland towards Coldstream on the border between England and Scotland, and the former home and estate of Alec Douglas-Hume. The large lake attracted Little Grebe, Mallard, Eurasian Teal and Common Moorhen. A walk around the estate produced many calling birds notably Eurasian Nuthatch which is very localised within Scotland. Our final birding spot was Cocklawburn Dunes where the sea attracted Red-throated Divers, Common Eiders and the adjacent scrub Common Stonechats. Before long was time to head towards Chatton our base for the next three nights.

October 10th: Holy Island, Goswick Golf Club, Budle Bay, Monk Pools.

Weather: Cloudy with SW winds 15 C.

After breakfast we headed towards Holy Island which is reached by crossing a causeway. On arrival on the island the first bird was a daytime hunting Barn Owl. Holy Island has a variety of habitats ranging from gardens to extensive areas of shore and water. Our first stop near the church allowed us views over the water and adjacent sand bars. This was productive for Pale-bellied Brent Geese, Common Eider, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Ruddy Turnstone, Grey and European Golden Plovers, Ringed Plover and Common Redshank. Various gull species were also noted before a walk towards the castle was made. En route a stop at a freshwater pool produced Eurasian Teal and Northern Lapwings in good numbers. The path towards the castle only produced a few Eurasian Linnets. A walk down the Crooked Lonnen added migrants including Brambling and Redwing. After lunch we visited Goswick Golf Club where we watched a very confiding juvenile Long-tailed Skua. Next on the agenda was the bird-rich habitats of Budle Bay. This proved to be excellent with thousands of geese present including Pink-footed, Greylag, Barnacle and rarer species in the form of Cackling and Snow. Also present were huge numbers of Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal, Northern Shoveler, Common Shelduck and the commoner waders. The last stop was at Monks Pool which attracted a single Ruff, Little Stints, Pied Avocet and Common Snipe. A great days birding in Northumberland.

October 11th: Druridge Bay, Druridge Country Park, Hauxley, Bamburgh.

Weather: Rather mixed with showers and sunny spells. SW winds 14 C.

This morning we headed south towards the Druridge Bay complex of reserves which were formed as a result of coal mining activities. Our first stop at Druridge Bay produced great views of a Garden Warbler feeding on elderberry fruits. Further along the track we entered a hide overlooking a part of the reserve where the commoner ducks were widespread along with a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope. The fields attracted a small number of Pink-footed Geese. Next was the extensive and varied habitats of Druridge Country Park. The water sports lake had Little Grebe, Tufted Duck and Great Cormorant. By the visitor centre we encountered three late Barn Swallows, Coal and Great Tits and Common Chaffinch. A walk towards the beach allowed us an elevated view into the North Sea with sightings of Common Eider, Common Scoter and Razorbill. Hauxley is further north and a reserve of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust. Feeders around the car park attracted Tree Sparrows and three species of tits. A walk around the reserve trails and hides added Canada and Greylag Geese, Gadwall, Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal and Common Moorhens, offshore a few Northern Gannets were observed plunge-diving for fish. We ended the day at Bamburgh where similar birds to yesterday were observed.

October 12th: Chatton, Caerlaverock, Castle Douglas.

Weather: Sunny spells with occasional showers. SW winds 14 C.

We checked out at Chatton and made the journey west towards the Scottish area of Dumfries and Galloway. Our travels took us through farmland and high moorland dotted with swollen rivers after heavy overnight rains. A few birds en route included Little Egret, Common Raven and Eurasian Jay. At lunchtime we arrived at Caerlaverock a reserve of the WWT. Around the car park the usual garden birds were present plus Tree Sparrow. The first hide allowed us great views of Eurasian Teal, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Common Redshank and the Icelandic race of Black-tailed Godwit. We made a timely visit to the Peter Scott hide, as one of the wardens was feeding Whooper and Mute Swans who were joined by Canada Geese, Mallard and Tufted Duck. A walk down The Avenue with stops at two hides added a flocks of Barnacle Geese including a pure white bird and a hybrid crossed with a Snow Goose. On the return walk a diversion added Great, Coal and Blue Tits plus Little Grebe and Gadwall in the narrow channel of water. We left at 1630 for the journey to Castle Douglas our base for three nights.

October 13th: Castle Douglas, Loch Ryan, Corsewall Point, Newton Stewart, Wigtown Bay, Wood of Cree.

Weather: Cloudy with afternoon rain on a SSW wind 16 C.

After breakfast we headed west towards the town and port of Stranraer. On arrival a scan of Loch Ryan produced sightings of Great Crested Grebe, Common Eider, Red-breasted Merganser and roosting Eurasian Curlew, Ringed Plover and Ruddy Turnstone. Next on the tour was Corsewall Point which juts out into the Irish Sea and attracts seabirds in the right wind conditions. Today a SSW wind was blowing and it allowed us close views of Red-throated Divers, Northern Gannets, Common Guillemot and Razorbills. We then headed back to Stranraer and onto the market town of Newton Stewart a centre for the livestock industry. The River Cree held a few gulls, Mallard and a calling Common Kingfisher. A little further south a visit to Wigtown Bay produced little of note apart from a flock of Eurasian Wigeon. The weather started to close in with heavy rains and poor viewing conditions. A short visit to Wood of Cree produced common woodland birds and Eurasian Jays. The weather worsened so we called it a day and headed back to Castle Douglas.

October 14th: Ken Dee Marshes, Castle Douglas, Mersehead.

Final species total: 101.

Weather: Rain showers on a SW wind 16 C.

Our last full days birding in Dumfries and Galloway started with a visit to the Ken Dee Marshes. En route we observed several Red Kites which were reintroduced in 2001 and are now thriving. From the car park at Ken Dee the group walked through the mature woodlands bordered by scrub and marshland a tremendous habitat to bird. Along the track mixed flocks comprised of Great, Blue and Coal Tits, Goldcrest, Eurasian Treecreeper and Eurasian Nuthatch. We particularly enjoyed views of a flock of Lesser Redpolls feeding on silver birch trees. On arriving at the hide several Great Cormorant, Eurasian Teal and Common Moorhen whilst the forest attracted Long-tailed Tits, Song Thrush, migratory Redwing and a few Eurasian Bullfinches. The weather worsened as we headed back to Castle Douglas for lunch where the loch had Mute Swan, Tufted Duck and a Kingfisher. In the afternoon a visit to the RSPB Reserve of Mersehead an area of farmland, woods and lagoons. In and around the farm buildings a flock of Linnets and a pair of European Greenfinches. At the first hide an impressive number of ducks which included Northern Pintail. We ended the day watching a flock of Barnacle Geese.

October 15th: Castle Douglas, Dumfries, Edinburgh.

Weather: Sunny with occasional showers on a SW wind 14 C.

We checked out and started the journey back to Edinburgh, travelling via Dumfries and the sparsely inhabited area of the borders region. A short stop on the river in Dumfries had similar birds to a few days ago. The journey through the borders was fairly uneventful with few sightings of birds along the way. We arrived into the centre of Edinburgh at mid-day where the tour concluded.

For details of the full species list or to request further information about the next time we will be offering this trip. Contact us at

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