Trip report - south west Scotland: Dumfries and Galloway

19th January 2016
Dates: 15th to 18th January 2016

Destination: South west Scotland

Purpose of trip:

The purpose of my trip was to visit the Solway Firth coast of Dumfries and Galloway and various other sites in Dumfries and Galloway.

Primary target areas:

The primary target areas for wildlife watching were:

Solway Firth sites including Caerlaverock WWT reserve and Mersehead RSPB reserve

Rhins of Galloway (north): Loch Ryan and Wig Bay

Rhins of Galloway (south): West Freugh

Ken-Dee Marshes RSPB reserve

Getting there and getting around:

I travelled up to Carlisle by Virgin trains on 15th January 2016 and returned on 18th January 2016 having obtained an extremely good value advance return ticket for £33.

In Carlisle, I hired a car for the whole trip from Hertz for £43.96 reduced by 10% cashback to £39.56.

I stayed in the Travelodge in Dumfries and by booking well in advance my 3 nights accommodation only cost £90 reduced by 7% cashback to £83.70.


The weather during my trip was the expected and typical mix although it did have an impact on my planned itinerary.

The remainder of my arrival day on 15th January 2016 was sunny, 16th January started cloudy and progressed through the day from drizzle to rain to heavy snow, 17th January 2016 started sunny and dry but with plenty of lying snow and progressed through the day to cloud and more heavy snow and the morning of my final day on 18th January 2016 started foggy and eventually cloudy and with a significant thaw of lying snow.

Temperatures during my trip were usually at or below 0°C to 2°C with a maximum of only 4°C on 15th January 2016.

The low temperatures and heavy snowfall during my trip had a significant impact on birding opportunities. Compared with my visits to the Caerlaverock WWT reserve and Mersehead RSPB reserve in January 2015, there were much lower numbers of Barnacle Geese and other wildfowl to be seen on the grazing fields and marshes due to the ground and water sources being frozen. Furthermore, the heavy snowfall prevented my planned trip to the Ken-Dee Marshes RSPB reserve due to the conditions on the minor roads. This was disappointing but nonetheless I still enjoyed my short trip.


During my short trip, I was able to record 90 bird species (a reasonable total for such a short trip) and 2 mammal species.

Trip list - south west Scotland

With regard to the birds, I was able to add 19 species to my 2016 list and 4 species to my Scotland list (Little Egret, Ring-necked Duck, Water Rail and Black Redstart).

The most notable sightings were a male Green-winged Teal and a male Ring-necked Duck at Caerlaverock WWT reserve, both scarce north American visitors to the UK.

Apart from the Green-winged Teal and Ring-necked Duck, the highlights were the large numbers of Barnacle Geese, ducks and waders on the Solway Firth and the large numbers of sea duck on Loch Ryan.

The following summarises the notable wildlife species seen on my trip, many of the birds being first records for 2016.

Solway Firth (Mersehead-Southerness-Carsethorn-Caerlaverock-Powfoot-Newbie): Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck, Barnacle Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Whooper Swan, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler, Pintail, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander, Little Egret, Heron, Water Rail, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe, Curlew, Oystercatcher, Knot, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Common Redshank, Turnstone, Lapwing, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Stonechat, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, Brambling, Linnet, Grey Wagtail, Roe Deer

Loch Ryan and Wig Bay: Whooper Swan, Mute Swan, Great Northern Diver, Black-throated Diver, Black Guillemot, Common Guillemot, Slavonian Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Long-tailed Duck, Scaup, Common Scoter, Goldeneye, Eider, Red-breasted Merganser, Shelduck, Mallard, Wigeon, Pintail, Black Guillemot, Heron, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Common Redshank, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Cormorant, Shag, Black Redstart

West Freugh: Greenland White-fronted Goose, Pink-footed Goose, Curlew, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Hooded Crow, Roe Deer

Castle Douglas: Red Kite, Common Buzzard, Kestrel

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