A severe overnight frost was soon cleared by the sun leaving a bright and glorious, albeit cold, day.Visibility was excellent and we used the opportunity to visit the Clatteringshaws Loch area again to scan for Black Grouse. Clearly it was not meant to be but the magnificence of the area was brought out to the fullest extent by the wonderful sunlight. Having moved on we were compensated by views of Golden Eagle a little later, not always a species you can automatically anticipate even by dint of deliberate and prolonged effort.
We then journeyed on to the Wigtown Peninsula. We soon discovered the Wigtown Harbour Reserve, an absolute gem of a site with extensive views over an area of merse with its braided drainage channels and of a pool immediately adjacent to a hide. Both Barnacle and Pink-footed Geese were feeding fairly close by on the merse until a Peregrine spooked them and they moved farther away.On the pool a good variety of waterbirds was present including Shoveler, Pintail, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Goldeneye, Moorhen and Little Grebe. All were close and the site would be a veritable treasure trove for any beginner to birdwatching!
From there we moved south to Garlieston, a picturesque, quiet harbour and village which belies its bustling history as a key port for the hinterland. Key too as the area in the Second World war where the Mulberry Harbour structures were assembled previous to the Normandy landings. The whole penninsula has a Heritage Trail the primary site of which is St. Ninian's Cave , the site of the first Christian settlement in Scotland in 397 AD.
Garlieston's ornithological claim to fame is its wintering Greenshank of which we found two, although numbers can be higher. Of equal interest were 21 Light -bellied Brent Geese and 14 Gadwall (8 M 6F ). The latter don't appear to be that common on the Solway although, strangely enough, we found a further two birds on a pool next to the B7063. This whole area seems likely to lack any intensive coverage by birders due to its inherent geography, but it has a variety of habitats and, I suspect, plays host to a wide variety of birds. It is extensive, but certainly warrants patient examination as its coast carries breeding seabirds and open views of Luce Bay too. A caravan park at Burrows Head would provide a suitable base for a "get away from it all" holiday and doubtless repay the attention by providing some really enjoyable birdwatching.