Monday, March 21, 2011

Vain search for Black Grouse!

An early start, frustrated in part by fog until around 0800 hours, led to a very enjoyable day despite our not seeing everything we'd hoped for. Within the Galloway Forest Park is the Raiders Road, a ten mile drive though the forest for which there is a charge, but which is closed between November and April. Prompted by details within the guide I mentioned we elected to walk along the road and look for Black Grouse within a couple of areas that have been cleared in recent times.. The road takes you into the quiet wilderness of Galloway and is an absolute joy to be within providing , as it does, all the quintessential elements of solitude, scenery , the sights and smells of the forest and the pleasure of its wildlife. Whilst we didn't see any Black Grouse, nor many of the other specialities either, the walk was a real tonic and good sightings of Common Crossbill added to it all.

On to Loch Ryan at Stranraer amidst glorious sunshine and a host of good birds. Most noticeable was the numbers of Red-throated Diver, with various groups in a differing array of plumages being present. Added to these were Long-tailed Duck, Common Scoter, Greater Scaup, Pintail, Eider, Red-breasted Merganser and Shelduck, various common waders, both Black Guillemot and Common Guillemot, a small flock of Light-bellied Brent Geese, Slavonian Grebes as well as a fantastic collection of gull species. Whilst we dutifully went through the latter the recently reported Mediterranean Gull, Iceland Gull and Yellow legged Gull eluded us!! At the Wig a good flock of Twite was still present along with odd Linnet.

Our final "move" was to the West Freugh area to watch for roosting Hen Harrier. This roost is much reduced in its numbers of birds compared to past years but, nonetheless, it produced an absolutely stunning female bird, which delighted us by passing within around 30-40 metres of our vantage point. Select stuff added to by a fly past male Peregrine! A solid day.

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