Dumfries and Galloway Bird Watching Grade: Leisurely
This holiday is based in a comfortable Scottish country house hotel set in 3 acres of garden and woodland and only a two-minute walk to Newton Stewart, a picturesque, small, market town on the banks of the River Cree. From here, we explore a range of world class nature reserves from Loch Ryan on the west coast, one of the best winter birding sites in Scotland, to the famous Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust reserve at Caerlaverock on the Solway estuary. We also explore several reserves in between, including the RSPB reserves of Ken-Dee Marshes and Mersehead.
In early winter, the Solway estuary is a truly magical place for birdwatchers with unrivalled opportunities to see thousands of wild geese, wildfowl, waders and an impressive cast of raptors, divers and grebes. We will see thousands of barnacle geese, over-wintering on the Solway’s shores from their summer breeding grounds in Svalbard in the high Arctic, and sometimes they may fly over-head almost within touching distance! Also common on the saltings are Pink-footed and Greylag Geese. On all our outings, we will be searching the attractive landscape of lochs, undulating farmland, heath, reed beds, woodlands and willow scrub for the more elusive birds of Dumfries and Galloway. These include the peregrine, merlin, hen harrier and short-eared owl as well as the small flock of Greenland White-fronted geese that over-winter here and the resident, rarer, small birds such as willow tit and twite. We will also aim to enjoy the red kite feeding frenzy which is a sight to behold.
The focus of this trip is on bird watching rather than walking and cars will be used to give us the felxibility to move from one place to the next during the day.