Leucistic Barnacle Goose at Loaningfoot
Having enjoyed the Barnacle Geese we had to choose our next destination and despite the distance we picked the wild west and headed to Loch Ryan. Stranraer initially seems like an unlikely birding destination with it's urban, industrial skyline (anyone noticed the cheese chimney?), but looking out onto Loch Ryan it's a different story. With minimal effort (and with the benefit of calm water) we quickly picked up an impressive array of seafowl; flocks of 249 & 390 Scaup; eight Common Scoters; two Long-tailed Ducks (including a stunning male offshore at the Wigg); c.30 Red-breasted Mergansers; c.25 Goldeneye; c.40 Eiders; one Great Northern Diver; 25 Red-throated Divers; 20 Slavonian Grebes, 12 Great Crested Grebes; two Black Guillemots and two Razorbills. At the Wigg nature reserve we picked up 94 Pale-bellied Brent Geese; a Rock Pipit; c.80 Linnets; c.65 Twite; a Sparrowhawk; a leucistic Oystercatcher; a Little Egret and 1320 Pink-footed Geese that were flushed from a nearby hillside.
Pale-bellied Brent Geese at the Wigg, Loch Ryan
Leucisitc Oystercatcher at the Wigg, Loch Ryan
Excellent local knowledge by Colin had us head over to West Heugh M.O.D. base to search for Greenland White-fronted Geese and Hen Harriers. We quickly located a dozen White-fronts mixed with a group of Greylags, a change of location to try and get a better look at the the geese brought us close to c.440 Greylags with other geese flying to roost including c.650 Pink-feet and 60 more Greenland White-fronts. Four Whooper Swans flew past and it was interesting to see the number of Roe Deer increase as the light faded, we ended up seeing about 20. The best sight of all was watching Hen Harriers coming to roost. We saw seven come in, four males and three females; really impressive. A good day out in good company, Dave excelled at the driving and Colin did the directions; I really didn't have to do anything!