Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Dumfries and Galloway Trip - Day 2

My destination today was Threave Castle to see the Ospreys which nest close by each year and with a bonus of seeing the Peregrine Falcons which nest in the castle itself.  I made the mistake of going to Threave Gardens first but whilst I was waiting for the visitor centre there to open, I had the feeling that it wasn't the right place as the castle ruins are some way from the gardens. So off I set in search of the castle and the birds.

On arriving at the castle location I had a nice chat with Louis in the visitor centre and he gave me a good overview of the site and where things were. Luckily I'm a National Trust for Scotland member and so I can get in to the castle (which requires a short boat trip over the River Dee) to see the Peregrines free of charge.

But my primary target was the Osprey nest and so that's where I went first. I stayed here around an hour and a half and for a long time all that could be seen was the top of an Osprey's head rising slightly above the top of the nest.  I went for a walk along the path to the first hide and on my way back a second bird came back to the nest and perched on the edge.  The sitting bird than left and returned after about 10 minutes with a fish.

Although nearer than some nest sites, the Ospreys are quite distant here and so great photos are not really possible.  The gloomy weather also didn't help, so after taking a few record shots I decided to head for the Peregrines at the castle.  When I arrived at the boat, the warden piloting it asked me if I was the National Trust Photographer, probably because of all the gear I was carrying on my trolley.  I had to tell him 'no', but that I wished I was!

After I got off the boat, a second warden called Malcolm took me straight to a place where we could see one of the Peregrine's sitting on an inside window ledge on the thick north-facing wall. These shots were all taken through a south-facing window looking across the castle to the bird on the opposite side.  I'm so glad I took these as after about five minutes the bird went out of view as it walked deeper into the castle walls.  And for a few of these five minutes I turned into a warden myself, showing people where they could see the bird as well as the shots on the back of my camera.

Later in the afernoon I considered going to the Red Kite Feeding Station at Bellymack Hill Farm in Laurieston, but as the weather was still gloomy and I'd seen Red Kites being fed earlier this year, I decided just to go to the Ken-Dee Marshes RSPB site to see the Greenland White-fronted Geese.

I found about twenty of the geese associating with some Icelandic Greylag Geese in a field close to the road.  I had a good look at them though my binoculars, but unfortunately they spook very easily and whilst I was getting my camera from the back of my motorhome they flew off, even though I didn't even get out of the van.

After parking the van I walked up to the Goose Viewing Platform which overlooks the fields where they are most commonly seen feeding but apart from a few Greylags, Mallards, Canada Geese and the odd Red Kite here and there, there really wasn't much about, so no photos at all I'm afraid. Well at least I saw them earlier.

From the Ken-Dee Marshes I decided just to head for my next campsite near Wigtown as it was about an hour's drive from here.

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