Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wild goose chase begins around Dumfries and Galloway in South West Scotland

The phrase "wild goose chase" takes on a different meaning in Dumfries and Galloway this March 2008.

It's an event to draw attention to the thousands of Arctic geese - six different varieties - that spend the winter on the mild shores of the Solway in South West Scotland.

The centre of attention is Britain's largest Local Natural Reserve (LNR) at Wigtown, 25 miles east of Stranraer.

Other sites include Caerlaverock, close to the famous triangular castle, as well as Mersehead, Loch Ken and the Ken-Dee Marshes, Threave (with another of Dumfries and Galloway's historic fortresses, this one on an island in the River Dee) and Loch Ryan.

The six geese varieties you can see in the area are the Barnacle goose, Canada goose, Brent goose, Pink-footed goose, Greylag goose and the Greenland white-fronted goose.


If you go to the Visitors' Room at the top of the proudly restored County Buildings in Wigtown, you can get a bird's eye view of the Wigtown Bay LNR (I get the same view out the front window!) or you can watch the geese up close from the Wigtown Harbour Hide for a closer look.

From Friday 14 to Sunday 16 March you can take part in a special events weekend.

If you come to the County Buildings at the crack of dawn (Saturday and Sunday at 5 a.m.) you can watch the dawn flight of geese as they leave their overnight roosting places in Wigtown Bay.

And at the Harbour Hide, binoculars and telescopes are being made available on these days, with knowledgeable volunteers on hand to help and answer questions.

There will be a series of goose related talks and films in the Wigtown County Buildings at 11 a.m. on Saturday 15 March and Sunday 16 March, and at 7 p.m. on Friday 14, Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 March.

Other related events around Dumfries and Galloway can be found here and here on Facebook any time.

For up to the minute details of all the free events you can also call (+44)(0)1988 402401 in Wigtown, or the Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) office in nearby Newton Stewart on (+44)(0)1671 401075, where you can also order a free new 24 page booklet "Welcome to Wildlife in Dumfries and Galloway".

For more information on birdwatching in Scotland, including where to get a free guide to the wildlife of Scotland, also see the dedicated page at my website Scotland Secrets: Bird Watching Vacations.