Wednesday 2 September.
An invite to the Solway WeBS counters meeting at Caerlaverock was just too good to turn down. After all, why go all that way for a meeting? Have to take in some birding - well, it would be rude not to after all so I booked a night in the nearby Nith Hotel in Glencaple and planned my break around the meeting.
First stop as usual was Browhouses on the Inner Solway, with plenty of exposed mud despite the incoming tide. This meant lots to count - 139 Golden Plover (some pictured above with Lapwings), 146 Curlew, 6 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 664 Lapwings, 83 Oystercatchers and disappointingly just 2 Dunlin. Interestingly numbers of the latter have dropped drastically over the last few weeks on the Solway (noted by local observers too), something noted around this time last year here in Lancs as well - we are apparently between "movements" of Dunlin (departure of birds eventually wintering in W. Africa and arrival of European wintering birds). Thank goodness for good birding websites like the LDBWS one and local birder expertise.
Yet another Med' Gull, this time an adult and 2 Goosander made up the other notables (not that I ever tire of those Med's).
Seafield Bay near Annan was next on the agenda but the short journey was interrupted by a Marsh Harrier over the B721 near Dornock. Pulling over quickly I could see this was a different bird to the dark immature seen recently at Carsethorn and Caerlaverock, showing paler overall brown plumage, a paler (colder) gold crown and pale patch on the breast. I watched this bird drift west before giving Birdline Scotland and RBA an update.
Very little of note at Seafield at high tide so I sped off inland to Castle Loch but failed to locate much of interest. Lots of Common Gulls around at the moment, inland and on the coast, keeping me busy searching for that elusive Ring-billed that must surely drop onto my D&G list (that I don't keep) soon. Not today though.
This pond is just outside Annan. I've driven by many times, sometimes there are lots of Teal on it, often a few Herons. I've never stopped but one local birder had the common sense to do just that of late and found this .....
BirdTrack flagged up the recent influx of continental breeding Garganey and they've been well represented in D&G over the past fortnight.
Last stop before checking in at the hotel was Brow Well near Caerlaverock. A nice selection of birds noted here in just over an hour included 3 Greenshanks, 47 Golden Plover, a Common Sandpiper, a Whimbrel, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Goosander and a Sand Martin. At least 500 Common Gulls were on the exposed sand.
The WWT staff allowed me to stay on the reserve until the WeBS meeting started and I was grateful for the shelter provided by the hides at Caerlaverock. At least one Greenshank "chu-chu-chuing" as it flew around, 26 Snipe, 83 Curlew and a single Osprey kept me amused before the start of a very interesting get-together and a good excuse to put some faces to names. A Badger running along the road alongside the Nith was the final event of the day as I drove back to the hotel in a deluge.
More strange tales from north of the border to follow.