Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Birding the Rhins of Galloway

I recently took a trip to the Rhins of Galloway to check out some of my favourite birding haunts. Travelling South from Glasgow I stopped along the way at Turnberry to check some roosting Shags for colour rings. Unfortunately none of the birds were ringed however the area was covered in wading birds such as Turnstone, Ringed Plovers and lots of ducks such as Eiders, Mallards and Tufted ducks. Not a bad place to stretch some weary legs! Further down the coast I stopped at another beach (again on the hunt for Shag rings or dead seabirds washed onto the beach following recent storms) and came across a lovely male Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) resting on some twigs.

Turnstone (Arenaria interpres) at Turnberry, East Ayrshire (photo Laura Shearer)
Male stonechat (Saxicola torquata) hanging around the coast (photo Laura Shearer)
Upon arrival at Stranraer I checked out the 'usual' birding spots including the local train station which ends at the old ferry port. The harbour is a real hot spot of activity for wintering GuillemotsBlack Guillemots/Tysties as well as divers, Slavonian and Great Crested Grebes. The highlight however was a beautiful female Black Redstart zipping along the ground, feeding between the old track lines.

Heading South I made my way to the Mull of Galloway where I worked last season for the RSPB. Hoping for some raptor activity, I was not disappointed as I watched a Peregrine Falcon wrestle with a Common Buzzard mid-air. Needless to say the Buzzard flew off promptly whilst the Peregrine continued to hunt for some food- what an amazing sight!

Winter plummage Black Guillemot at Stranraer Harbour (photo Laura Shearer)
Winter plummage Great Crested Grebe, Stranraer (photo Laura Shearer)
Female Black Redstart at Stranraer train station (photo Laura Shearer)

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