Friday 6th November 2009 NIOC party of twelve took the early morning boat to Cairnryan. Not a lot to see on the crossing, weather and visibility poor. Entering Loch Ryan we saw a couple of Red Throated Divers and Shags. There was a Guillemot before entering the Loch.
On leaving the boat we drove to the Wig. The road to the point is badly in need of some stones and a roller. Despite the rain and cold we saw large flocks of Golden Plover and a few Grey Plover. Ringed Plover, Redshank and Oystercatcher too. On the kale fields there was a large flock of Twite and Linnet. It was a lovely sight to see them all lined out on a fence.
After a brief stop at the shore near Stranraer where we saw three Slavonian Grebe very close. We headed on to Wigtown hide to escape the bad weather. Unfortunately our visit was curtailed as the path was engulfed by the rising tide. After lunch it was onward to Ken Dee Marshes.
On the road down to the hide we saw five Red Kites circling over the hillside. A flight of Fieldfare was a sure sign of winter approaching. The track down to the hide was alive with Pheasants. At the hide a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Willow Tit, Teal, and Shoveller were the highlights.
Saturday began with a run to Kirkpatrick Durham to check the Tawny Owl site. Wet conditions kept the owls out of sight. Next stop was Dumfries. A surprise count of fifteen Goosander on the River Nith was great to see. From here we moved on to Caerlaverock. Large numbers of Barnacle Geese were evident all over the reserve. Whooper and Mute Swan in good numbers were on the ponds in front of the Peter Scott hide. Some of our group saw two Peregrines from one of the hides.
After lunch at Caerlaverock we travelled to Lochmaben to find the American Widgeon on Castle Loch. Large numbers of Widgeon Goldeneye, Tufted Duck and Teal made it difficult to locate the American. Brief views of the bird were claimed, but with no degree of certainty. The final stop for the day was the Barn Owl site at Mossdale. Eventually as it got dark the Barn Owl flew out of the nest box and settled on a tree. A pair of Red Kite were seen near the village.
Sunday was an altogether better day, near freezing temperatures and blue skies. First stop was the Ken Dee hides. Patience was rewarded for the ladies with good views of Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch. The photographers drew a blank by moving to the near hide.
From Ken Dee Marshes we travelled to Mersehead via the viewpoint at Bennen Forest. Pintail, Canada Geese, Goldeneye, Teal and Shoveller were the principal wildfowl seen from the far hide. Yellowhammer and House Sparrow were seen in small numbers in the hedgerows. A Sparrowhawk visited the feeders behind the centre.
Road delays meant that a planned trip to Penwhirn Reservoir for raptors had to be cancelled. We ended the day at West Freugh Airfield. At least six Hen Harriers, a Merlin and two Buzzards kept us busy.