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Dumfries and Galloway Update 8th to 10th June 2010



    Glenwhan Gardens - click here for a larger imageOn 8th & 9th June 2010 we returned to Stranraer in Dumfries and Galloway to visit several of the gardens we had seen earlier in the year, to enjoy the early summer colours. Glenwhan Gardens in particular are stunning at this time of the year and are still ringing with the song of Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. Several pairs of Yellowhammer are resident here and Buzzard are regularly seen drifting overhead. Whilst visiting Dunskey Gardens we popped in to nearby Portpatrick harbour for Black Guillemot. Unlike our previous visit, there was only one bird around, but we did see a Fulmar gliding past offshore. During our stay the weather was overcast, with frequent showers, but this didn’t prevent us from getting around the gardens we wished to visit and enjoying our two nights at the North West Castle Hotel which still retains some of the old world charm of a bygone era and also serves up good food.


    On our way home on 10th June the weather had brightened up considerably, the wind had dropped and the sun was shining, so we decided to do a little birdwatching. Our first port of call was Knockman Wood at Minnigaff near Newton Stewart. RSPB Wood of CreeThis area of old broad-leaved woodland is surrounded by recent pine plantations with the centre slowly being cleared to allow forest regeneration. Management is by the Forestry Commission and the area is noted for breeding summer migrants such as Pied and Spotted Flycatcher, Wood Warbler and Redstart. There appear to be gates across the track where the wood is signed off the road: don’t be put off, these are not locked and there is a small car park a few hundred metres along the track into the woods. One thing worth noting though is the c1 mile walk from the car park through conifer plantations to Knockman Wood itself. We didn’t really have enough time to explore the broad-leaved section fully but we spent almost two hours in the conifers and around the perimeter and came across several singing Tree Pipit along with Treecreeper, Willow Warbler and Willow Tit.  With more time we might have had better luck with the flycatchers etc., but we wanted to explore the nearby RSPB Wood of Cree reserve, the largest ancient wood in southern Scotland, which attracts similar species. We spent a delightful 2 hours or so walking the 3 mile trail of paths up the wooded hillside and back to the car park, but didn’t see or hear any signs of either Pied Flycatcher or Redstart; indeed the numerous nest boxes scattered around all seemed deserted. With several Wood Warbler calling nearby, we managed to get reasonable views of one of the birds and similarly with Garden Warbler. We also saw an adult Tree Pipit with a juvenile, Blackcap, several Willow Tit and Long-tailed Tit.


    Yellowhamer on a bench at Glenwhan Gardens - click for a larger imageWe were a little disappointed with the absence of Pied Flycatcher and Redstart, but the sunshine and the woodland walk helped to compensate. We saw 53 species whilst we were away without really trying too hard.

    David and Amanda Mason


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