Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Calm before the storm. 21.3.2013.

Having decided some time ago to complete a repeat of the trip to SW England Matthew and I undertook last year, I also looked towards adding on a few days birding in mainland Scotland before the onset of the trip. Initially I'd decided to have a couple of days in Fife and then a further couple of days on the Solway. As departure day approached the weather forecasts looked pretty grim in the east so I grouped all the days together and resolved to stay in Dumfries for four nights to avoid the worst of the predicted snow. How little I knew !!  But first, the trip outwards.

Despite the impending weather forecast, the day proved fine, with even a little sun, although the easterly wind was bitter. The voyage and most of the journey was uneventful, but the latter part began to gather more interest. Obviously lambing had started quite early in some places and some well grown individuals were on show. Reaching Dumfries and Galloway my personal favourite breed of cattle ( Belted Galloway ) began to appear, a colour combination that always reminds me of Liquorice Allsorts !!

Further on my eyes turned westwards towards the Forest of Ae and prompted returning memories of a "training event"  many years ago organized by RSPB that centred down on forestry techniques and dwelt on differing practices in different areas.  Of particular interest was something a small group of us was shown by Ronnie Rose, a senior forester in one independent forestry area where a series of innovative planting approaches was being taken. Having an ongoing interest in Long-eared Owls,  it was fascinating also to be shown the usage of shallow metal baskets that acted as a base for a nest and to learn of their success, even to the extent of having three fledged young staring down at us from nearby trees!  Given much debate, at that time, revolving around the sterility of  mono-cultured plantations, this, and other ideas, were most certainly  absorbing initiatives.  To revisit such areas, as well as many other locations enjoyed on winter family holidays over several years, proved to be the task I addressed throughout the evening. And was the Surf Scoter still on Loch Ryan I asked.........