After three days of self imposed "exile" in Dumfries due to the horrendous weather which has hit most of the UK It was time to transfer to my intended "base" for the second part of the holiday. I'd achieved nothing within the first part due to road closures locally, but reflected on the fact that, had I been at home , conditions wouldn't have been any better!
I was amazed, and in awe, of the small group of birds in the vicinity of the Travelodge , that , day after day, fed within the short length of hedgerow along a nearby ditchline. That they could survive the conditions and exceedingly low temperatures is almost unbelievable. Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird, Starling, Dunnock and Robin were doubtless welcoming the ever so slight improvement to conditions.
And so, after buying stores I set off westwards along the A75, fully open but with less welcoming roads leading off elsewhere. I called at Carlingwark Loch, Castle Douglas and was surprised to find it unfrozen. Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen plus an assemblage of gulls, mainly Black-headed , the odd Common and Herring and a single LBBG were in evidence. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew away and a Treecreeper industriously worked its way up one of the mature lochside trees whilst a Mistle Thrush , several Starlings and Blackbirds sought food in the open. I abandoned my intention to walk at least part of the way around the loch as the fine snow continued to fall and create a mist like atmosphere that limited visibility.
Continuing on I parked up near Creetown overlooking where the River Cree flows into Wigtown Bay which, at high tide, presents a huge expanse of water ! Little was in view , although a couple of Goldcrest exploring a bankside tree were both a surprise and a delight. Whilst the weather hadn't improved, the amount of snow was lessening as each mile went by . Shortly after Newton Stewart the first open fields came into view ( hooray ! ) and life started to hold promise ! Continuing on Stranraer, let it be said, is snow free even to the extent of a few crocus and snowdrops adding a touch of colour to an otherwise drab background.
I couldn't resist parking up at several spots overlooking Loch Ryan and was rewarded with views of Red-throated Diver, Great Crested Grebe, Eider, Goldeneye and a flock of Light bellied Brent Geese near to The Wig on the western side. A good beginning ! After arriving at my "base" on the Corsewall Estate the rest of the day was taken up by the usual chore of unpacking , cooking and familiarisation of what is an extremely comfortable apartment in a converted stable block. A welcome shift in fortune after the tribulations of the past week, although a thought must be given for the many folk who have had things far worse. It's got to end sometime, folks !
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