Scotland Dumfries & Galloway
Dumfries & Galloway is well known for the spectacle of over-wintering wildfowl along the shores of the inner Solway Firth. 40,000 ducks, geese and swans and more than 80,000 waders are present during the winter. However, this is by no means all the area has to offer and there are some excellent sites for birding at other coastal sites and inland too. The region has plenty to offer in a variety of habitats all through the year.
The Rhins of Galloway
This area is especially noted for seabird colonies and overwintering birds at Loch Ryan. The best autumn sea-watching site in Dumfries & Galloway is at Corsewall Point, at the northern tip of the peninsula.
The best birdwatching in this area is along the rocky coastline and the mudflats and saltmarshes of Wigtown bay. Also worth visiting are the moors around Mochrum Loch.
Stewartry of Kirkudbright
There is a very varied range of habitats in this area ranging from high barren hills to fertile lowlands through remote lochs, tumbling rivers, conifer plantation, oak woodlands down to the rugged coastline. Virtually every habitat that Scotland as a whole has to offer in one compact area. This range of habitats means that a great variety of birds can be seen within a short period of time.
The Inner Solway
The Solway flats and marshes are internationally important for 10 species of wildfowl that overwinter, and nationally important for a further 8 species of water and shorebirds. It makes this area the best place in the region to see Scaup, Barnacle geese, Whooper swans, Bartailed Godwit, Knot, Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper and Skuas.
The high hills in the North & East are terrific for upland species such as Peregrine and Raven. Numerous rivers and lochs are good for waterbirds and the oakwoodlands good for songbirds. The coast, as always, is the winter home of ducks, geese and waders.
*See places other birders go Birding...
Caerlaverock - WWT
Habitats: Farmland & Ponds managed for Wildlife (+ nearby NNR Reserve Saltmarsh & Mudflats). Summer meadows.
Birds: Internationally important wintering Svalbard Barnacle geese. Ducks, waders, peregrine, merlin, hen harrier, short-eared owl, breeding barn owl.
Facilities: Hides and Towers, tea-room and gift shop. Good disabled access (I was allowed to drive to hides and towers - Fatbirder)
Directions: A75 from Dumfries (8 miles); From Carlisle follow Solway Coast Heritage Trail - B724 & B725. Open all year except Xmas day. Admission charge.
Castle Loch - LNR
Habitats: Freshwater Loch, willow and alder carr, oak woodland and grazed marshland. SSSI, SPA & Ramsar site.
Birds: Greylag geese, goosander, other wildfowl - ocassionally smew, Resident Kingfishers, willow tit.
Facilities: Information Boards and leaflets, one hide (no disabled access).
Directions: A709 Lochmaen - Lockerbie Road (Disable viewing from pier). B7020 Lochmaben - Annan Road.
Habitats: Sea loch, mudflats and shingle spur.
Birds: Wintering divers and grebes, wildfowl and waders, breeding terns.
Facilities: Information Boards, Toilets [Balyett].
Directions: A77 along the Eastern shore or A718 west from Stranraer and North to Wig Bay for Western shore.
Mersehead Farm - RSPB
Habitats: Lowland wet grassland, saltmarsh, low sand dunes and mudflats. Part of SSSI, SPA & Ramsar site.
Birds: Barnacle & pinkfeet geese, pintail, wigeon, teal, shoveler, hen harrier, barn owl, breeding and wintering waders.
Facilities: Visitor Centre, hide, signposted footpaths, Toilets.
Directions: Minor Road off the A710 at Caulkerbush.
Mull of Galloway - RSPB
Habitats: Coastal cliffs, maritime heath. SSSI, RSPB reserve beyond lighthouse wall.
Birds: largest seabird colony on Mainland Western scotland. Fulmars, Guillemots, Black Guillemots, Razorbills, Puffins, Kittiwakes, shags, gannets and shearwaters. Breeding twite.
Facilities: Visitor Centre, information boards and footpaths.
Directions: A716 to Drummore then follow signposts on minor roads.
See useful information section for where to obtain very useful leaflet on sites which include: New England Bay, Southern Upland Way, Corsewall Point, Castle Kennedy & White Loch, Luce Bay, Burrow Head & St Ninian`s Cave, Garlieston & Cruggleton Bays, Wigtown Bay LNR, Kirroughtree Forest Papy Ha` Bird Trail, Carstramon Woods SWT, Threave gardens & Wildfowl refuge NTS, Loch Ken, River Dee Marshes RSPB, Milton Loch, Loch Arthur, Mabie Forest, Rockcliffe NTS, Glencaple, Powfoot, Seafield, Browhouses, Hoddom Estate, Glenkiln Reservoir, Whitesands, Ae Forest, Applegarth Wildlife sanctuary, Grey Mare`s Tail NTS. Etc.
Ranger for Dumfries & Galloway Council
Paul Collin (Stewarty & Wigtown)
Gairland, Old Edinburgh Road, Minnigaff, Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, DG8 6PL
Number of Species
Number of bird species: -
There are no county birds as such but the obvious one for Dumfriesshire would be Barnacle Goose Branta leucopsis
Fatbirder's very own checklists are now available through WebBirder
The Birds in Wigtownshire
by R C Dickson - GC Book Publishers Ltd. 1992
ISBN: 1872350356Buy this book from NHBS.com
The Solway: Cumbria/Dumfries and Galloway
(Best Birdwatching Sites series) by John Miles | Softcover | 2010 | Buckingham Press | NHBS Price: £17.50 | c. $27/€21
See Fatbirder Review
ISBN: 0955033934Buy this book from NHBS.com
Where to Watch Birds in Scotland
Mike Madders and Julia Welstead - 297 pages, b/w illus, maps - Christopher Helm
ISBN: 071365693XBuy this book from NHBS.com
Produced by Dumfries & Galloway Council Countryside ranger Service
Ross Gemmell - Annandale and Eskdale Ranger, Planning and Environment, Militia House, English St, Dumfries DG1 2HR - Telephone – 01387 260366 firstname.lastname@example.org
Guides & Tour Operators
Local birders willing to show visiting birders around their area…
CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.
2007 [March] - Mike Graham
…Parts of the beach were very rocky and a maximum of 25 Oystercatchers, 6 Curlew, 4 Redshank and 2 Ringed Plover were seen on any one day. On the bushes around the bay, Yellowhammer, Stonechats and Linnets were common. A Redpoll was spotted one morning. There was a Wheatear near the lighthouse and Rock pipits were seen on the way up to the cliffs were a Peregine was hunting. There was a Raven and numerous Red Leg Partridges…
2009 [March] - Pete Berry
We met up at Bolton Services on the M61 at 7.30am and by 10am we were birding at our 1st stop at Castle Loch, Lochmaben. We had good views of lots of wildfowl here including a redhead Smew, lots of Tufted Duck, Goosanders, Gadwall etc plus distant views of Golden Plover and a Treecreeper in the surrounding woodland…
2010 [June] - David & Amanda Mason
On 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…
2010 [May] - David & Amanda Mason
…Whilst driving we also came across Wheatear, Stonechat, Yellowhammer, a single Hooded Crow, 3 Whimbrel, a pair of Curlew and a lone hunting Peregrine…
2015 [March] - Christopher Hall
...More glorious sunshine for our visit to the Ken – Dee Marshes RSPB reserve, not far from Castle Douglas, where early sightings include Red Kite and a couple of Goosander. Deeper into the reserve, we enjoy close views of Bullfinch and Nuthatch, followed by Blue, Great, Coal and Willow Tits on the same feeder, right in front of the hide! Meanwhile, a really cute Red Squirrel is waiting for us on our way back to the car park. By now it’s time for lunch at nearby Bellymack Farm, where a growing congregation of Red Kites gathers in time for the 2pm feed. Initially a dozen or so kites are joined by more and more of these graceful raptors, which whistle and play in mid air in anticipation of a free lunch. By feeding time, there must be at least one hundred and fifty kites hanging in the air around the farm, ready to ‘drop in’ for lunch by swooping down at speed to snatch meaty morsels dished out by the farmer. What a fabulous show.
Places to Stay
Blue Peter Hotel - Kirkcolm, Wigtownshire
Now under new management for 2005. Ian and Ruth Murray - the new owners of the Blue Peter Hotel - give a warm and friendly welcome to all who wish to stay at the Blue Peter Hotel. This is a bird watchers and wildlife paradise…
Estate cottages and etc.…
Cowans Farm Guesthouse
Kirkgunzeon, Dumfries, South West Scotland, DG2 8JY Telephone: 01387 760284 Fax: 01387 760602 - Centrally based in Southwest Scotland, Cowan`s makes an ideal location for a one-stop holidayor a stop over stay for those venturing further North. A family run business awaits you for a truly relaxing and tranquil break, our motto is to provide all guest with a stress free time to remember Lying in rural solitude the guesthouse is some 8 miles west of Dumfries, set in a beautiful natural landscape overlooking the gentle rolling countryside.
Glen Caple Cottages
Glensone and Pitcairns cottages are 18th century traditionally built self-catering holiday cottages, situated in the picturesque village of Glencaple, Dumfries & Galloway. Both of our cottages have been refurbished to an excellent standard…
Kirkennan Holiday Cottages
Kirkennan Holiday Cottages, Palnackie, are located in one of the most beautiful holiday destinations in Dumfries and Galloway, South West Scotland. Discover the woodlands, wildlife and sandy shores of Dumfries and Galloway, explore the hills and coast.. handy for Caerlaverock Reserve...
Orroland Holiday Cottages
Situated in wooded farmland overlooking the Solway Firth with access through ancient woodland (SSSI) to rocky seashore, home to a range of migratory birds. Location: Kirkcudbright, Dumfries & Galloway, SW Scotland
Pieces of 8 - Palnackie
Pieces of 8 is a charming mid terraced cottage set in the pretty little village of Palnackie in the heart of Galloway. The accommodation is spread over three floors and is immaculately presented throughout with a cosy open fire in the lounge making this cottage a suitable choice regardless of the season. The name of the cottage is apposite as this area was notorious for its smuggling connections. Never more so than at nearby Balcary where the hotel was riddled with holes for secreting the contraband…
Radcliffe holiday cottage offers spacious and comfortable accommodation in a quiet rural village setting close to the Solway Firth and makes a great base for touring Dumfries and Galloway…
Steamboat Inn B&B - Dumfries
Coachloads of visitors come from as far away as Liverpool to watch the birds here and at nearby Nature Reserves…
The Douglas Arms, Castle Douglas, Kirkudbrightshire
Once an old coaching house situated in the heart of the historic market town of Castle Douglas the hotel provides a warm welcome, comfortable rooms and tasty food. The superb location gives easy access to the RSPB nature reserve of Ken/Dee Marshes, an area of stunning woodland and managed wetlands. Bird watchers can hope to see spotted woodpecker, pied flycatchers, redstarts, spotted flycatchers, willow tits, wood warblers in the spring and summer. The winter attracts Greenland white-fronted geese and various species of duck, also mammals including otter, roe deer and red squirrel. Red kites have been reintroduced to the area and the clearly signed Galloway Kite Trail can be followed from the town. The Douglas Arms is offering Fat Birder website visitors a special discount from October to March of £29.50 per person per night bed and breakfast, subject to availability.
The Old Exchange
The Old Exchange is nestled in the heart of the beautiful National Trust Threave Estate, set on the nature trail that links the internationally renowned Threave Gardens to the magnificent historic ruins of Threave Castle. Our luxurious, newly converted apartments in the old exchange building are close to Castle Douglas and the A75 making it the perfect place for touring the region and for a peaceful country break in South West Scotland…
The Tower House
The Tower House, a listed building, provides self-catering holiday accommodation in a former toll house, built in the 1800s. The cottage has recently been refurbished to a high standard with accommodation comprising lounge, kitchen/dining room, double bedroom, twin bedroom and bathroom. The beautiful south facing garden provides a delightful setting in which to enjoy your holiday, with splendid views across open countryside…
Scottish Wildlife Trust - Dumfries & Galloway
The Scottish Wildlife Trust Galloway Group has 300 members throughout Dumfries and Galloway in southwest Scotland. Our main objective is to promote local wildlife and habitats by engaging with our own members, the general public, local landowners and local planning authorities.
SOC - Dumfries Branch
Secretary - Pat Abery, East Daylesford, Colvend, Dalbeattie, DG5 4QA, Tel 01556 630483
SOC - Stewartry Branch
Joan Howie, 60 Main Street, St Johns Town of Dalry, Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire, DG7 3UW 01644 430226
SOC - West Galloway Branch
Secretary - Geoff Sheppard, The Roddens, Leswalt, Stranraer, Wigtownshire, DG9 0QR 01776 870685 email@example.com
Forestry Commission - Dalbeattie Forest
Dalbeattie forest is one of the most important sites in Dumfries and Galloway for nightjar…
Forestry Commission - Mabie Forest
During the months of May to July it is possible to hear male nightjar churring near to the specially created clearings South of Dalshinnie Loch…
Nature Reserves in Dumfries and Galloway
Dumfries and Galloway has many nature reserves. Whilst these are well worth visiting, the extensive Forestry Enterprise plantations of Ae Forest, Mabie Forest, Dalbeattie Forest, the Galloway Forest Park woods at Carsphairn, Clatteringshaws and Glen Trool, offer considerable and diverse birdlife. There are also many areas of cliff and inland crag used as nesting sites. The Reserves protect special or extensive areas, often of wetlands…
RSPB Reserve - Ken-Dee Marshes
In spring, migrant redstarts and pied flycatchers join the resident woodland birds…
RSPB Reserve - Mersehead
It is important for wintering wildfowl including barnacle geese, teals, wigeons and pintails…
RSPB Reserve - Mull of Galloway
The cliffs are home to thousands of breeding birds, including razorbills, guillemots and puffins. Visit nesting birds between April and July. Over 2,000 pairs of gannets breed on a small outcrop called Scare Rocks…
RSPB Reserve - Wood of Cree
spring, the wood is alive with the sound of bird song, as the resident birds are joined by redstarts, pied flycatchers and garden warblers from Africa…
WWT Reserve - Caelaverock
Enjoy a marvellous wildlife spectacle of up to 24,000 Barnacle Geese in winter and daily wild Whooper Swan bird feeds. In spring you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of nesting Barn Owls via hidden cameras, along with Foxes and Badgers. In Summer enjoy the splendour of the wildflowers on the reserve.
Forums & Mailing Lists
Dumfries and Galloway birding
This is an group where you can post and discuss bird sightings and also bird related issues within Dumfries and Galloway. News of both common and rare birds is welcomed. This forum also welcomes discussion on the identification of birds in Dumfries and Galloway and also outside the county. Although birding is the main theme of this group, discussion on other natural history areas such as Butterflies, Dragonflies and Mammals are also welcome…
Birding in Dumfries and Galloway & Beyond
Just a little bit of a write up of some of my birding trips and also some extra information on the county I live in…
Birdwatching on the Solway Firth
The glories of the Solway are many fold - but the reason most birders (and it still really is undiscovered) come here is for winter watching of geese, barnacles particularly, and its wildfowl (scaup a speciality!). Read below an extract from Birdwatch magazine extolling the wonders of the birds of the Solway Firth…
Dumfries and Galloway Birding
Welcome to the Dumfries and Galloway Birding website. I hope you find this site interesting. It contains recent sighting of birds throughout the region, sites to visit, trip reports and various other information about birding in Dumfries and Galloway…
The Solway Firth
The Solway Firth can be a wild and sometimes treacherous place, and only recently have people looked on it as a place of quiet contemplation and pleasure. Previously, the firth`s shifting sands and muds were more or less known only to those whose livelihoods depended on them such as the wildfowlers and the fishermen. The poke nets and haaf nets that you can still see catching salmon on the Solway today are unique to these shores and together with the stake nets, have been used by local fishermen for almost a thousand years.