Dumfries & Galloway
Dumfries and Galloway is one of 32 unitary council areas of Scotland and is located in the western Southern Uplands. It comprises the historic counties of Dumfriesshire, Stewartry of Kirkcudbright and Wigtownshire, the latter two of which are collectively known as Galloway. The administrative centre is the town of Dumfries. To the north, Dumfries and Galloway borders East Ayrshire, South Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire; in the east the Borders; and to the south the county of Cumbria in England and the Solway Firth. To the west lies the Irish Sea.
Dumfries & Galloway is well known for the spectacle of over-wintering wildfowl along the shores of the inner Solway Firth. 70,000 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 (Mull of Galloway RSPB) and overwintering birds at Loch Ryan & Luce Bay. 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 (Crook of Baldoon RSPB). 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.
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 including sea ducks 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, 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.
Gairland, Old Edinburgh Road, Minnigaff, Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, DG8 6PL
Number of Species
Number of bird species: 319 (+ 32 escapees)
Fieldguides & Other Birding Books
For a full list of fieldguides and other books see the general UK page
Best Birdwatching Sites: The Solway: Cumbria/Dumfries and Galloway
by John Miles | Buckingham Press | 2010 | Paperback | 240 pages, maps |
ISBN: 9780955033933Buy this book from NHBS.com
Where to Watch Birds in Scotland
by Mike Madders & Julia Welstead | Christopher Helm | 2002 | Paperback | 297 pages, b/w illus, maps |
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
Mersehead Moorhens RSPB Wildlife Explorers
Join the Mersehead Moorhens for loads of wildlife fun around this coastal reserve with its own working farm. Most suitable for children aged 8-12, under 8's welcome but should be accompanied by an adult. Contact: Sherrie Bintein 01313174177 email@example.com
RSPB Galloway Local Group
This is the website of the Galloway Local Group. RSPB local groups are a great way to meet friendly, like-minded people in your area while learning more about birds and wildlife.
SOC Dumfries Local Group
Venue: Cumberland St Day Centre, Dumfries (off Brooms Rd Car Park), DG1 2JX. Contact: Lesley Creamer, Braeside, Virginhall, Thornhill, DG3 4AD, 01848 330821
SOC Galloway Local Group
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 Stewarty Local Group
Venue: Kells School, New Galloway, DG7 3RU Contact: Joan Howie 01644 420 280
SOC West Galloway Local Group
Venue: Stranraer Library, North Strand Street, Stranraer, DG9 7LD Contact: Geoff Sheppard 01776 870 685
BFT Carrifran Wildwood
The 1500 acre valley in the Moffat Hills was bought through the hard work of a dedicated team of volunteers and the help of many generous supporters. On 1st January 2000 the purchase was completed, entry to the land gained and the first tree was planted at Carrifran. Since then over 600,000 native trees, all from local provenance stock, have been planted in the valley.
Corehead is a 1,580 acre (640 hectare) hill farm in the Southern Uplands, Dumfries & Galloway. The iconic Devil’s Beef Tub, Hart Fell Shoulder and the source of the River Annan sit within its boundaries. The Devil’s Beef Tub, a cavernous hollow in the hills where the notorious Border Reivers once hid their stolen cattle, is one of the most iconic landmarks in the South of Scotland.
FC Dalbeattie Forest
Dalbeattie forest is one of the most important sites in Dumfries and Galloway for nightjar…
FC Galloway Forest Park
Galloway Forest Park is a paradise for wildlife watchers. Its a colourful place - look out for red squirrels amongst the trees, red deer silhouetted on the skyline and golden eagles soaring overhead. There is even a viewing platform for black grouse beside the Carrick Forest Drive.
FC 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…
NT Grey Mare's Tail Nature Reserve
Grey Mare’s Tail is a superb example of a hanging valley and is important for its rare upland plants and wildlife. The area boasts a rich human history as well, dating back to at least the Iron Age. It has strong links to the 17th-century Covenanters, who used Watch Knowe as a lookout point in the valley to keep an eye out for government troops.
NTS Threave (Blackpark Marsh)
During winter flooding the marshes can attract large numbers of waterfowl including Greenland White-fronted Geese, also good area for raptors, deer, otter. In summer breeding Osprey and Peregrines.
RSPB Crook of Baldoon
(SW side of Wigtown Bay) The Crook of Baldoon is a coastal reserve of 196 hectares lying within Wigtown Bay. Since buying the reserve, the RSPB has restored farmland and a willow crop to wet grassland. This provides a breeding habitat for lapwing and redshank, as well as increasing the richness of other wildlife. Saltmarsh, grazed fields, lagoons and extensive mudflats. An intergral part of Wigtown Bay important for wintering Pinkfooted Geese, Barnacle Geese and Whooper Swans (Dec-May) best viewed after the shooting season (21st Feb onwards) when they become more settled. Migrant and wintering waders.
RSPB Ken-Dee Marshes
In spring, migrant redstarts and pied flycatchers join the resident woodland birds, Greenland White-fronted Geese in winter and resident Red Kites
It is important for wintering wildfowl including barnacle geese, teals, wigeons and pintails…
RSPB 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 Wood of Cree
In spring, the wood is alive with the sound of bird song, as the resident birds are joined by Common Redstarts, Pied Flycatchers, Wood Warblers and Garden Warblers from Africa…
SWT Blackcraig Wood
Blackcraig Wood is a rich woodland of oak, birch, ash and wych elm clinging to a sea cliff. Buzzards soar overhead and the oak canopy supports the elusive purple hairstreak butterfly. In spring, bluebells, ivy and great wood-rush carpet the ground beneath hazel, rowan, holly and hawthorn.
SWT Carsegowan Moss
Carsegowan Moss is one of the best examples of a lowland raised peat bog in Galloway. Cranberry and bog rosemary grow in the Sphagnum carpet; the large heath butterfly lives here and adders bask in the heather. Hen harriers, merlins, short-eared owls and barn owls can be seen occasionally hunting across the bog.
SWT Carstramon Wood
Carstramon Wood is one of the largest semi-natural broadleaved woodlands in the area. The oak trees were once used for making charcoal and supplying the local mill with bobbins. Nowadays, the trees provide lush conditions for ferns and lichens and breathtaking bluebells in spring.
SWT Drummains Reedbed
Coastal reedbed, saltmarsh and mudflats with wildfowl and waders on the Solway Firth. The reserve is part of the Solway Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Special Area of Conservation (SAC).
SWT Fountainbleau Ladypark
Situated on the site of the old Black Loch and within walking distance of Dumfries, Fountainbleau Ladypark is a low-lying wet birchwood. The reserve is a haven for birds, including woodpeckers, willow tit, willow warbler and teal, which visit during winter.
SWT Knowetop Lochs
Knowetop Lochs is a small, diverse upland reserve. Two small lochs are separated by a ridge of birch woodland fringed by reed-swamp, bog and willow scrub, with areas of wet and dry heath. Much of the reserve is marshy with willow thickets and conifer shelter belts are slowly being converted to broadleaved woodland.
SWT Southwick Coast
Southwick Coast is a stretch of coastline with wooded cliffs and extensive saltmarsh. A viewpoint in the meadow provides breathtaking views over Mersehead and the Solway. A path leads through the Needle’s Eye, a natural wave-cut arch, to the saltmarsh.
SWT Stenhouse Wood
Stenhouse Wood is an ancient deciduous woodland of ash, wych elm and oak lining the side of Shinnel Glen. The ground flora includes mosses, lichens and wildflowers. The unusual white flowers of toothwort, which grows on the roots of hazel and elm, are visible in spring.
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 & Galloway Wildlife & Birding
For all those interested in the wildlife of this beautiful Scottish county. Report sightings and provide links to related sites.
Dumfries and Galloway Birding
Dumfries and Galloway Birding is a Yahoo Group set up for the sharing of bird news within Dumfries & Galloway. News of both common and rare birds is welcomed.
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 [03 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…
2010 [05 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…
2010 [06 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…
2015 [03 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
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.
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
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…