Dumfries & Galloway

Willow Tit Poecile montanus ©Gavin Chambers

Dumfries & Galloway recording area covers the area of Dumfries and Galloway unitary council  located in the western Southern Uplands of Scotland. It comprises the historic counties of Dumfriesshire, Stewartry of Kirkcudbright and Wigtownshire, the latter two of which are collectively known as Galloway, which correspond to the old vice-counties numbered 72, 73 & 74. The administrative centre is the town of Dumfries.

To the north, Dumfries and Galloway borders Ayrshire and Clyde; to the east the Borders; and to the south the county of Cumbria in England and the Solway Firth. To the south and west lies the Irish Sea.

Birding Dumfries and Galloway

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.

Wigtownshire – 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 Machars – The best birdwatching in this area is along the rocky coastline and the mudflats and salt-marshes 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 (that are seen during spring passage).

Inland Dumfriesshire – 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.

Top Sites
  • LNR Castle Loch

    Satellite View
    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.
  • Loch Ryan

    Satellite View
    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.
  • Other Sites

    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, Ken 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.
  • RSPB Mersehead Farm

    Satellite View
    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.
  • RSPB Mull of Galloway

    Satellite View
    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 passing shearwaters. Occasional breeding twite. Facilities: Visitor Centre, information boards and footpaths. Directions: A716 to Drummore then follow signposts on minor roads.
  • WWT Caerlaverock

    Satellite View
    Habitats: Farmland & Ponds managed for Wildlife (+ nearby NNR Reserve Saltmarsh & Mudflats). Summer meadows.Birds: Internationally important wintering Svalbard Barnacle geese. Ducks, Whooper Swans, waders, peregrine, merlin, hen harrier, short-eared owl, breeding barn owl. It is also good for farmland species such as Tree Sparrow and Yellowhammers. 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.
  • Paul Collin

County Recorder
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 327

Useful Reading

  • Best Birdwatching Sites: The Solway: Cumbria/Dumfries and Galloway

    | By John Miles | Buckingham Press | 2010 | Paperback | 240 pages, maps | ISBN: 9780955033933 Buy this book from NHBS.com
  • Where to Watch Birds in Scotland

    | By Mike Madders & Julia Welstead | Christopher Helm | 2002 | Paperback | 297 pages, b/w illustrations, maps | ISBN: 9780713656930 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Birding Aps
  • Where to Watch Birds in Scotland

    Apple iOS | Android
    This app will help beginners and experts alike to discover hundreds of the best places to see and enjoy birds around the country.

    Where to Watch Birds in Scotland, the Scottish Ornithologists' Club's free mobile app for Apple and Android devices, now has over 580 sites. New sites will continue to be added and existing ones updated as far as possible. The app launched in April 2019 and since then has been downloaded by more than 15,000 users and amassed over 750,000 site views. It won 'Product of the Year' in Birdwatch and BirdGuides' 2019 Birders' Choice Awards, and the BTO/Marsh Award for Local Ornithology 2020.
Useful Information
  • Dumfries & Galloway Birding Guide

    Dumfries & Galloway is renowned for the birdwatching opportunities provided along the shores of the inner Solway Firth – and rightly so. The Solway is one of the most important estuaries in Britain holding up to 40,000 wildfowl and 83,000 waders during winter...
  • Dumfries and Galloway Bird Report

    Available from: Peter Swan, 13, Robb Place, Castle Douglas DG7 1LW pandmswan@btinternet.com, 01556 502 144. Please make cheques payable to ‘SOC Dumfries and Galloway Branches”. Copies (priced at £8) are also available to collect, by prior arrangement, from Peter or from Joan Howie (New Galloway, Tel. 01644 420 280), Brian Smith (Dalbeattie, Tel. 01556 620617) or Drew Davidson (Lockerbie, Tel. 01576 202591/07906 912558).
  • 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 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
  • SWT Dumfries and Galloway Group

    The Scottish Wildlife Trust Dumfries and Galloway Group has 500 members throughout Dumfries and Galloway in southwest Scotland.

Abbreviations Key

  • BFT Carrifran Wildwood

    WebsiteSatellite View
    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.
  • BFT Corehead

    WebpageSatellite View
    Borders Forest Trust acquired Corehead & Devil's Beef Tub in 2009. The vision is for a community-engaged, sustainable project integrating the restoration of native woodlands, wetlands and heathlands.
  • BFT Talla & Gameshope

    WebpageSatellite View
    There are two main valleys, Talla and Gameshope. Gameshope valley has similar characteristics to a Highland glen, with steep rugged slopes and crags, while Talla is more rolling glacial features. The property adjoins Carrifran Wildwood, which is to the south, with the nearest part of Corehead just over a mile to the west.
  • FC Dalbeattie Forest

    WebpageSatellite View
    Dalbeattie forest is one of the most important sites in Dumfries and Galloway for nightjar…
  • FC Galloway Forest Park

    WebpageSatellite View
    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

    WebpageSatellite View
    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…
  • LNR Tarras Valley

    WebpageSatellite View
    A story of hope, community and a powerful symbol of what can be achieved when we come together. Following two epic community land-buy-outs, helped by thousands of people from all walks of life, against impossible odds, the community of Langholm now own 10,500 acres of the stunning Tarras Valley. We are now creating the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve which is one of the biggest projects of its kind in the UK for people, nature and climate.
  • NTS Grey Mare's Tail Nature Reserve

    WebpageSatellite View
    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)

    WebpageSatellite View
    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

    WebpageSatellite View
    (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

    WebpageSatellite View
    In spring, migrant redstarts and pied flycatchers join the resident woodland birds, such as Willow Tits,Greenland White-fronted Geese in winter and resident Red Kites
  • RSPB Mersehead

    WebpageSatellite View
    It is important for wintering wildfowl including barnacle geese, teals, wigeons and pintails…
  • RSPB Mull of Galloway

    WebpageSatellite View
    The cliffs are home to thousands of breeding birds, including razorbills, and guillemots. uffins are summer visitors. 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

    WebpageSatellite View
    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

    WebpageSatellite View
    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

    WebpageSatellite View
    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

    WebpageSatellite View
    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

    WebpageSatellite View
    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

    WebpageSatellite View
    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

    WebpageSatellite View
    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

    WebpageSatellite View
    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

    WebpageSatellite View
    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.
  • WWT Caelaverock

    WebpageSatellite View
    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.
Sightings, News & Forums
  • D&G Bird News Mailing Group

    Mailing Group
    Bird sightings & birdwatching information for Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿. Use the SUBMIT A SIGHTING button below or go to the hidden side-bar menu link (≡) top left of screen to 'Submit a Sighting'. 😎Thank you😎 © D+G Bird News (DGBN)
  • Dumfries & Galloway Wildlife & Birding

    Facebook Page
    For all those interested in the wildlife of this beautiful Scottish county. Report sightings and get help with identification.
Guides & Tour Operators
  • Naturetrek - The Winter Birds of Dumfries & Galloway

    Tour Code: GBR66An exciting 5-day tour to Dumfries and Galloway, including time enjoying the wildfowl and waders that overwinter on the Solway Firth, as well as roosting Hen Harriers and a visit to a nearby Red Kite feeding station.
Trip Reports
  • 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.
  • 2019 [11 November] - naturetrek

    PDF Report
    Due to its central position in the UK, Dumfries & Galloway is home to the northernmost of southern species and the southernmost of northern species of a whole range of biodiversity, including several birds. The Solway Firth, Wigtown Bay and Loch Ryan are renowned for their wintering waterfowl, while the mosaic of farmland and low-lying moorland attract a range of raptors in winter, including Hen Harriers. Blessed with dry weather, the group enjoyed a wonderful few days birding that delivered a total of 96 species.
Places to Stay
  • 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
  • Stumbling down the road distracted by birds…

    ...over the border in WEngland but relevant trips at times

Fatbirder - linking birders worldwide... Wildlife Travellers see our sister site: WAND

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