Wild goose chasing


Last week – in the build-up to Autumnwatch – Steve and I visited Caerlaverock’s Wetland and Wildfowl Trust centre which is just the other side of Dumfries from McMurdoston. So far there’s little evidence of BBC activity but what is in abundance is goose activity. There are thousands of them there. We saw mostly barnacle geese (up to 30,000 usually arrive at Caerlaverock at this time of year) – looking gorgeous in their black head-scarves – but also numerous different types of duck, including wigeon, teal, shoveler and tufted. We got a good sighting of a hen harrier over the marshes but failed to see the bittern or the snow goose, both of which have excited recent visitors.

Having said all that we have an interesting situation in the local fields. An unusual number have been left for stubble and have attracted the keen attention of – guess what – geese! Thousands of them; so many, in fact, that I could hear their wonderful cacophony over the car engine the other day and raced round the house just in time to see a massive flock fly over us. For the past two evenings I’ve gone up the hill with binoculars and camera to try and capture the sight. So far my limited photography skills have failed to do justice to what is an incredible sight but I can confirm that there are pink-footed, greylag, canada and even the odd barnacle goose up there.What I’ll never be able to capture, but would sorely love to, is that unbelievable sound as they take off. It builds and builds until you could honestly be forgiven for thinking there’s a train coming… yes, there really are that many of them!