John A and I set off for Caerlaverock at 5.30 on Sunday morning we intended to stop at Macedees for a Latte near Denton only to find it covered in scafolding (sob sob). We then had a nice drive apart from a bit of a strong wind arriving at 07.15 but had already seen quite a few Barnacles moving around as we approached the place. A quick walk down to the Observatory watching a marvellous sunrise as we proceeded along the Lonnen.
One of the two aims of the day was to see the Barnacles and by god did we see them, there was thousands and how anyone manages to count them amazes me as some of them are very mobile whilst some feed for quite a while in one place whereas the mobile ones seem to skitter around from one field to another in large groups ranging from 10 to a couple of hundred.
We attended the 11am feed of the Swans although only 2 Whoopers and about 30 Mutes appeared along with quite a mixture of ducks, the highlight of which was this marvellously patterned female Pintail
The "Commentator/Feeder" told us that there were 400 Whoopers just a couple of fields over but hadn't came to the feed in any great numbers (which I had seen on previous visits) due to the availability of food in the fields due to the "un-normal" weather we have seen recently. We did see a huge flock (in the hundreds) from one of the hides later on in the day. There was 250-300 assorted birds on the pond including about 20 Greylags which arrived just on time for the start of the feed but took no part (no White Fronted unfortunately as it seems like they are all over in Northumberland)
We went to the Teal Hide and just got settled in and chatting to a couple who were staying in the cottage on the reserve for a couple of days (they were from Long Horsley) when a Sparrowhawk flew past carrying what looked like a mammal in its grip (do they catch mammals ?). From the hide we saw Several Shoveller, Tons of Teal, Waddles of Wigeon, Many Mutes, Many Mallard, a Gorgeous Godwit, Gaggles of Gadwalls, Bountiful Barnacle then another Sparrowhawk came over and the birds came off the water and the scrapes in sections which no camera could capture although Barnies and Mutes just looked on with an air of indolence.
A wander round the reserve visiting the tucked away spots produced Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, a couple of Linnet (although one of the wardens said there was a flock of over 100)goldfinch, a couple of Treecreepers, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wrens and the various Tits and Finches in quite large numbers.
We then left at 14.30 for our 2nd aim of the day (can anyone guess)