Greylag Goose (Anser anser) : The ancestor of the
domesticated goose, which inherited its cackling and 'aang-aang-aang' honking
in flight. Agricultural development reduced its range to Scotland from its
former eastern England breeding grounds.
Pink-Footed Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus) : Other
species have orange legs and webbed feet, but Pink-footed Geese are as their
name indicates. The back is white and grey, the belly and neck mostly brown-pink,
the head being dull brown. A migrant from Greenland and Iceland, over-wintering
White-Fronted Goose (Anser albifrons) : Dark-bodied
but with a white forehead above the orange beak, this is a winter visitor from
breeding grounds in Greenland and Russia. It feeds in marshes and meadowlands
mainly near the coast.
Bewick's Swan (Cygnus bewickii) : This species
are seen in V-shaped skeins in British winter skies on migration from their
Siberian breeding grounds. Short-necked, with rounded heads and black and
yellow bills, they feed on marshlands seeds and water plants. The rounded
yellow patches on the bill vary from bird to bird.
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus) :Long-necked, almost silent in
flight, these swans are amazingly noisy when in flocks. The odd
trumpeting sound that gives them their name is quite distinctive. The
black beak has an angular yellow patch on it. The birds often seen
grazing in flocks on grassland in winter, but migrate to and from the
Pintail (Anas acuta) : This duck normally only winters in
British lakes and estuaries, but there are some pairs resident in Scotland.
Dark headed, with a white front to the neck and a barred grey back, the male
is quite distinctive. The female is a pale mottled brown.
Common Scoter Duck (Melanitta nigra) : Dark
feathered, the male having a small yellow patch on its bill, this duck has
only a few hundred resident pairs in Scotland, living mainly in moorland on
the shore of lochs. Over-wintering migrants from the Arctic and Sub-Arctic
swell the numbers in winter. Whilst it may live inland, feeding on vegetation,
insects and molluscs, coastal examples prefer a diet of mussels.
Scaup Duck (Aythya marila) : 'Scaup' means 'broken
shells', as this bird feeds chiefly on mussels, diving down to the mussel-beds.
It is another over-wintering visitor from Northern Europe, visiting coastal
marshland and estuary. A few pairs breed on inland lochs and rivers. Scaup
prefer to nest in loose colonies on islands.
Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) : Beautiful birds, with
dark green head, cream body, a chestnut breast-band, two black stripes on the
back and one under the belly. The male's red bill has a knob above the nose
and between the eyes, the female lacking this knob. Most of the year living
in Britain, they moult in autumn in the German and Danish estuaries round the
Heligoland Bight, returning to Britain for the winter. Unusually, they nest
underground in old rabbit-burrows or other hollows, groups of immature chicks
staying in 'nursery groups' under the care of a few adults whilst the other
Teal (Anas crecca) : Smallest member of the duck family. Teal green bar on inside
trailing edge of wings - just barely visible on folded wings. Body brown, streaked, mottled dark, especially
on back as underside paler. Adult male has distinctive grey sides below wing level and a chestnut head with
distinctive backward-pointing green flash round eyes to back of head. Upends when feeding underwater, feeds
also on mud near vegetation. Likes ponds/lakes/marshes with plenty of vegetation for feeding and nesting.
Resident, large flocks on coastal bays and shallow lakes. Some winter migrants from Northern Europe.
Wigeon (Anas penelope) : Resident and winter migrant, breeding on forest lakes
and marshes, shallow lakes and pools. Winters in coastal habitats, lakes and rivers, flocking except when nesting.
Vegetarian grazing bird. Short-necked, large and rounded head, small black-tipped bill and pointed tail. Distinct white
belly-patch in flight. Male underbody greyish, tending to red-brown when moulting, females red-brown underbody, both
sexes back and folding wings black and white.
Shoreline Species :
Oyster Catcher (Haematopus ostralegus) : Orange-red vertically-flattened long
straight bill adapted for finding and opening small shellfish. Brownish-black back, bib and head, white
underbody and pink legs with unwebbed toes. Adults have a white 'chinstrap' in winter. Very loud "Peep!"
call. Tidal shoreline and merse feeder. Communal roosting in winter. Breeds on sandy, pebbly or rocky ground
but has nested on buildiongs and cliffs. Often seen at Carsethorn.
Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula) : Prefers to breed on sand and gravel patches
amongst short grass on sea or lake shores and on open fells and tundra. At other times a shoreline feeder of
small invertebrates in inland waters, estuaries and tidal sands. Compact, full-chested bird with grey back,
white underbody andyellow-orange legs that turn red in the mating season. Short, stubby bill with yellow underbase.
Black 'ring' around neck, widening almost to a bib across chest. Black and grey band from beak round and under
eyes, grey top to white head, but female has a black brow band across head from eye to eye.
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus) : Both sexes have the black double
tufts on the head in the courtship period before breeding. A lakeland bird that migrates to coastal
areas in autumn and winter. Distinctive white face and long neck, dark grey-brown back and paler sides
Small Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis) : Found on lowland fresh
water such as reed-fringed rivers, lochs and marshland. Also called 'Dabchick'. Buff-coloured top and pale
underside, with chestnut throat in summer.
Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) : Diving bird with an appetite for flat
fish and eels. Colonies can number thousands of pairs. Nests mainly on cliffs or by rivers and la
kes, occasionally in trees. Distinguished from its relative the Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) by
its white cheeks and thigh-patches. The Shag is a greenish dark colour and has a short forwards-pointing
quiff of a crest. The Shag also prefers rocky ledges and sea caves for breeding.
Woodland and Field Species :
Nearly 40% of Dumfries and Galloway has forest cover, the majority
being commercial Larch, Spruce, Pine and Fir plantations. These are home
to a variety of woodland species, some of which are listed here. Some take
advantage of clearings near streams and rivers.
Goldcrest (Regulus regulus) : This tiny insect-eater
is found in the coniferous plantations near the tops of the trees. The crest
of the male is orange, the female's being yellow, each framed in a thin black
'moustache' running back from the bill. The back and upper wing feathers are
mostly dull green, the underside a speckled cream buff colour.
Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) : The peculiar bill crosses
like a grapple, a very powerful design that allows this bird to tear open pine
and fir cones to extract seeds. Males are a colorful brick-red with dark wings,
the females beinmg greenish-yellow with dark wings. The Dumfries and Galloway
coniferous plantations are excellent habitats for these birds.
Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) : Nests in tree crowns of lowland deciduous woodland,
conifer plantations and gardens, but mostly winters in southern and western Europe. Effectively
resident in UK, migrating in some cases from northeastern Scotland. Fond of seeding thistles and
burdocks - may feed in groups. Beak pointed, quite long for a finch, ivory coloured, with distinctive white,
black and red markings at front of head around beak and eyes. Back a dun brown, breast pale, wings black
and white with a distinctive bright yellow bar curving rounde from wing-root to midway along forward wing edge.
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris) : Resident in the UK and hardy. Woodland edge, field and
garden breeder and feeder. Nests amongst tree and bush branches. Stout, conical ivory bill. Whole plumage greenish,
shaded towards brown on back and greyish green on underbody. Wings have small yellow 'flash'
folded, but in flight yellow confined to outer forward wing edge. Female plumage less bright than males. More variety in song than its
cousin the Goldfinch.
Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella) : Breeds on farmland, scrubland, woodland edge, heath
and coastal meadow. Resident, but Scandinavian birds migrate for winter to UK. Both birds have yellow-streaked grey
head and pale yellow beak in winter, redbrown stripe along back and pale patch at nape of neck, otherwise pale brown
with hints of yellow. Tail brown, fairly long. Male summer coat bright yellow shade underbody and bright yellow head.
Skylark (Alauda arvensis) : Breeds in open cultivated farmland, meadows and heaths. UK receives
some Scandinavian winter migrants. Brown and off-white with yellow tinges to wings and breast, underbody pale to
white, back and wings fairly brown, trailing wing edge and sides of tail have white edge. Good at hovering and will sing
whilst at 50 - 100 metres, needing care to spot. Song a mix of rolling, chirruping and whistling notes, whilst ascending
and in flight, fades out as it descends to land.
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopus major) : A
common sight and sound in most seasons in plantations and mixed woodland,
particularly where damaged trees are rotting but upstanding.
Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis) : The
'kew-kew-kew' or 'yaffle' of this cider-logo bird is more common sign than
the sight of the bird itself. Bright green and cream with a red cap, it has
been seen in Dalbeattie and Mabie Forests.
Riverside Species :
Dipper (Cinclus cinclus) : Though common in Dumfries and Galloway,
this bird's need for clean fast-moving shallow waters has seen its decline
elsewhere. The brown back, white breast and chestnut belly, make this bird
unmistakable in its habitat. It is unusual in its flying underwater to find
invertebrate food. Regularly breeds in Dalbeattie Burn.
Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis) : No longer as common as it has been,
its jewel-colored turquoise blue-green back and orange chestnut underbelly
are hard to mistake. Riverside nesting bird needing fish-rich water.