South Scotland

Wild geese and waders caught on camera at Scotland's reserves

Barnacle Geese Image copyright Lorne Gill
Image caption Tens of thousands of barnacle geese winter in south west Scotland

A series of images has captured the sight of wild geese and waders flocking to locations across Scotland.

The photographs were taken at Scottish Natural Heritage reserves at Forvie, Loch Leven and Caerlaverock.

Barwit at Forvie Image copyright Ron Macdonald
Image caption Waders like the barwit can be spotted at Forvie

They illustrate the mass migration of wild birds from Iceland, Greenland and the Norwegian archipelago Svalbard which takes place each year.

SNH head of nature reserves Stuart MacQuarrie said watching a flock of geese lift off was "one of Scotland's greatest wildlife spectacles".

Geese at Caerlaverock Image copyright Lorne Gill
Image caption Watching the geese lift off has been described as a "remarkable aerial display"

"It's such a remarkable aerial display, made even better by the chorus of their high-pitched calls," he said.

"These amazing birds migrate as far as 3,400 miles to reach Scotland for their winter feeding, before returning to more northern climes in the spring."

Dunlin at Forvie Image copyright Ron Macdonald
Image caption Many of the birds migrate thousands of miles

At Loch Leven, October sees a mass migration of pink-footed geese from Iceland with as many as 20,000 to 25,000 geese at peak times - nearly 10% of the global population.

Further north, at Forvie, about 5,500 waders - including 12 different species - can be seen on the Ythan estuary in autumn.

Pink footed goose at Loch Leven Image copyright Lorne Gill
Image caption Reserves across Scotland are home to the migratory birds

In Dumfries and Galloway, the entire Svalbard population of 40,000 barnacle geese stay on the Caerlaverock reserve for the whole winter.

It also hosts about 35,000 pink-footed geese on their way south.

Pink footed geese at Loch Leven Image copyright Lorne Gill
Image caption Thousands of pink-footed geese come to Loch Leven from Iceland

Numbers peak again in January as many of those birds return on their journey back north.

All images are copyrighted.

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