Winter Guests-Caerlaverock

Filed in Workshops on Jan.21, 2013

I’ve just spent two days at Caerlaverock Wetland Centre, a spectacular 1,400 acre wild reserve situated on the north Solway coast of Scotland with clients. During our winter months this area becomes home to the whole Svalbard breeding population of Barnacle Geese, where some of the best views of this great wildlife spectacle can be seen from the hides within this beautiful place on the North West coast of the UK. On one of the morning we were treating to the most amazing sunrise where twenty minute or so before the sun actually came up the sky was turn bright red. The warm air meeting the cold air resulting in a beautiful dawn.

As the sun slowly started to rise the numbers of Barnacle Geese and Whooper Swans traveling from their overnight roost sites started to increase. First in ones and twos then vast lines of birds started coming overhead and traveling inland. The spectacular is full of action, and full of noise.  I was trying to capture their formations as they flew in, inches apart from disaster should they touch each other in flight. I wanted to convey the organized manner in which they fly so close together in flight.

Watching how they made their approach into their roost and we tried where possible to get level with them so you got the impression you were level and flying alongside them. One of the key cheap cialis online things I tell clients is the need to get to know your subject and how they move, how and where they live, all key factors to getting that all important photograph. Mother Nature gives clues to us and I show people how to read those clues and get close without impacting on their lives and in turn making for better ‘Wildlife Photography’

The weather was a mixture of cloudy and sunny weather where both days the temperature struggled to pass freezing point, the pools that the birds use to drink from were frozen and many of the Geese were using neighboring fields to feed from, the centre has two daily feeds. They feed the Whooper Swans and the many other species of birds with a supplement feed consisting of grain, seeds and potatoes.

Whooper Swans spend their time here during our winter months before migrating back to their breeding areas which range from Iceland to NE Siberia, they depart from their breeding areas in September and reach wintering areas by November leaving the wintering area, ie UK, in mid-March for a May return.

Whooper swans are highly vocal, with bugling calls, these are used during aggressive encounters, with softer “contact” noises used as communication between paired birds and families. Calls accompanying pre-flight head-bobbing are also important for maintaining pair and family bonds. Several types of threat display are seen in winter to establish the dominance hierarchy in the wintering flock, ranging from head-low threats and pecks to more dramatic neck-stretching and wing-flapping displays, resulting occasionally in physical combat.

It was a great two days with lots of good sightings of Barnacle Geese, and Whooper Swans for my clients. We had to travel a little away from the centre to catch up with them but were rewarded with a few shots of them feeding in the nearby fields before heading off to their over night roost sites on the Solway. I will be returning next January to run the same two day workshop with more details on my website soon. Many thanks to my clients over the two days, thank you for your company and I wish you all the best with your wildlife photography, many thanks.

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