Headline photo

Headline photo
Rockcliffe and Kippford from South Glen Brae: Ed Iglehart [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Introductory text

Kippford and Rockcliffe are on the East Stewartry Coast, an unspoilt National Scenic Area with two other NSAs in close proximity. It is in Dumfries & Galloway, South West Scotland, a region known for it's wonderful scenery, biodiversity, turbulent history, smugglers and black and white 'belted' cattle known as Galloway Belties. This stretch of coastline has many names. Known locally as the Colvend Coast or the 'Secret Coast' (due to the peace and tranquility) it is often referred to as the 'Scottish Riviera' due to it being the holiday resort of choice for Victorian millionaires and having a Gulf Stream influenced microclimate: evidenced by palm trees in some gardens. Castle Douglas, the food town is a short drive away and Kirkcudbright, the Artists Town is over the next headland.

This a scenic and unique part of the world and we started the blog to share the experience of living in this wonderful place. We hope that it will be of interest to others who live here and give those planning to visit the area a taste of all it has to offer.

The blog has a correspondent in both Kippford and Rockcliffe village, you can also follow their Twitter feeds on the right of the page. If you would like to get involved we look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, 19 February 2012

A chilled Chablis of a day...

It was such a beautiful day we just could not resist getting up and getting out. Visibility was superb, the sun bright, the sky a cerulean blue and the air intoxicating. It was a morning as crisp, clear and bursting with flavour as a glass of chilled Chablis - every sight, sound and scent, fresh, vivid and clear. Paradoxically, it was what I think of as the perfect Autumn day.

8.30am saw us at the RSPB Mersehead Reserve at Southwick. The Visitor Centre (a converted traditional, whitewashed Galloway cottage) looked pretty as a postcard in the morning sun.
We decided to head East for a change as the sun was still so high. (Later in the day it's better to set off West) Despite the sun, last nights' frost spangled the grass and made artwork of the puddles as we strode out along the lane towards the Sulwath centre and the two hides. (It was a day made for striding - Brisk and invigorating).
Recent hedge trimming had revealed the remains of a last years Long Tailed Tit nest along the lane, there is a healthy population of them around here and I love it when around 12 - 15 all try to get on the same fatball. It always makes me laugh as it looks like some outlandish Xmas tree decoration.

We decided to visit Meida hide as you can usually spot Deer to the East of the wetland area in front of it so set off through the woodland. Unfortunately we didn't see the Treecreper who is usually about (maybe he was having a lie in?)

From the point when we left the car we had Barnacle Geese flying sporadically overhead. Their distinctive calls, described by some as like a dog barking, punctuating the whole 2 hour walk. Large numbers of the Svalbard population arrive at Mersehead in the Autumn and can be seen grazing the wet areas in densely packed flocks throughout the Winter months. I am always sad to see them go. There are 9,000 Barnacle Geese this year, a lower number than last year but still a fantastic spectacle. Not to be missed.   
After 20 mins in Meida Hide where we spotted all the usual suspects (waterfowl) we then went out onto the beach, Murphy's favourite place. Being a stick hound he loves the wide open space where he can chase sticks to his hearts content. The view was amazing. The East Stewartry Coast from Southwick along to Castle Point at Rockcliffe at the end of the long sandy beach. The dunes are very special and protected along with the rest of this coastline which is designated as a SSSI and a National Scenic Area.
Our bird list this morning included Barnacle Geese, Curlews, Phesant, Pink Footed geese, Chaffinch, Green Finches, Yellow Hammer, Snipe, Mallard, Widgeon, Teal, Pintail, Coot, Gadwall, Mute Swans, Lapwing, Skylarks to name a few.  It was a fantastic walk, one I will not forget. You can see the route here:
You can do the circuit in about an hour but today we lingered and savored the day. At the Visitor Centre you can get Fairtrade coffee and tea and Chocolate Muffins and Brownies to go with it or even a tub of delicious Cream O' Galloway ice cream. There are a couple of big squadgy sofas where you can sit in the sunshine and watch the birds on the feeders or borrow Binis' to look out over the Lapwing nesting area. The team of permanent and volunteer staff on the reserve are always on hand and are a great bunch of people. They do a fantastic job so a big thank you to them for all their hard work.

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