WSRS Autumn/Winter 2005 Field Meeting

Barncrosh, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

Red Kite Flying
photo: Robert Malpas

Listen
to Alan Burbidge's recording of the Barnacle Geese at Barncrosh. (1.4MB)

The Autumn field meeting was held at Barncrosh, in picturesque Dumfries and Galloway, over the period Friday 25th November to Monday 28th November. The accommodation was excellent and the trip proved to be a great success. The star attraction of the weekend was the Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis), wintering in their thousands in the area.

Barncrosh is within easy reach of the RSPB Mersehead reserve, a traditional wintering site for the geese. The reserve is situated on the northern shore of the Solway and covers areas of farmland, wet meadows, saltmarsh and mudflats[1] . The barnacles fly in at dawn to spend the day feeding, forming large noisy flocks, before departing at dusk to their roosting sites out on the mudflats. This means there are opportunities throughout the day for the sound recordist.

Barnacle Goose Landing
photo: Robert Malpas

The problem for the wildlife sound recordist is often one of finding the subject in the first place, wildlife having an uncanny ability to prove elusive to the recordist with microphone at the ready.

Recording from the cover of the reserve's hide or hedges were the only options. Parabolas pointing at them from every direction, the geese positioned themselves in the middle of the field, a bit further away from my open microphones than I would have liked.

It was a stunning sight, as the flock of silhouettes made their way out over the Solway, their yapping calls gracefully fading into the distance. Barnacle geese are not the only attraction in Dumfries and Galloway. The Red Kite has been re-established in the area and is evidently thriving. The Galloway Kite Trail is a circular route around Loch Ken, and we saw numerous birds whilst in the area..

The WSRS field meetings provide a great opportunity to make some excellent recordings. it's important to remember that the field meetings are not just about getting recordings. They are a rare opportunity to get together with other wildlife sound recordists. It was a great opportunity to discuss the future of the WSRS, and for the society's officers to get a feel for what members want from the society. It was also a chance to talk 'shop', safe in the knowledge that given the company of enthusiastic sound recordists and naturalists nobody's eyes would be rolling back into their sockets.

I gained a great deal from the Barncrosh field meeting and it's clear that these events are important both for members and the society as a whole. I'd like to thank the organisers once again for doing such a great job. I look forward to seeing everyone at the Ennerdale meeting in June.

Chris Scott

A fuller report will be published in the Spring 2006 Journal

Barnacle Geese feeding
photo: Robert Malpas

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  1. http://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/guide/m/mersehead/index.asp

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