All eyes to the Solway skies

THE anticipated return of one of Scotland’s most mesmerising migration miracles is underway as the residents of Dumfries and Galloway prepare to welcome thousands of barnacle geese back to their winter wetland home.

Taking advantage of the expanse of salt marshes at the Solway Firth, these stars of the skies have begun to make their way back to South West Scotland, treating locals and visitors of WWT Caerlaverock and the wider area to one of the most arresting nature spectacles of autumn.

To celebrate the arrival of the beloved barnacles and other species including whooper swans and other wildfowl, WWT has once again joined up multiple partners to take part in the ten-day Wild Goose Festival which sees a series of nature-themed events taking paces across the region.

One of the festival’s highlights is hosted by WWT Caerlaverock when it opens early for two Dawn Flight events to give visitors the chance to witness the sensory spectacle of thousands of geese filling the skies and making a daily pilgrimage to feed on the rich and plentiful grazing fields.

David Pickett, WWT’s Site Manager, said: “A dawn goose roost walk in an ideal way to celebrate with the WWT the huge conservation success of the recovery of the Svalbard barnacle goose population. An early morning on the edge of the wild saltmarsh, a spectacle of 1000’s of birds, sunrise and a hot drink in the visitor centre afterwards – what’s not to like?”

When the site launched in 1971 the barnacle goose numbers were less than 4,000 but with dedicated conservation work up to 30,000 birds have been known to flock to the reserve, travelling 2000 miles from their summer home in Svalbard, north of the Arctic Circle.

Anna Barlow, Visitor Experience Officer at WWT Caerlaverock, said: “The Dawn Flight events are an amazing opportunity to see one of nature’s most amazing sights. It’s hard to explain just how magical it is to see and hear thousands of birds above you and watch them coming down into the reserve after spending the night on the Solway mudflats. It’s definitely something you need to experience to really appreciate its beauty.”

Along with WWT’s Dawn Flight specials on October 22nd and 28th, the Wild Goose Festival is running a host of activities from the 19th-29th including creative workshops, interactive performances, film screenings, stargazing, literary events, lectures, and opportunities for see the area’s visiting wildlife in their natural habitats.



Graham Rooney, Lead Producer of Wild Goose Festival comments,

“Wild Goose Festival is a really special event, a true celebration of nature, creativity and place. Not only does it unite so many different partners from across the region, highlighting the unique natural recourses that Dumfries & Galloway has, but it also encourages new audiences to engage, learn and interact with the natural world in new, innovative and creativity ways.”


For more information on how to see the early morning spectacle and events programme at WWT Caerlaverock visit https://www.wwt.org.uk/wetland-centres/caerlaverock/whats-on/wild-goose-festival