We celebrated our annual Visible Migration Festival last weekend. Previous visible migration studies at the Mull of Galloway have recorded thousands of birds travelling through the reserve. The maritime heath offers plenty of insects for migrating birds whilst the cluster of willows behind our visitor centre provides a place to shelter and rest those weary wings. An Easterly wind helps to push migrating birds onto the Rhinns and then they begin to make their way South. Unfortunately during our festival the wind was blowing from the South- not good conditions for migrating. Nevertheless there were good numbers of birds lingering around on the reserve, under the watchful eye of our local Peregrine (see http://www.trektellen.nl/count/view/851/20160910 for full count). 

On Saturday the gentle winds and warm weather allowed for some bird ringing. Under strict licence from the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) bird ringers set up some nets and caught over 50 birds! They placed small metal rings around one of the legs, each containing a unique number. These are lightweight and do not affect the bird- similar to a person wearing a ring or a watch. These rings act as a passport, informing scientists of bird movements when they are caught again.

Bird ringing demonstration at the RSPB Mull of Galloway (photo Laura Shearer) 

Aiden (6) listening intently about bird ringing techniques

Meadow Pipit on migration (photo Laura Shearer)

Male Twite caught and ringed- showing pink rump (photo Laura Shearer)

Mid afternoon RSPB Area Reserves Manager for Dumfries and Galloway, Andrew Beilinski, gave an enthralling talk about migration, highlighting the importance of the Mull of Galloway on migration routes. As birds travel South to their winter grounds, it is inevitable that thousands will pass through Scotlands Southernmost Point! 

Migration talk in RSPB Mull of Galloway visitor centre (photo Laura Shearer)

The most exciting part about migration at the Mull of Galloway- you never know what you may see!