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EDITIONS
 Saturday, 28 December, 2002, 09:34 GMT
Rare birds flock to reserve
Oystercatchers
Oystercatchers have kept the reserve busy
A Scottish bird reserve has received a record influx of one distinctive winter visitor, conservationists have revealed.

RSPB Scotland's Mersehead Reserve in Dumfries and Galloway has proved a popular destination for thousands of oystercatchers.

Although regular winter visitors to the Solway Firth reserve, the birds number more than 4,000 this year - the highest-ever recorded.

They are a distinctive species with white and black plumage, and carrot-orange beaks.

It's such an amazing sight to see thousands of birds in any one place, no matter the species

Dave Fairlamb
RSPB

The sight of nearly 10,000 wintering barnacle geese has also provided nature lovers with an amazing spectacle.

The geese have flocked to the reserve in record numbers as they returned from their breeding grounds on the Norwegian island of Svalbard in the Arctic.

RSPB Scotland's Dave Fairlamb said: "It's such an amazing sight to see thousands of birds in any one place, no matter the species.

"The reserve is teeming with birds but we are having a special winter with the oystercatchers and barnacle geese."

Barnacle geese are winter visitors to several parts of Scotland, with different "races" flying in from breeding grounds in Greenland.

See also:

14 May 02 | England
11 May 02 | Wales
24 Jan 02 | England
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