Wild Goose Festival welcomes return of up to 30,000 barnacle geese to Caerlaverock Wetland Centre

Thousands of barnacle geese are returning to their winter home at the Caerlaverock Wetland Centre this week when the nature reserve will once again hold their annual Wild Goose Festival.

Up to 30,000 birds will flock to the reserve after travelling 2000 miles from their summer home in Svalbard, north of the Arctic Circle.

When the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust site first opened in 1971, goose numbers were less than 4,000.

David Pickett, WWT’s Site Manager, said: “A dawn goose roost walk is in an ideal way to celebrate 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 thousands of birds, sunrise and a hot drink in the visitor centre afterwards – what’s not to like?”

Anna Barlow, WWT Caerlaverock Visitor Experience Officer, described the experience of seeing and hearing thousands of birds as 'magical.' Credit: ITV

The geese have already been spotted on the salt marshes at the Solway Firth and are returning alongside whooper swans and other wildfowl. WWT Caerlaverock also has the most northerly UK population of natterjack toads and one of only two UK populations of tadpole shrimps.  

Anna Barlow, Visitor Experience Officer at WWT Caerlaverock, said: “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.” 

The Wild Goose Festival is hosting a range of activities from the 19-29 October, including creative workshops; interactive performances; film screenings; stargazing; literary events; lectures and opportunities to see the area’s visiting wildlife in their natural habitats.

The Wild Goose Festival is from 19-29 October and visitors will also see whooper swans and other wildfowl. Credit: ITV / Caerlaverock

Graham Rooney is the lead producer of the festival and described the " really special event" as a "true celebration of nature, creativity and place."

He added: "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.” 

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