It's wilder than you might think.

About Us

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As members of the National Trust for Scotland Dumfries and Galloway Countryside Team, we manage properties across Dumfries and Galloway, including Threave Estate and Nature Reserve; Rockcliffe Property; Venniehill; The Murray's Isles and Bruce's Stone. Our task is to conserve and maintain the variety of habitats and species present, at the same time managing the sites for the education and enjoyment of current and future generations.

31 May 2012

Osprey Update 31/05:

Down at the opsrey nest there seems to be some positive signs. The opsreys appear to be showing behaviour indicative of incubation of an egg. The opsreys have been seen to be constantly sitting on the nest, which hopefully means we have some eggs in there. Luckily within a month or two we will see some little opsrey faces poking their beaks out of the nest.

Murray's Isles Survey:

Last week we undertook a seabird survey of the Murray's Isles in Wigtown Bay. We were very lucky to have some glorious weather and calm seas. The results of the survey will be compared to previous surveys and help us to monitor the population trends of the seabirds on the islands. We would also like to thank the North Solway Ringing Group for the use of their boat and hepling with the survey. 

Mobile Home (Update): 

The chicks from the pied wagtail nest located on top of the engine of our tractor have successfully fledged. They have been seen exploring around the buildings at Kelton Mains. In future maybe we should forget about putting up nest boxes and just park tractors everywhere. 

29 May 2012

Investigation leads to a pleasant and unpleasant surprise:

Whilst investigating reports of a cattle escape along part of the estate walk I was lucky to come across a group of recently fledged nuthatch juveniles who were busy testing their new flying and foraging techniques. I was somewhat less lucky to discover that 40 cattle had rampaged through the woodland and trampled the woodland flora and left a bit of a mess on the path. I'm sure the cattle enjoyed themselves thoroughly but the bluebells are not so grateful. Luckily the cattle were all found, but this highlights the importance of shutting gates when walking. 

24 May 2012

A short tail about voles:

A chance discovery whilst moving old timbers on the reserve around the old farm buildings, much to the shock of the female short tailed field vole, was the intricately constructed nest of grass belonging to Mrs Vole.

Osprey Update 24/05:

This last week has given us some glorious weather along with some interesting happenings down at the osprey platform.
The female osprey which arrived on the 11th May has been seen to be ringed with a blue ring. This means that she is not the same female as previous years and is in fact a bird who was originally hatched from one of the nests in Dumfries & Galloway. The identification on the ring has not been seen as yet, but hopefully soon we will get a good look at the ring and be able to work out which nest she has come from.
The male has been seen bringing fish to the female and mating along with other pair bonding behaviour. However, there does not appear to be any eggs yet as there has been no behaviour to indicate that eggs are being incubated.
To make things a little more interesting a third bird has been seen around the nest. It is thought that it is likely to be another female bird as the male would have shown much more aggressive behaviour if it had been another male. We are unsure yet if the third bird is ringed but hopefully we may get a closer look if she stays around.
There is still a lot that could happen and with a number of young birds prospecting the area and details to be gathered about the birds that we have seen, it is promising to be an interesting summer. As is always the way with wildlife, the script has been well and truly thrown out the window, so what happens next is anyone's guess.

Thirsty Work:

We have been busy this week clearing a huge wind fallen beech near Kelton Hill Wood. The 70 inch diameter tree fell from the edge of the wood into one of the adjacent fields. The combination of physical work, protective gear and beaming sunshine resulted in some very hot working conditions. 
Most chainsaw work is usually done outside the bird breeding season so as not to disturb any nests, and therefore is usually much cooler than at present. However this tree had fallen as a result of the wet and windy weather we had in previous weeks and had fallen on to pasture so needed to be cleared.
However, the resulting influx of light onto the woodland floor should give opportunity to woodland ground flora to thrive and for the next generation of trees to establish themselves and compete for a place in the canopy.

World Oceans Week:

17 May 2012

Mobile Home:

Take a closer look at this picture of our tractor engine and you will see the rather questionable location that a pair of pied wagtails down at Kelton Mains decided to build their nest. Luckily ranger Dave's super sharp hearing located them and the tractor will remain out of use until the chicks have fledged.

The Last few weeks:

As spring has been springing the wildlife at Threave has been gathering momentum and the birds have been singing, flowers blooming and species arriving. As ever with the natural world however, things are never predictable and the wildlife never follows the script exactly. The balmy weather towards the end of March was soon forgotten as the April showers and some cool northern and easterly winds dominated April so far. So far May has not been a whole lot better but that all makes for an interesting year of unpredictable wildlife.

The male Osprey (ringed: Black 80) arrived back on the 28th March and quickly got to work cleaning and adding to the nest. On the evening of the 4th April the arrival of a female osprey at the nest got everyone excited. However, the female that landed appears to have been just a passing bird as they were seen together the next morning but after that the male remained alone on the nest. That was until, on the 11th May there was a sighting of a female osprey on the nest with the male. Many more sightings came in over that weekend, and at one point there was even three ospreys sighted around the nest! So far we have not been able to confirm whether or not the female is the same as last year but we have our fingers crossed that we get some chicks this summer.

Along with the ospreys many of our other summer visitors have arrived after their long migrations. The arrival of the birds along with the blossoming of trees and the emergence of flowers, have been a welcoming sign that summer is on its way. Around the reserve and gardens some of the earlier species to arrive were chiffchaff on 22nd March, willow warbler on 8th April, blackcap on 11th April, swallows on 13th April and house martins on 15th April. Down along the river Dee and Blackpark Marsh the sound of grasshopper and sedge warbler now fills the air and swift can be seen in their masterful flight.

Down at Rockcliffe we had a lovely day putting on the ‘Spring has Sprung’ event which included information on a variety of species associated with spring, some invertebrates and amphibians dipped from a local pond, and members of the Scottish Ornithologists’ Club who undertook some bird ringing. The ringing was a great way for people to see birds up close and appreciate how handsome and dainty birds are. We had plenty of birds to ring from the more common such as chaffinch and blue tit, to the less common such as redpoll and treecreeper. There have also been some fantastic sightings of stoat, badger and red squirrel. The red squirrel showing signs that she has young as there was skin showing on her front from where she had been suckling her young (kittens). Some of the passage migrants through Rockcliffe have included bar-tailed godwit, sandwich tern and whimbrel. There is currently a fantastic display of bluebells, stitchwort and pink purslane, and with the summer now well and truly on its way we can look forward to also enjoying the lovely wildflower meadows at Rockcliffe.

Around the Threave wetland reserve over the past few weeks we have been lucky enough to have seen barn owl hunting over the fields, snipe drumming over the marsh, red squirrel commuting along the mature hedgerows, roe deer grazing on little wood hill, lapwing displaying in front of stepping stones hide, curlew calling from blackmarsh hide, red kites soaring above castle island, kingfisher darting along the Dee and reed bunting singing on top of hawthorn along the path to the castle. Around the gardens there has been nuthatch nesting, swallows swooping around the countryside centre, a heron nesting along the drive, an impressive rookery alive with noise and bats that appear to be stationary above the ponds (our new bat sculptures). A quick trip to the Kelton Hill Woods hide to fill the bird feeders rewarded me with red squirrel, roe deer, greater spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, great tit, blue tit, coal tit, robin and willow warbler. All this in just 3 minutes.

This is just a small insight into the wildlife which has been seen since the start of spring so keep checking back for updates on how they all get on over the rest of the year.

Welcome To The Blog:

Hello and welcome to the new blog for the National Trust for Scotland Dumfries & Galloway Countryside Team.

We will be updating the blog as often as possible with news of wildlife sightings, events, information about work on our reserves and anything else we think you may find interesting.

Please feel free to comment on posts or to contact us by email with any interesting/querky/curious pictures stories etc. that we can post on the blog and share with everyone interested in the fantastic wildlife we have in and around the National Trust for Scotland's reserves in Dumfries & Galloway The more eyes and ears we have the better.