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.

28 June 2012

Wild about Wildflowers:

We were lucky enough to have recently attended the National Trust for Scotlands wildflower workshop near Comrie in Perthshire. NTS staff from across Scotland got together to learn about the identification of wildflowers, grasses, sedges and rushes, and to discuss if the ligules were longer on rough stalked meadow grass or smooth stalked meadow grass.

One of my favorite plants of the day was this fragrant orchid.

Seeing Red:

Down at Rockcliffe Ranger Judy got this lovely shot of one of the young red squirrels that were born earlier this year. Our native red squirrels are under threat from the introduced grey squirrel.  The greys carry a squirrelpox virus which they are immune to but is deadly to the reds. The grey squirrel also out competes the reds for food. This has caused a devastating reduction in the numbers of red squirrels and forced the population to drastically reduce its range. They are now rarely found in England and Wales and the Scottish populations are an important stronghold for the survival of our native species.

The Adventures of Karl:

Our Senior Ranger Karl got some lovely shots which show the amazing wildlife which you can see around Dumfries & Galloway in just one weekend. The shots below were taken in and around our properties at Threave, Rockliffe and Venniehill.

This wild brown trout (which was returned to the river) has fantastic markings. Brown trout are a good indicator of the health of a river or lake and play an important role in the ecosystem of the river.

Karl came across this adder basking in the sunshine. It soon made for cover when it saw Karl (who wouldn't) as they are rather timid reptiles. Adders like open habitats such as heathland, moorland, open woodland and sea cliffs, and rarely stray into gardens.

This common spotted orchid was found at our Vennie Hill reserve. This site near Gatehouse-of-Fleet is managed as a meadow and is a good place to see wildflowers.

Another good place to find wildflowers is in the meadows at Rockcliffe. Karl found this nice example of some Dyers Greenweed.

Grey Mare's Tail Exhibition:

An exhibition of stunning photography of Grey Mare’s Tail Nature Reserve opens this week at Craigieburn Garden and Cafe near Moffat. The exhibition is to mark the anniversary of Grey Mare’s Tails 50 years in the care of the National Trust for Scotland. From the dramatic landscape and its picturesque waterfall to the wildlife and botanical interest found there, Grey Mare’s Tail is shown in all its glory.  All the photographs have been taken over the past 8 years by Property Manager Richard Clarkson.  Richard is an accomplished wildlife and landscape photographer whose images have been published across the world in books, magazines and advertisements and prints have gone as far afield as New Zealand, the United States and Canada.  All the photographs are for sale and all the money will go directly to support the running of Grey Mare’s Tail Nature Reserve. Richard said ‘I hope visitors to the exhibition will be inspired to visit the reserve, will learn a little more about why it is so special, and also appreciate how significant the NTS are countrywide as guardians of Scotland’s wildlife and wild land.  Hopefully the exhibition includes something for everyone, including those that know the reserve well, as it includes some rarely seen views of the waterfall and intimate images of difficult to photograph wildlife.’  The exhibition opens on Sunday July 1st and runs until the end of August.

22 June 2012

Leaving home:

Keep your eyes peeled for dragonfly exuvia around ponds over the coming weeks. The exuvia is the skin of the dragonfly nymph which it sheds during its metamorphosis into an adult dragonfly. The nymphs crawl up the stems of plants so this is a good place to look for them (especially Iris leaves). The ponds at Threave Gardens are heaving with nymphs at the moment so plenty of adult dragonfly should be on the wing over the next few weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for them to.

New Species Found!

This grand specimen was spotted in the garden earlier today. We believe it is the first species of owl known to have metal wings.
It is one of a number of new sculptures which can be found around Threave gardens. Come and visit us to see what other impressive specimens you can find. And don't forget to pop down and see the opsreys and other fantastic wildlife on the reserve.

Osprey Update 22/06:

The ospreys are still sitting tight on the nest and are unfortunately still having to deal with intruder birds. Luckily our ospreys have been able to see off the other ospreys without leaving the nest and eggs exposed. We believe that the eggs were laid around the 26-27th May and the incubation period is 35 - 42 days so hopefully we may have some chicks around the first 2 weeks of July.

07 June 2012

Osprey Update 07/06:

The pair have been sitting tight on the nest over the past week with the male bringing fish to the female. Male ospreys do share incubation duties although the female will do the bigger share, sitting for around 70% of the time.

The Threave Osprey Platform is obviously a very sought after piece of opsrey real estate. As this picture from Ken Russell shows. Ken took the shot down from the platform on 01/06 and tells us that the a pair of ospreys arrived and were showing a lot of interest in the nest. It took the male a good 8 minutes to see them off, while the female sat tight on the nest looking after her eggs. If you look closely at the photo you can just see the head of the bird on the nest.

NTS Mar Lodge:

Whilst up visiting one of the other NTS properties, Mar Lodge in the Cairngorms, I was lucky enough to see 2 golden eagles, a pine marten and this ptarmigan all in one afternoon.

Kelton Mains Regulars:

Managed to get this quite nice shot of one of the local lads (a siskin) down around the buildings at Kelton Mains. 
One of the other locals, the barn owl, is proving a bit more tricky to get a picture of as you can imagine, although I do see it hunting along the field margins regularly.

The neighbours down at Kelton Mains all seem to have completed building their houses now and we should have lots more house martins and swallows whizzing around the place in a few weeks. The house martin in this picture just popped its head out to see what all the noise was, but was a bit camera shy.

Rockcliffe Beach Clean: 

As part of our World Oceans Week activities we undertook a beach clean down at Rockcliffe. A big thank you is in order for all those who came down and helped out. We managed to fill loads of bags with all sorts of rubbish. Some of the most common rubbish found was cotton wool bud sticks, which we believe wash up as a result of people flushing them down their toilets. They make their way through the sewage treatment process undamaged as they are plastic, and end up all over our beaches. Luckily we have a very helpful and caring community at Rockcliffe who were very thorough and managed to give the beach a good clean ready for our events the following day, which were enjoyed by a good crowd of happy beach goers (pictures of which coming soon hopefully).