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.

26 July 2012

Osprey Update 26/07:

The osprey chicks are gracing us with their presence on a fairly regular basis now. They have even popped onto the edge of the nest to use the bathroom shall we say!

Upcoming Events:

Over the next few weeks we have a number of events for you to enjoy.

29/07 - Threave Osprey Day
Come on down to Threave nature reserve between 11am - 4pm for some osprey themed activities, great views of ospreys & thier chicks, and the opportunity to chat with the rangers and volunteers about the ospreys and any other wildlife questions you have.

31/07 - Rough Island Walk
Join the rangers for a leisurely walk to Rough Island and explore the mudflats on the way. Discover the strange creatures that live in the estuary and why the island is so important for wildlife. Walks run from 2 - 4 pm. Booking is required on 0844 493 2245. Meet at the main (upper) car park in Rockcliffe. Bring wellies and binoculars if you have them.

07/08 - Butterflies, Bugs & Beasties
A beginners guide to who's who in the insect world. Explore the Rockcliffe meadows and meet some of the tiny residents. Event runs from 2 - 3.30 pm. Meet at the main car park at Rockcliffe. 

14/08 - Rough Island Walk
see details for 31/07

22/08 - Bumblebees
Join the rangers for an amble round Venniehillmeadow looking at bumblebees, wildflowers and other insects. Event runs from 2 - 3.30 pm. Booking is required on 0844 493 2245. Meet at Vennie hill meadows at the north end of Gatehouse-of-Fleet high street. 

26-27/08 - Meet the Highlanders
A chance to meet some of the highland cattle which graze the fields at Rockcliffe over the winter months. Discover why these large hairy lawnmowers are so iimportant in keeping our meadows rich in wildlife. No booking required just follow the signs from the main car park at Rockcliffe. Event runs from 11 am - 4 pm on both days.

28/08 - Rough Island Walk
See details for 31/07

17/10 - Wild Wetlands
Join the rangers for a longer walk around the Threave Estate including a visit to the wetland hides to catch up on the winter visitors and then out to Carlinwark Loch. Bring a packed lunch and binoculars if you have them. The walk runs from 10 am - 3 pm. Booking is required on 0844 493 2245

20 July 2012

Osprey Update 20/07:

Over the past few days there have been numerous sightings of the chicks. We can confirm that there are 2 chicks. 

Come on down to the osprey platform to get some great views of the parents feeding the young.

These slightly out of focus shots show the female feeding the young who are just out of sight.

Osprey chicks take around 53 days to fledge. We believe that they hatched on or around the 5th July so this should mean that they will be fledging around the 27th August.

Next Sunday (29/07) wil be OSPREY DAY! Come on down to Threave nature reserve between 11am - 4pm for some osprey themed activities and to chat with the rangers and volunteers about ospreys.

12 July 2012

Thank You:

A big thanks to all the volunteers who came down to Rockcliffe to help with the bracken management. The group put in a lot of effort and got a lot done.

We manage bracken in the meadow areas as it has become very invasive and out competes the wildflowers which are beneficial to many insects such as bees and butterflies.

The management technique involves damaging the stem of the bracken so that it puts its energy into repairing the stem. After a number of years of this management the plants vigour is reduced and the bracken canopy starts to thin, giving other species the opportunity to flourish. To damage the stems a technique called swiping is undertaken. This involves swiping with a metal stick as in the picture above. This is used in conjunction with a bracken roller pulled by a quad bike. The advantage of the swiping by hand is that more care can be taken to avoid wildflowers as shown in the picture below.

New Kids On The Block:

Look out for these two house martin fledglings when you are down at Kelton Mains. They've been hunkering down in the nest for the past few days but the sunshine of yesterday and today should entice them out some time soon. Is it me or does the one on the left look like the naughty one?

They're Back:

The pied wagtails that earlier this year decided to nest inside our tractor, right on top of the engine, are back with another brood. Their attempts to raise chicks earlier this year were successful despite the chicks being driven half way around the estate before we realised they were in there. After the chicks fledged we cleaned out the nest and continued using the tractor. However, over the past month we have not used the tractor and when ranger Dave checked it this morning there was a new nest, full to the brim with pied wagtail chicks just about ready to fledge. The parents obviously have very post-modern industrial taste when it comes to the decoration scheme of their nests.

10 July 2012

Falcons at Grey Mare's Tail:

The Grey Mare's Tail peregrines have had another successful year, despite the very wet spring that badly affected many peregrine nests elsewhere in the UK. These three chicks, seen here with Alan Moores (NTS Recruiter & Volunteer), David Foreman (Volunteer) and George Smith (Bird Ringer), fledged in mid-June but are still seen regularly flying over the Grey Mare's Tail car parks.

06 July 2012

Osprey Update 06/07:

The ospreys have been showing behaviour that would indicate that hatching has taken place. Yesterday the birds were both seen standing on the edge of the nest, one with its head in the nest. The female then returned to sitting in the nest. We don't know for certain yet, but this behaviour would suggest that at least one egg has hatched and they may still be brooding on the remaining eggs as the eggs do not usually hatch on the same day. 

05 July 2012

Almost ready:

The swallows in residence in the countryside centre look just about ready to fledge. There is hardly enough room for them all in the nest. Their friends down at Kelton Mains fledged on Saturday. 

Splash of Colour:

The ponds around the estate have come to life with a splash of colour today. The sunny morning  seems to have been to the liking of plenty of damselflies. This one I snapped whilst resting is an Azure Damselfly. Haven't spotted any dragonflies yet.

Can You Spot the Flycatcher?:

If you take a stroll past Threave house you are quite likely to 'spot' one of these - a juvenile spotted flycatcher. They nested behind down spout of the guttering on Threave House. Luckily the nest was not washed away with all the rain that we have had in recent weeks. The chicks have now fledged and can be seen practising their flycatching skills above the lawn behind the house. At this stage they are sometimes also still being fed by the adults. 

The spotted flycatcher is a species of conservation concern within the UK as its numbers have dropped so dramatically in recent years. This is due to a number of factors including a decrease in insect populations caused by pollution and insecticides. 

Osprey Update 05/07: 

As of this morning there were no signs that any of the eggs have yet hatched. They should be hatching within the next week. Fingers crossed.