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.

18 December 2013

Threave Female Osprey Identity 2013

Further information for all of you interested regards our female Blue KC she was ringed as a chick in 2009 in Stirlingshire, from a brood of 4 young, which is exceptional.
Also here is another image of our 2013 chicks to wet your appetites. we are all really looking forward to see what the Threave Osprey 2014 season will bring to us.

Best Wishes

15 November 2013

Spartina/Cord Grass Control

As far as work on the estate and wider properties we also run, myself and the team have been very very busy bees indeed; over at Rockcliffe a lot of our time has been dominated by Spartina! Spartina is a non native invasive cord grass which can rapidly take over mud flats, so we started an initiative to control this pest 3 years ago, by covering them in plastic, pegging it down and waiting for the plant to die.....
A action shot of Dave and Judy pulling up a plastic sheets with a tonne of mud on.

Yesterday, the Coastal Ranger Nick, from the Solway Firth Partnership came to help with a team of dedicated volunteers. Thanks for your help Nick!

At the mains, the winter tree work starts! I’ll keep you posted...

Filming at Night at the Reserve

Some guys were doing some filming at night on the reserve yesterday, with some pretty sophisticated bits of kit. Check out their website...

Super Cool Moth

Check out this super cool moth Judy found under an Oak tree we were cutting up;

The food plant for the caterpillar is Oak leaves and it is rare and only locally distributed in Scotland.

First Frost

First 'proper' frost 4th November

Autumn and Geese!

We are well and truly within the grips of Autumn, Red deer are rutting, the trees are heaving with berries and it hasn’t stopped raining for 2 weeks!
Most importantly the Autumn means the changing of the guard on the reserve, the summer migrants leave and the winter migrants arrive.  Bringing with them Geese, Swans and Wildfowl (Anatidae family). The gathering of these in such high densities is one the things that makes Threave NNR such a special place, giving it it’s RAMSAR designation – a wetland of International importance. 

12 Whoopers coming into the newly flooded marsh!

Currently on the wetland we have copious amounts of pink-footed and greylag geese, whooper swans in large family groups regularly visiting and probably most exiting of all Greenland White-Fronted geese, look out for these rare geese (sometimes mixed in with the pinks), 200 approx have been spotted on the reserve.

A photo, of a few thousand geese coming in to roost on the wetland at the reserve. What a sight and sound!
On the wider estate Thruses (Turdidae), Redwing and Field fare mainly, from Scandinavia, have been seen in their hundreds moving through, a good place to see them is along the railway line, picking off the berries.

06 October 2013

Event: Autumn Art Attack & Autumn Creatures

Autumn Art Attack &
Autumn Creatures

Dates: 16th and 23rd October - 2pm to 3.30pm:
This is an event for kids. Make an autumn collage from different tree leaves. Create a creature from acorns, horse chestnuts and pine cones.
Location: Threave Nature Reserve, Kelton Mains Farm, Castle Douglas DG7 1TJ.
Price: Adults - £2, kids - £1. Booking Essential: Tel. 0844 4932245.

04 October 2013

Explore Threave Nature Reserve

Explore Threave Nature Reserve
This Autumn and Winter!

* Come see the amazing spectacle of geese gathering on the wetlands at dusk. Greylag, pink-footed and Greenland white-fronted in good numbers.
* Large numbers of duck such as teal, pintail, wigeon and shoveller.
* Look out for otter, kingfisher and birds of prey.
A great day out for all the family and it’s free!

Location: Threave Nature Reserve, Kelton Mains Farm, Castle Douglas DG7 1TJ
For further information please call the ranger service on 01556 503702.

Pink-footed geese at dusk - Threave Nature Reserve:

25 September 2013

Threave Osprey Update:

The Threave Ospreys have now all left for West Africa! The two juvenile left on the 12 and 13th of September. Let’s hope they have a safe journey south to either Senegal or Gambia, which is where most British Ospreys migrate to.

There is still lots to see at Threave Estate, the wintering wildfowl are starting to come in. Soon we will have the flocks of pink-footed, greylag and white-fronted geese.

We will also have more duck species such as pintail, teal, wigeon and gadwall. Waders will also increase such as snipe and lapwing. Soon the migration of fieldfare and redwing will be coming from Scandinavia. They will be feeding on all the hawthorn berries.

If you like your wild foods. There are plenty on the nature reserve. Fat, juicy blackberries, elderberries and a few sloe berry.

21 September 2013

The naming of osprey juvenile - Gelston Primary School

The making of one juvenile osprey for naming game.

Winning osprey name - Dipper!

Winning osprey name - Sophie!

Pinning the fish (with osprey names) blindfolded on to target below osprey talons.

Osprey quiz for kids at Threave.

Osprey Nest for kids to get an idea of sheer size of nest.

The making of one of the juvenile for osprey naming game.

13 September 2013

Threave Osprey Photos:

Juvenile Osprey seen flying at Ken Dee Marshes. Photo by Lynne Ainsworth.

Juvenile Osprey seen from Stepping Stones Hide, Threave Nature Reserve - Thanks Lynne Ainsworth for another great photo.

11 September 2013

Threave Osprey Update:

Threave Estate. Plenty of enjoyable walks and come see the geese and duck over autumn and winter.
Threave Osprey News:

The male osprey (Black 80) has left the Threave nesting site over the weekend. I think the bad weather may have had something to do with it!

He has done his job, both juvenile are hunting fish and looking in good condition for migration. We didn't see them at all over the weekend (due to bad weather) and then had views of both juvenile on Monday and Tuesday. It won't be long before they also head south.

Yesterday a member of the public saw one of the juvenile osprey have a tussle in mid air with a red kite. That must have been an awesome sight! One I have been lucky enough to witness a few times at Threave. My money is on the osprey winning, it’s a more powerful bird of prey!

So once the ospreys migrate, we have lots more wildlife to look forward to viewing in October. The migration south of greylag, pink footed and Greenland white-fronted geese. Whooper swan, pintail, teal, wigeon and waders such as snipe and lapwing.

So get out your winter woollies, come see these interesting birds and flocks of geese and duck. It’s a spectacle to behold!

Osprey Ranger - soon to be Duck/Geese Ranger.

07 September 2013

Threave Osprey Update:

The male and two juvenile are still here at Threave nature reserve. We are still getting good views of them bringing in fish and feeding on the two perch's to the left of the nest.

On Wednesday one juvenile brought in a flounder, so therefore it had been to the coast to catch it, as they are flat fish and only on the coast.

With the recent colder, wetter weather we may see the osprey go south soon and head towards West Africa. This will be the first long distance flight for the juvenile and a hazardous journey. Only 50% of juvenile osprey survive their first migration.

One of the osprey volunteers got a great view of a juvenile barn owl on Tuesday evening. She watched it for about 15 minutes from the pier in front of the castle. It was sitting on the boat just in front of her. Awesome!

Come and see the Threave osprey before they leave!!

Have a good weekend.

Osprey Ranger.

05 September 2013

Autumn Wild Foods - 21st September:

Autumn Wild Foods
At Threave Nature Reserve

21st September, 2pm to 4pm.

Come along with the ranger and learn about wild foods and their folklore. Also learn some bush-craft skills. This is an event for all the family.

Price: Adults £2, Children £1.

Tel: 0844 4932245 Booking essential.

30 August 2013

Threave Osprey Photos:

Photo by Graham Johnstone.

Osprey Wingspan: 5.5 feet long.

Sunset over the River Dee.

Threave Osprey Update:

Yesterday I went to Gelston Primary school to talk about osprey and name the two young juvenile. It was great fun and the kids were very enthusiastic about osprey.

They split into two groups and made an osprey juvenile each. They used arts and crafts to make their osprey and learnt some osprey facts. They then had a fish, which they had to write the name of their chosen juvenile osprey on.

The name game then involved the kids being blindfolded and having to stick their fish on a target below the osprey talons. The winning juvenile names are Dipper and Sophie. Also known as CU8 and CU9.

Gelston came to Threave nature reserve today to see the osprey and were lucky enough to see one juvenile feeding on a fish and the other one flew in and perched up on the forked branch. They also saw a heron, 5 mallard and plenty of swallows, house martin and sand martin flocking up at Kelton Mains Farm.

Have a good weekend.

Osprey Ranger.

Photos to follow:

28 August 2013

Threave Osprey Update:

Sunset over the river Dee, from the osprey platform.

Osprey bringing fish back to the nest at Threave.

Both the juvenile female ospreys at Threave are catching fish. We have had some good views of them bringing back fish and feeding on the two perch's to the left of the nest. The male (Black 80) is still here and looking after his offspring.

We had a great view yesterday afternoon of one juvenile feeding on the "V" fork perch on a rather large fish. The juvenile was wet, so we presumed that it had dived for the fish.

Other wildlife on Threave nature reserve: Lapwing x 100, long tailed tits x7, female hen harrier, whitethroat, reed bunting and willow warbler.

The otter is putting in a good appearance on the river at the moment with numerous sightings from stepping stones hide and near Threave Castle.

Have a good day.

Osprey Ranger.

22 August 2013

Threave Osprey Update: The female has departed.

The Osprey Viewing Platform at Threave Nature Reserve.

The male osprey, Black 80 being mobbed by crows.

Threave Osprey News:

We believe the female (Olivia) has departed south on her journey to West Africa. The last time she was seen was on Sunday night by myself and 3 volunteers.

The female is the first to leave the nest site as she wants to get some peace away from the juvenile. She will take roughly up to a month to get to West Africa, stopping at different lakes and rivers enroute to rest and... refuel on fish. She will even have to fly over part of the Sahara desert, which is the world's hottest desert, no mean feat!

So now we are down to just three resident osprey. The male will be making sure the juvenile are well fed and can hunt for fish. Black 80 (Ozzie) is an experienced male and will teach the two young female how to hunt. Already we have had views of the juvenile diving for fish from Castle Hide.

So come down to Threave Nature Reserve and see if you can see these spectacular birds before they depart for West Africa.

If you are interested in learning more about bats, why not book yourself a bat walk on a Thursday night at Threave Estate. Please phone 01556 503702 or check out Threave Bat Reserve for more information.

Enjoy the sunshine.

Osprey Ranger

21 August 2013

Threave Osprey Update:

The Ospreys are still at Threave Nature Reserve and we hope they will hang around into September. It all depends on weather conditions and the ability of the juvenile to catch fish.

Already some of my volunteers have been lucky enough to see the female juvenile diving for fish from Castle Hide. What an awesome sight. This bird is adapted to just hunt fish, a supreme predator.

On saturday the weather was horrible and we are lucky that this Summer was so glorious. This makes a big difference to the ospreys as the adults struggle to hunt in wet and windy conditions. Most raptors don't hunt in the heavy rain. The osprey would struggle to see the fish in high winds, forming bigger waves....

Other Wildlife Sightings:

Otter x2 - Stepping Stones Hide: 20/08
Field Vole x1 - 15/08:
Weasel x2 - Osprey Platform:
Lapwing x 100 - 06/08:
Swallows, house martin and sand martin flocking up on wires at Kelton Mains Farm.

Over and out. Osprey Ranger

Threave Osprey Photos:

An osprey captured by Samuel Hood moments before it dived for a fish at Castle Hide. Come and see these amazing birds for yourself before they migrate back to West Africa.

An osprey hovering before it dives into the River Dee. Photo taken by young wildlife photographer Samuel Hood.

An osprey feeding on a flat-fish at the coast near Borgue, Dumfries and Galloway.

Male Osprey bringing in fish to the nest site, whilst female was incubating.

17 August 2013

Threave Osprey Update:

It’s been an exciting week at the Threave Osprey nest. On Wednesday the 14th a female hen harrier swooped into the osprey territory and got chased off by both the male (Ozzie) and female (Olivia). It was an incredible sight and the female hen harrier took refuge in the thick foliage of an Ash tree 250 metres in front of the osprey platform. It was an incredible experience for a new volunteer called Samuel, his first ever hen harrier sighting.

Later on that day, two very lucky members of the public saw the male osprey dive for a fish from Castle Hide. They even had the photo to prove it. Sam and I missed it by 10 minutes, we were very envious.

We have had some great sightings of fish being brought in, and the juveniles and adults feeding on the perches to the left of the nest. You could even see the tail still flicking on a couple of the fish. Awesome!

Other Wildlife sightings:

The female hen harrier was seen again on Friday. Kingfishers have been seen on numerous occasions this week along the river by the osprey platform. Karl Munday (Head Ranger) saw a female Goshawk flying over Meikle wood.

45 Greylag geese (local feral population) in stubble field along road entrance to Threave Nature reserve.

An Otter on Threave Island to the left of Threave Castle.

Have a good weekend.

Osprey Ranger

Rockcliffe: Himalayan Balsam Removal

On Tuesday the 13th August, the team were joined by twelve young people, including two members of staff from Abernethy Trust (Barcaple Outdoor Christian Centre). The group are taking part in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards scheme for one week at Barcaple. They are covering various tasks including maintenance, cooking and outdoor pursuits.
The task involved for the D & G team was to remove Himalayan Balsam from part of our Rockcliffe property. Himalayan Balsam was introduced to the British Isles in the Mid 1800s, then escaped from gardens and has now established itself along many water courses throughout the British Isles. It is a vigorous plant out competing and shading out our native species.
With the help from the group, we managed to remove thirty plus bags of Himalayan balsam. This will be part of an ongoing program to control the problem of this invasive species.  The D & G Countryside Team hope to develop a working partnership with the Barcaple Outdoor Christian Centre in the future.
Thanks guys.
Dave Thompson.

Lost in the Braken!

The D of E Award Team.

Guess the plant game. Guess who was Himalayan Balsam?
Removal of Himalayan Balsam along the stream.

11 August 2013

Threave Osprey Update:

At the osprey platform we are getting some great views of the juvenile and adults. They are bringing in up to eight fish per day. The juvenile are still being fed, but in the next few weeks the adults will feed them less to encourage them to hunt for themselves.

The male (Ozzie) will teach the juvenile to hunt, they learn by watching him. The female osprey (Olivia) will be the first to migrate back to Africa, probably towards the end of this month.

Elsewhere on the reserve there has been a flock of lapwing up to 100, a flock of greylag geese, the kingfisher keep putting up an appearance and we are getting great views of other raptors such as buzzard and red kite from the osprey platform.

Enjoy your Sunday roast.

Osprey Ranger.

07 August 2013

Threave Osprey Update:

The two young female ospreys are now being more adventurous and you may see them out practice - fishing on the reserve if you are lucky.

The male (ozzie) and female (Olivia) are still feeding the two juveniles. Later on they will feed the chicks less to encourage them to hunt. The male will also teach them to hunt. A young osprey has to learn quick as they soon migrate south to West Africa in early September. Sometimes they learn to hunt on the journey south. Luckily we have a very experienced father and he will teach his offspring well.

Threave Wildlife update:

Still plenty of beautiful butterflies enjoying the sunny weather. Two kingfishers were seen this morning whilst we were showing a French group the osprey. An amazing sight. A quick flash of blue. What a beautiful bird.

A lot of the resident swallows at Threave are having their second brood. You can watch the parents feed the young as you come into the reserve. They are nesting in the toilet block. It's great for your kids to see.

Enjoy the good weather.

Over and out.

Osprey Ranger

04 August 2013

Threave Osprey Update:

It’s all happening at the Threave Osprey nest site. There are not many places in Britain, where you can get such great views of adults and juveniles flying around.

Two members of the public saw the two young female juvenile practicing fishing at stepping stones hide. I was very envious. They had a great photo to prove it.

I managed to get down to the osprey platform yesterday and had a great day of wildlife viewing. A raven came too near to the nest and got chased off by the female, Olivia. The raven made a quick exit. Two other ravens came honking along later on.

The most exciting view was a peregrine falcon that swooped in too close to the nest and the male proceeded to chase it out of his territory. What a great view!!!

Two awesome predators, one adapted to killing fish and the other for stooping on anything from a mallard to a starling. I think the peregrine was a female, as they are quite a bit bigger than the males. In birds of prey the females always tends to be bigger and this is the case of "reversed sexual size dimorphism". The size differences allow the two sexes to hunt different prey and thus reduce competition for food. For example in peregrines the male will mostly hunt starling, blackbird and smaller bird species such as woodcock and the female will hunt pigeon, mallard, gulls, and slightly larger birds. Obviously the habitat plays a part in what they catch.

There has been a flock of about 100 lapwing flying around the reserve and surroundings fields. What a sight to behold. If you like your waders come down and see it for yourself.

Have a great day.

Osprey Ranger

01 August 2013

Recent Wildlife Sightings at Threave:

Recent Wildlife Sightings:

A rather impressive wildlife sighting for Dave Thompson one of our legendary full time rangers. At Kelton Hill wood he spotted an adult peregrine falcon and two juvenille on the 28th of July.

60 lapwing seen by myself at stepping stones hide.
Juvenille willow warbler and chiffchaff in all the hawthorn and small bushes along the path to the osprey platform.

Oyster catc...her mobbing the juvenille osprey was a great sight to behold. Really going for the newly fledged chicks at the nest site of the osprey. Think someone needs to tell them they only eat fish!

Plenty of wild raspberries around the reserve, so if you fancy some tasty free food, come along and pick some on the beautiful woodland side of the estate.

Osprey Ranger

31 July 2013

Threave Osprey Update:

The younger chick has also fledged. Stephanie one of our volunteers was lucky to witness it fledge yesterday at 10.30 am. Unfortunately I missed them fledge as I was helping the team with bracken bashing at Rockcliffe.

Joyce (Volunteer at Osprey watch) was watching the chick’s behaviour in the afternoon. The older chick was much more adventurous and was hardly around the nest site. The younger chick only flew as far as 100 metres from the nest and was flying quite regularly to the main black poplar perch.

Elsewhere on the reserve: The wild flowers are looking splendid. The meadow sweet, valerian, rosebay willow herb and purple loosestrife look beautiful.

There are plenty of butterflies enjoying the sunny weather. I have seen ringlet, red admiral, peacock, green veined white, brown argus, small tortoiseshell and large and small whites.

Osprey Ranger

30 July 2013

Threave Osprey Update: - One chick has fledged!

Exciting news at the Threave nest site: The first female chick fledged yesterday in the early hours. Anar (one of the volunteers) spotted the chick at 10 am perched on the black poplar perch. The other chick has not quite fledged yet.

I went down this morning and there was just the one chick on the nest and the female - Olivia, sitting on the black polar perch.

Yesterday a pike was bought back the nest, a rather large one at that. The male is really feeding up those chicks. He will now concentrate his efforts on teaching them to hunt before they fly south to Africa.

Come down to Threave and get some great views of the chicks flying near the nest. Its a spectacular sight and they will fly closer to the platform than the adults as they don't know who humans are and aren't scared of us yet!

Osprey Ranger

20 July 2013

Threave Osprey Ringing Photos:

Please see below for osprey photos of the ringing on the 17th July. We have two female chicks. CU8 and CU9.