It's wilder than you might think.

About Us

My photo
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.

27 March 2013

In raptors

It isn't just rumours flying around at Threave in the last couple of days. With reports of birds moving up through the British Isles, there has been an increase in people scanning the river for signs of returning raptors, and on Monday they were rewarded with this:

As yet we have been unable to get the scope on a ring, but both ranger Austin Smith and local resident Jimmy Skilling have reported sightings for the last two days. Without a ring number we cannot yet know whether Black 80 has returned, and indeed this bird may just be passing, but watch this space for further updates, or even better, get down and take a look yourself! The bright, cold, (occasionally) clear weather affords excellent views of the nest vicinity.

There is a tangible sense of excitement here that the ice cannot freeze out, and we'd be really pleased if you felt like sharing your own sightings or information here.

Alternatively, follow us on our new Twitter page (@ThreaveOspreys) and get the latest updates that way. We'll be keeping you informed throughout the season.

26 March 2013

Snow, continued

You know that it's an unusual pattern of weather when even the balmy climes of Rockcliffe are wrapped up in an icy blanket. For those of you who don't believe me, here's a taste of what it was like; photos courtesy of ranger Judy Baxter.

Snowed under!

Last week we welcomed the arrival of Austin, this year's seasonal ranger, who appears to have brought the weather with him from his previous posting in the Grampians. Within hours of getting here, the road to Kelton Mains might as well not have existed as the whole area was buried beneath thick, thigh deep snow. Inaccessible by car, the estate path and nature reserve became the province of those determined enough to wade through the drifts. The photo below does some justice to the reward that awaited them:

Splendid isolation.

Since then the countryside team has been busy cutting and clearing the debris whipped up by the high winds, and we're expecting quite a bit more if the forecasters are to be believed. The paths at Rockcliffe are relatively clear and the views across the snowy estuary are rare ones indeed, so if you're cabin feverish after hiding from the weather, consider a trip over there.

20 March 2013

March WEBS Count

Each month we take part in a nationwide WEBS (Wetland Bird Survey) count. Here's what you could be seeing as you do the rounds at Threave:

530 Pink-footed goose
54 Teal
201 Wigeon
3 Pintail
1 Goosander
3 Goldeneye
10 Mallard
2 Cormorant
2 Heron
5 Curlew
18 Lapwing
47 Black-headed gull
25 Common gull
8 Oystercatcher
30+ Meadow pipit
6 Reed Bunting
1 Moorhen
Water rail (calling)
100+ Fieldfare and redwing
Long-tailed tit
Red Kite

In addition we have seen a return of the Blue-winged teal - an American vagrant that has appeared near Lamb Island over the past few years. To get to Lamb Island, follow the estate path from Kelton Mains along the railway line and the signs to Lamb Island hide. Happy birdwatching!

Open Season

Though it may feel like we are all suffering in the grip of a perpetual winter, Easter is nearly upon us and there are signs that things are changing, both in the air and on the ground. While there are still good numbers of wildfowl about (particularly pink-footed geese), in the next few weeks they will begin to depart, coinciding, we hope, with a new chapter in the Threave osprey story. Already birds have been noted passing upwards through the British Isles, and we look forward to not only keeping you updated here, but keeping in touch with the UK's other osprey rehabilitation projects as well.

Preparations are already underway for the coming season, and we are excited to announce that our numbers in the D&G Countryside Team will be swelling even more than usual. We are currently advertising for two newly created positions - an osprey ranger and a bat reserve ranger - to develop and promote these vital projects. For more information, see:

As Scotland's first 'Bat Reserve', Threave has an important role to play in raising awareness and encouraging mutually beneficial interaction with bats. There are seven species present on the estate alone, and though the cold weather means hunting activity is currently limited, come summer we hope to run a number of events alongside the self-led walk that is currently in place. Expect to hear more in the near future!

As many bat species have come to rely on standing structures as roosts, it is important that any building maintenance undertaken takes this into account. Our countryside centre at Threave Estate is currently undergoing roof work (pictured below), after appropriate discussions between the construction team and Karl, the senior ranger.

2013 looks to be a promising year for the D&G Countryside this space.