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.

24 April 2013

Job Vacancy - Membership Recruiter / Information Assistant

Here's a great opportunity to join the NTS D&G Countryside team on a fixed term basis in the capacity of membership recruiter. See below for more details:

17 April 2013

Wildlife and Threave Gardens

Threave is a complicated and varied estate with a lot of segments, so it's nice to see some link-up between two of these working parts - the gardens and the nature reserve - in the form of these sculptures:

You'll find them in the sunken part of the secret garden (if you can find that!) - as you can see, amongst other things there are pieces depicting an osprey, Threave Castle, some bats and some fighting hares, all of which are important features of the nature reserve and indeed Threave Estate as a whole, as the sculptures' location the garden is intended celebrate.

It's worth mentioning that the gardens themselves are beginning to flourish once more and will definitely be worth a visit in the coming weeks and months. Situated very close to the nature reserve, the gardens offer a different kind of spectacle to the wetlands. The beds and lawns are looking particularly neat and trim and the beautiful walled garden will soon be coming into its own. At present there are a great variety of daffodils to be admired both in the garden and around the wider estate (particularly in Keltonhill Wood), in addition to which a particularly fierce battle is being waged between a blue tit, a great tit and a nuthatch to see who will occupy a favoured tree-hole in the gardens' weeping ash this summer. Keltonhill Wood, located further up the hill from the gardens, is an excellent place for viewing red squirrels - and our newly repainted and repaired hide a quiet spot to sit and wait for them. There are also some excellent examples of standing dead wood suitable for bats (particularly noctules):

Closer to the countryside centre is an unmissable large rookery, where the birds are currently very lively in their pair bonding and fighting over nests. The gardens really are a treat for anyone interested in formal gardening, heritage gardening, glasshouse work, fruit and vegetable cultivation, art or wildlife.

In other news, after a few days of only seeing one osprey at a time, some of the NTS staff and members of the public were treated to an exuberant skydance by the male, trying to get the attention of the female who was watching from the nest. Expect more footage and photos in the next few days.

And last but not least, a Hercules plane flying very low over the area roused a group of about 40 greenland white-fronted geese from a site nearby the castle on Monday. In the last few years the Threave wetlands have acted as extremely important wintering sites for these globally threatened birds.

15 April 2013


So the wetlands have been undeniably wild over the weekend and seemingly into this week, with high winds and horizontal rain making their way across the drumlins and marshes at the reserve. Despite this though some of the first spring migrants have been spotted, with several sightings of swallows, sand martins, chiff-chaff and willow tit all documented. Looking forward to some more sights like this one from last year:

In a similar vein, we welcome the return of our osprey volunteers, who will now be regularly on hand with information and a scope at the osprey viewing platform (or in the comparative safety of Castle Hide when the weather is like it has been!) On your walk round the reserve stop, say hello and catch up on the latest osprey activity.

A sighting of both ospreys together has been a little elusive over the past few days, with only one being seen at any one time. Both male and female behaviour has been noted however, including displaying, hunting, nest building and nest occupation, so there are a number of possibilities as to what's going on. Often our schedule means that we get to spend less time at the platform than we might like, so the time given by the osprey volunteers is greatly appreciated and allows us to keep a closer track on the birds' activities.

11 April 2013

Wild Wetlands Event - Sunday 14th April

While we've been focusing quite a bit on the incoming ospreys of late, it's important not to forget that they are just part of a much wider range of organisms that make up the different habitats on the reserve.

This Sunday we are holding a Wild Wetlands event as a way of illustrating the richness of our animal and plant life. Part of the Wild Spring Festival (, join us for a closer look at the wetland system, take our quiz trail around the reserve and see it as you may never have done before! There is, after all, always something new to learn.

Event and parking at Kelton Mains both free (donations always welcome!)

11:00 - 16:00

Look forward to seeing you there.

05 April 2013

New year; new nest

It feels as though this year has gathered momentum so quickly that there has hardly been time to provide any background to the new season:

Earlier in 2013, there was some concern that the nesting platform previously used by the ospreys was becoming unstable, and would compromise the successful rearing of young in the coming months. Indeed, the concern was great enough that the countryside team took the decision to remove it and establish a new one close-by.

The work was undertaken over a weekend in February by Ciril Ostroznik and NTS D&G senior ranger Karl Munday, utilising branches from the new tree to fashion the basic nest structure. The ospreys have made their mark since arriving though, building the nest up considerably and generally settling in for the summer.

03 April 2013

April 3rd: an update

There has been an absolute surge of activity on the reserve in the last few days; our male (frustratingly still unconfirmed) stepping up nest-building activities with the fervour of someone frantically tidying up before the visit of somebody he wishes to impress. Sure enough, reports of a female osprey's arrival on the scene have proved to be true and both were showing extremely well throughout Tuesday, adding considerable amounts of wood to the nest, fishing, perching and posturing for long periods. The photo below (courtesy of L. Phelps) shows just how much the nest has been built up over the last few days:

Following these initial activities, the interaction of the two ospreys culminated with four attempts at mating, which several members of the public were lucky to witness. The viewpoint down on the reserve really does provide fantastic views of the birds, and things are getting ever more exciting as the new month commences.

Elsewhere on the estate there have been good numbers of snipe seeking refuge in the small drainage ditches while the wetland has been frozen over, long-eared owl in the woodlands and the blue-winged teal that has frequented the Lamb Island vicinity of late. Despite the weather, we should soon see the return of some spring migrants to Threave - keep us updated with your sightings either here, on Twitter (@ThreaveOspreys) or on Facebook (NTS Threave Ospreys).