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.

05 June 2014

Summer has arrived!

The arrival of summer means that Threave estate is buzzing with activity as nesting birds incubate their eggs and adult birds forage for food in the trees, fields and marsh's looking for food to feed their growing young. Mammal activity is also at a high with Roe Deer kids in the field and bats foraging on an evening around the reserve with Pipistrelle right around the reserve, Daubentons hunting over the river in front of Threave castle and Noctule flying high above the freshly cut silage fields. With plenty of activity around the reserve it makes it the perfect time to make a visit!
The Countryside team has been busy with a number of different jobs over the past few weeks with general path maintenance being high on the list to help visitors get the most out of their visit to NTS properties in Dumfries and Galloway, selective strimming on paths around the reserve and gardens helps to keep paths clear of vegetation making it far easier to enjoy the estate. By selective strimming rather than strimming all vegetation to the side of the path helps to ensure that plants that are beneficial to insects and other wildlife are not cut but instead left so that they can be used by a wide range of insect and animal life.
Our pair of Ospreys were noted to have changed their behaviour just over a week ago which suggested that chicks had hatched. The female (Blue KC) has continued to brood the young and so far they have been keeping their heads down so we can't currently confirm how many young we have! Behaviour from the female feeding young would however suggest that this year we again have two chicks, but more information on that when we get it!
One of our 2011 chicks during ringing

Its not just the Ospreys that are doing well around the reserve either, Spotted Flycatcher can be found nesting in the Oak trees in Meikle wood and Tree Sparrows are on the up with pairs being found nesting in natural crevices in ash trees on the reserve, a bird that has been hit hard by agricultural change in the past 50 years its great to see this bird of farmland starting to regain a foothold on the reserve.
As well as our resident Tree Sparrows you can also find Grasshopper Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Whitethroat proclaiming their territories and singing from bushes, sedge and reeds right around the reserve, don't forget to listen out for Cuckoo either!

So with lots of activity around the reserve from Mammals to Birds and beyond why not make a visit and look at the Osprey nest from the dedicated Osprey platform with the help of our volunteers?
Blog written by Samuel Hood (Countryside Volunteer)

24 April 2014

Win-Win Work !

NTS Threave Nature Reserve recently welcomed a visit from the Duke of Edinburgh award team based at Abernethy Barcaple.
Abernethy is a group of four Christian Outdoor Adventure Centres. The partnership between Abernethy & NTS Threave provides outdoor activities and skills learning for the participants as well as enabling NTS to complete vital maintenance projects on the reserve. A win-win arrangement.

The team carried out post winter footpath maintenance work at Meikle Wood hill in time for the forthcoming busy Easter period. Many thanks from the Ranger Team for a good hard days work. Job done !!

Dave provides a Safety breifing and Tools Talk to the team prior to starting work.

Typical section of Footpath repairs.

12 March 2014

Clearing up a Storm,,,the Sequel

 Following from the Clearing up a Storm post in February, the Ranger team returned to the scene of storm damage, this time to make repairs to the fence which had been damaged. The great weather helped make it a relatively enjoyable task, however, more importantly, the careful planning involved in terms of risk assessments, and the material and tools required, ensured that the repairs resulted in a robust long lasting repair to stock fencing. The fencing task was carried out as a learning workshop which new volunteer Sarah hugely enjoyed.

Damaged fence being assessed prior to commencing repairs.

Correct tools and personal safety equipment are essential.

10 February 2014

Huge thanks to the Lothian Wallunteers.

The NTS Lothian Conservation Volunteers (CV’s) arrived at Threave Estate Nature Reserve on the weekend of 8th and 9th of Feb, to try their hand at some Dry Stone Walling. They got a bit more than they bargained for though, having to contend with horizontal rain, strong winds and mud, lots and lots of mud all day Saturday.
Saturday morning kicked off with a briefing on Health and safety, tools talk, and a chat about walling. You cannot talk about walling really; it’s a case of just having a go, so we pressed on despite the weather.
A couple of the team had been along to a walling weekend before, so the team was split, some placing top stones on, and the rest sripping out a fallen down section and rebuilding.
The day was cut short due to the weather conditions.
On Sunday morning the option was given whether to carry on or not. The CV’s  unanimously voted to carry on. So with some extra health and safety advice we carried on.
In the morning we took down some tin sheets to lay out the stone on, so they did’nt disappear in the mud.  Up until Tea time it rained, and then faired up, which was fantastic.
All in all, the team made a fantastic job of the wall, which in fact is an on going  project, which solely CVs have been working on over a couple of years.
This time of year is the best time for us to do Walling, as the farmers have removed stock from the feilds. Later in the year the D&G Ranger Team have other priorities.
Once the project is finished, it will be an effective barrier for stock, wildlife corridor and linnear feature, plus a Historical landscape feature.
My heart felt thanks go out to the Lothian CVs, and i’m very, very impressed with their  attitude  overall during the weekend. Not forgetting Clare Hickson, who could not make it, but sent a lovely cake J J J J
Kindest regards,
Dave. T

07 February 2014

Clearing up a Storm !

This week has seen the Ranger team continue to clear up the damage which has been caused by the recent storms combined with high tides. Wind blown trees on tenanted farms on the Threave Estate require clearing away as it may be harmful to livestock, the fallen trees may also have damaged fences or walls which will also require to be repaired to ensure livestock does not gain access to areas such as roads, rivers, field crops.
Dave cutting a fallen Oak tree at Keltonhill Farm, the tree limbs are cut & logged for storage in a safe area.

The coastal path at Rockcliffe also suffered damage as a result of the storms and high tides. The force of the tidal surge washed away sections of path and dumped rock debris, flotsam and jetsam across the paths which resulted in blockages and access restrictions for walkers. Some of the damage was cleared by hand this week, however, more extensive damage will require to be cleared away and the pathways re-instated by contractors with appropriate heavy equipment.

Judy surveys the damage to the coastal path at the Barcloy strip, Rockcliffe.


24 January 2014

Bat Themed Event at Threave Gardens

Mid-term Mischief; Bat themed fun, games, quizzes and craft activities.

Wednesday 19th February 2pm-3.30pm Threave Bat Reserve, Threave Gardens, Castle Douglas DG7 1RX.

Booking essential, contact Jackie on the batphone 07899 711742. £1 per person.

Spartina. Finished!

Yesterday the team and I finished the Spartina marathon! So hopefully it worked and the invasive grass’s spread reduced. 

What Rockcliffe could look like if the invasive cord grass was not controlled.

See older post for all the information on Spartina.

Flooded Castle...

With the storms came flooding, some of the heaviest in living memory. Here is an aerial picture of the castle completely underwater!

It has also affected us here at the reserve.

A picture of the bridge washed away!

Loads to do!


A dozen barnacle geese mixed in with the Pink-footed geese on my front lawn, just before Christmas..................
 Also spotted since!

Generic Sunset on Threave Castle

Generic sunset picture on Threave castle a few nights ago.....

The festive season was not kind to the trees....

Some of the storms that battered our shores were the worst in over 20 years. There was absolute DECIMATION in some parts (the word decimate came from the Roman times when the battalion leader took 10% (dec- meaning 10) of the soldiers and killed them, as a warning to the others. Thanks for that pearl of wisdom Dave).

A familiar site...
160 odd year old trees were being knocked down like matchsticks. However it’s not all bad, it creates LOADS of work for the team and I, bring on the season of the chainsaw!

A picture of me Chainsawing...

However the death of these trees creates a new life for others, as they slowly replace their predecessors, given the new space and light they will receive. Some of the timber will be extracted for firewood but most will be left in the forest. Creating a smorgasbord* of deadwood of differing thicknesses decaying at different rates, useful for different taxa.
*Smorgasbord is the word of the week at the reserve. It means ‘a varied collection.’

20 January 2014

Highland Cattle at Rockcliffe...

Go see the Highland cattle on the bottom meadow at Rockcliffe. Winter grazing of the meadows, keeps the grass down over the winter, so it doesn’t overtake in the Summer. Keeping a richly biodiverse wildflower meadow!

Mystery Tracks???

As well as birds Judy also took a picture of these tracks on the main beach at Rockcliffe! (One of our other properties). Can you guess what it is.................?

It’s an otter.

Hapy New Year!

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to one and all, hope you all enjoyed the festive season. I certainly did, I think I ate my own body weight in mince pies, cheese and port.
With the New Year come fresh objectives, goals and outlook on life. One of mine is to get out, explore and appreciate the natural world.  Sometimes, what is on our doorstep is just as thrilling as being in the back and beyond. Anyway I digress. Get down to Threave NNR (National Nature Reserve) and appreciate the wildlife there. Winter is still here and is such an exciting time of year as far as wildlife is concerned. There are still thousands of geese and wildfowl about; noteworthy species include pintail, shovelar, goosander (ducks), 4 species of goose (Pink-footed by the thousand, Greylag, Canada and White-fronted) and a fair few Whooper Swans. Also one of our dedicated volunteers also spotted a black swan from upper blackpark hide mixed in with a bunch of Whoopers, hopefully I can get a picture of it soon.....!

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