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.

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

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...