Saturday, 16 April 2016

Seeing red....

I recently visited Historic Scotland Threave castle- well known for its breeding pair of Ospreys (in nearby trees I hasten to add!). Walking along trails maintained by the National Trust for Scotland, I came across the jetty and landing area for the small boat journey across the River Dee- the only access to the castle. The amazing tower creates a formidable scene and transports your imagination back to the 14th century when it was home to the Earls of Douglas.

Threave Castle (photo Laura Shearer)
Ospreys on the nest at Threave (photo Laura Shearer)
Continuing on the trails I came across a viewing platform for the Osprey nest. A lovely NTS volunteer was on hand, explaining more about their incredible migration and feeding techniques whilst offering views through a telescope. Soaring in the sky above them was 3 Red Kites- a common sight in Dumfries and Galloway after their reintroduction in 2001-2005. Agitated by their presence, a pair of Common Buzzards swooped and dive bombed the kites until they flew off into the distance. This was shaping up to be an amazing visit!

The marsh hides at the far end of the reserve provided excellent views onto the River Dee which was covered in wading birds such as Lapwings, Curlew, Redshank and Oystercatchers. Outside the trees were buzzing with singing Willlow Warblers- my first sightings of this species this year.

Suddenly I caught a glimpse of red- a Red Squirrel running up a tree. As if this wasn't exciting enough- another 2 Red Kites flew overhead. This was definitely a trip to remember!

Driving along the A75 I decided to visit Kirroughtree ran by the Forestry Commission. Known for its long walks through the Galloway forest park, it is an excellent place to start a nature hike. One hide situated close to the car park is surrounded by tall trees and feeders. Within seconds of sitting down I could hear some shuffling up one of the trees. Down came a Red Squirrel which nibbled on some peanuts mere feet away from where I sat - I was literally frozen to the spot with awe!

Red squirrels at Threave (left) and Kirroughtree (right)- photos Laura Shearer
Birding around Dumfries and Galloway, I am always surprised with what I see. On Thursday night whilst out with friends, we stumbled across some Red Deer- my first sighting of this species in the region. Admiring them from the car, they started rutting and playing with each other before jogging off into the horizon. What an amazing fortnight of wildlife sightings I have had!

Red deer, Dumfries and Galloway (photo Laura Shearer)

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