I’ve just got back from a few days camping in Dumfries & Galloway; I had an amazing time and it was jam packed with adventures and I saw some outstanding wildlife. It was so full on, that I feel like I need another holiday just to relax!
When we got home me and my Mum & Dad sat outside and had a BBQ and fire and wrote this blog together
Our first day trip was to the Threave Estate, which is split over 2 sites. We visited the Threave Castle and Nature Reserve bit where Ospreys are nesting and fishing over the River Dee; there’s a great viewing platform and telescopes set up to look straight into the nest. The wardens were unsure as to how many chicks there were and asked people to take photos if they could see their heads bobbing up. We got some great views of the ospreys; the male took off to a higher perch just as I was taking a photo. I always learn something new when I go to nature reserves and this time I found out that the ospreys will travel to fish and that they flew to near where we were staying in Kirkcudbright.
As with all good nature reserves Threave has some great habitats – woodlands, fields, marshes, arable fields – which in turn brings fantastic wildlife. from small birds, such as swallows, which were nesting in the toilets, to larger birds of prey (and my favourite) like peregrines, which were apparently nesting with chicks in the castle.
Speaking of the castle, you can access this via boat by ringing a bell – how cool is that!
We got some cheeky glimpses of lone roe deer poking out of the reeds and the spring wildflowers were incredible and made the walk even more fantastic.
Other wildlife we saw – 2 goosanders (diving duck that catches fish), reed bunting, red kites, orange tipped and red admiral butterflies and possibly one of the highlights of the day…….A KINGFISHER!!!
Later, we went over to Threave Café and Visitors Centre for a brew and cake; they had a campaign called ‘Bee at Threave’, which was all about the protection/conservation of bees; I bought 2 mixed bee-friendly seed plants, which I planted back at home. I love the way they used round hay bales to create giant bees! Sadly, we ran out of time to visit the gardens – hoping to check them out one day though!
Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park
I’ve been visiting the Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park for a number of years now and I love the way it blends in to the natural landscape, creating some really good natural environments for the animals. Whilst it feels like a zoo they do have an active conservation breeding programme going on and I like that they give you information about how endangered the species are.
It was great to see a couple of mice/vole darting in and out of the owl enclosure – they better be careful, cos one wrong move and they’d be history! It was also great to see a treecreeper hoping up the same tree as the porcupine! I also got to handle a Royal Python, which was well cool as I could feel it’s muscular, strong body.
All the animals are great, but we all agreed that our favourite animal was the red panda – it was just so gorgeous and unbelievably cute
Cream o’ Galloway
If you like ice cream and if you like outdoor adventures then you must visit the Cream o’ Galloway. On this visit we rode our bikes along the different tracks and went in search of adders!! There’s loads of signs stating that they are in the area and to be very cautious.
The bike ride through the beautiful landscape (we saw a pyramid orchid here) was really cool, whilst it was challenging going up hills, it was great fun shooting down them, whilst rodents and small birds darted past.
We walked to the area where adders are known to nest and I spotted them amongst the bracken straight away. It’s incredible to see a snake in real life, rather than in captivity, behind glass in a zoo, it’s such a privilege. The Deadly 60 presenter, Steve Backshall was once bitten by an adder and he said it was one of the most painful things ever, so if you go in search of these beautiful creatures, be very cautious too!
We stayed at Brighouse Bay and for a big campsite, it’s really nicely landscaped. There’s lots of trees and flowers and some amazing wildlife ponds.
When we first arrived we went for a walk around one of the larger ponds, where we saw 2 adult swans, with 3 cygnets. Over the next few days we saw them every day and they certainly made it known that this was their territory!
All is calm……….
and then it all kicks off, as a pair of geese try to nest in the same area.
FIGHT – what a spectacle
We went fishing a couple of times and didn’t have much success in the pond where we’d previously caught a huge carp. We switched ponds and I soon caught my first (we think) rudd. It was so exciting, being so close to nature, feeling the weight and the strength of the fish on my rod and then admiring the beauty of the green and red colours of the fish.
The different ponds are so up my street as herons visited regularly, there were tadpoles in abundance, dancing damselflies and the yellow flag iris and white water lilies were incredible. You could spend all day watching goldfinch, thrushes, rabbits and blackbirds, it was just great.
Just near the campsite on the bay, we came across this really scarce plant. It’s called perennial flax and it was growing in the vegetated sand dunes – WOW!! Here’s a short video to show you how beautiful it was.
No holiday is complete without a cheeky plant purchase; I bought the 2 bee friendly plants and a succulent for the rock garden.
I saw so much wildlife whilst travelling around too, including red kites, hunting buzzards, the classic hovering, kestrel and super fast sparrowhawk. There were lapwings, oyster catchers and shellducks and I never tire of seeing rabbits and hares and believe me there were loads!
Dumfries and Galloway is a perfect area for nature lovers like me, with its diverse range of habitats such as sea, wetlands, marshes, farms and dunes – I can’t wait to go back!
Back to school next week, but I’ve got some exciting things coming up, including RHS Chatsworth Flower Show and I can’t wait!!!