Red squirrels, red deer, red kites are just some of the delights you can find in around the southern areas of Dumfries and Galloway. The local countryside and landscape of glens and hills and countryside is the ideal habitat for these cute, majestic and graceful creatures. Discover where you can spot these, other extraordinary animals, wonderful, flora, fauna and wildlife. Many can be spotted right on the doorstep of our farmhouse at Destination Balcary, particularly the wildfowl and seabirds. Take the walk along the Balcary headland to see wild nature all around you.
See below various great locations that you can visit to enjoy the local wildlife, birdlife and explore the stunning natural countryside.
Bainloch Deer Park – Sandyhills
Over 500 head of deer live in the wild hills and coastal setting of Bainloch Deer Park overlooking the Solway Firth. A lovely location to see different species of deer including Japanese sika deer, wild roe deer and largest of them all, the Red Deer. These majestic creatures are Britain’s largest mammal.
Book an hour long tour on one of the 4×4 vehicles to see these wonderful animals in a wild natural setting. Be given expert advice and information by the knowledgeable guides about each breed. There are also excellent ‘Photography Tours of the Park’ which can be offered at both dawn and dusk to get those magical shots.
Directions to Bainloch Deer Park, Laggan Woodlands, Sandyhills, Dalbeattie DG5 4NZ
Bellymack Hill Farm – Kite Feeding Station near Laurieston
Put this on your bucket list of ‘not to miss’! A truly fantastic and spectacular experience of watching these graceful birds of prey soaring and gliding in the thermals and updrafts and diving down for food. The Bellymack kite feeding station creates a congregation of red kites and you will see them close up as you have never seen them before.
The visitor centre provides a good all-weather, close action, viewing platform of all the kite feeding action. The centre and feeding station are open from 1.00 – 4.00pm daily, in summer (March to October) and 1.00 – 3.00pm, in winter time.
The Galloway Kite Trail is a 24 mile circular road trip around Loch Ken with a 16 mile summer trail in the Galloway Forest Park additional option. Spot red kites and view them in their natural habitat and spectacular countryside. Follow the Galloway Kite Trail
Directions & Location: Bellymack Hill Farm – Nr. Laurieston, Castle Douglas, DG7 2PJ
RSPB Mersehead Nature Reserve, Near Southerness Beach
A birdland delight on the Solway coast, set in stunning scenery. This wetland saltmarsh area of Mersehead is popular with breeding waders, wintering wildfowl and barnacle geese, lapwing and pintail. Listen out for the singing of the skylark as they hover above in Spring and early Summer in the meadows. Otters, badgers and roe deer are easiest to see in the summer. Warblers sing by day and barn owls hunt at dusk. The plants of the shoreline and merse are in full flower. Butterflies abound and dragonflies hawk the ditches and marshes.
In winter and early spring, watch the starling murmurations display and spectacular evening dance as they settle down to roost in the marshes.
Follow the two main trails in the reserve – Wetland & Coastal Trail – https://www.rspb.org.uk/globalassets/downloads/documents/reserves/mersehead-trail-guide.pdf
Location: RSPB Mersehead Nature Reserve, Southwick, Dumfries, DG2 8AH
Rockcliffe Village & Beach
Rockcliffe is small and very attractive village within a stunning stretch of rugged and geological coastline that offers a range of habitats and a variety of wildlife. It is a National Scenic Area, this National Trust for Scotland nature reserve is fringed with wildflower meadows, shell and shingle beaches and fringed with broadleaf woodland. Rough Island, is an island bird sanctuary and can be reached on foot at low tide except for May and June when it is closed for breeding birds. Meander through wildflower meadows, enjoy the rocky coastal walks, woodland paths and see the many seabirds, wading birds, colourful butterflies, seals and maybe spot dolphins out to sea. There are many beautiful views and visitors can re-discover the lost citadel at the ancient hilltop, the Mote of Mark.
More Information – Rockcliffe & directions: How to get to Rockcliffe – From Dumfries. head down the A711 to Dalbeattie. Leave Dalbeattie on the A710 heading South and look for signs to Rockliffe.
‘Walk with Alpacas’ at Galloway Alpacas
‘Meet and great’ and ‘walk with alpacas’ in the stunning Galloway countryside with a wonderful coastal backdrop. Set within the UNESCO designated ‘Biosphere’, it is a wonderful way to enjoy experience the wild countryside and great views with these incredibly friendly and lovable creatures from the Andes. A family friendly experience and one that will leave you with some superb memories and photos to remind you of these happy moments.
Galloway Alpacas – At the Glen Farm, Gatehouse of Fleet, Kirkcudbrightshire, DG7 2HG
Threave Estate & Nature Reserve
Explore one of Scotland’s most biodiverse nature reserves, with a remarkable collection of wildlife, flora and fauna. See peregrine falcons, ospreys, bats, red squirrels, kingfishers and otters amongst so much more.
The nature reserve at the Threave Estate is well worth a visit, so too are the house, Threave Castle, the landscaped grounds and the Discovery Gardens. The National Trust for Scotland has managed the 1,500 acres of Threave Garden & Estate since 1948, it provides a safe wildlife haven and home for many species of birds, mammals (including bats) and insects. It is also home to Scotland’s only ‘Bat Reserve’ with eight species of bats.
The nature reserve itself, has great views and is made up of woodland, farmland, wetland and marshes and the River Dee runs through too. The wetlands host a range of rare plants, a huge variety of insects, birds and many other species of animals. It is a Special Protection Area (SPA) and a Ramsar Site (wetlands of international importance).
While you at Threave Estate, do not miss out on visiting the impressive old ruins of Threave Castle on the small island in the River Dee. Now under the care of Historic Scotland, this massive tower house fortification was built in 1369 by Archibald ‘The Grim’, Lord of Galloway. It became the stronghold of the Black Douglases. A ferryman can take you over by boat, just ring the bell!
The island is colourful with wild meadow flowers in summer. Watch out for otters hunting in the river and the occasional osprey circling and in winter you will see Greenland white-fronted geese, hen harrier, marsh harrier and a large range of wildfowl and waders.
More Information: http://wildseasons.co.uk/locations/threave-estate-castle-douglas/204
Threave Estate Circular Walk – Distance: approx. 2.5 miles but can be added to with various detours. Use Threave Gardens rear entrance Car Park – Walk Details:
Location: On the western edge of Castle Douglas, straddling the A75.
Post Code: DG7 1RX
Further Wildlife Inspirations
For more inspirations or where to see great wildlife, nature and Galloway countryside at its absolute best:
- The Red Deer Range
- Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre
- RSPB Ken-Dee Marshes Reserve
- Cairnsmore of Fleet National Nature Reserve (NNR)
- Barrhill Woods
- Cally Gardens
To find where these locations are and get directions from your location, see our Wildlife & Nature Map of Dumfries and Galloway
See more wildlife ideas on our Ross Bay Retreat website and blog.