Finding wildlife in Dumfries & Galloway

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Year of Natural Scotland 2013
Year of Natural Scotland 2013

Celebrate Scotland's natural beauty throughout 2013

VisitScotland Dumfries and Galloway What to See and Do Guides
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  • Looking out over a flock of birds at the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve
    A flock of birds at the Caerlaverock National Nature Reserve
  • Two walkers look out from the Bennan Viewpoint on the Galloway Red Kite Trail
    The Bennan Viewpoint on the Galloway Red Kite Trail
  • A close up of a red kite soaring high above Bellymack Hill Farm in Dumfries & Galloway
    A red kite soaring high above Bellymack Hill Farm in Dumfries & Galloway

Discover the abundance of wildlife in Dumfries & Galloway, from migrant birds flocking to the Mull of Galloway in autumn to carpets of bluebells in woodland along the River Cree. Visit the region’s many nature reserves, parks and gardens to see the wildlife in its natural surroundings.

With a varied landscape of rolling hills, vast forests and sandy shores, Dumfries & Galloway provides the perfect habitat for a diverse range of wildlife. The region even has its own festival to celebrate its natural beauty. Enjoy the tranquillity of woodland walks and hundreds of miles of coastline that are waiting to be explored.

Coasts

Look to the seas during a walk around the Mull of Galloway, Scotland’s most southerly point, where you can spot Atlantic grey seals, harbour porpoises, otters and even basking sharks, minke whales and bottlenose dolphins. Take a walk around the stunning 200 miles of coastline along the Solway Firth in summer, and on the rocky crags of the shore you’ll see nesting guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes. In winter, the nearby natural wetlands attract over 40,000 wildfowl and 83,000 waders.

Birds

Pay a visit to Caerlaverock Wetland Centre and the nearby Mersehead RSPB Reserve, two wonderful reserves which are great places to see the wintering flocks of thousands of barnacle geese and whooper swans - one of Scotland’s great wildlife spectacles.The skies above the region are also home to many graceful birds of prey. Follow the Galloway Kite Trail for an almost certain sighting of the beautiful red kite, once extinct in Scotland. The Bellymack Farm feeding station has seen up to 30 birds at one time. In Wigtown, you can watch live CCTV coverage of ospreys sitting on their eggs and bringing up their young. The species has been returned to the wild in Dumfries & Galloway after over 100 years.

Forests

Stretching 300 sq m, the Galloway Forest Park has a blend of conifer forests, glens, lochs and grassy upland. Due to its lush green forest and heather clad hills, a variety of wildlife such as red squirrels, pine martens and dragonflies thrive here. Red deer and wild goats can also be spotted roaming freely in the uplands, where birds of prey including the hen harrier and the occasional golden eagle hunt. Step onto the special viewing platform on Carrick Forest Drive to spot the area’s rare black grouse and watch out for red squirrels scurrying around the park. A great place to see more red squirrels is in Dalbeattie Forest, which has a waymarked Red Squirrel Walk.

Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park

Situated on Scotland’s south-west coast, Dumfries & Galloway benefits from warm air blowing in from the Gulf Stream. This allows more tropical plants to flourish, particularly in the west of the region. At the Galloway Wildlife Conservation Park visitors can see a fantastic collection of native and exotic plants and animals amongst 27 acres of woodland, from meerkats to native Scottish wildcats.

National Nature Reserves

Dumfries and Galloway has four National Nature Reserves helping to protect a diverse range of wildlife and landscapes, managed primarily for the conservation of habitats and species of national and international significance, but people are welcome to visit too. From the lush flora at Cairnsmore of Fleet to threatened habitats at Kirkconnell Flow, the reserves are home to a wondreful range of wildlife from wild flowers to lizards and adders basking in the warm sun.

Wildlife festival

The Dumfries & Galloway Wild Spring Festival is held every year with over 100 wildlife events. The festival takes place over 64 days and hosted by local guides and experts who take pride in showing visitors the region’s natural beauty explored.

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