COVID UPDATE: The car park and trails are open. The hides are currently closed.
A peaceful site with plenty to see at any time of year and a real treat for nature lovers. Look out for rare Greenland white-fronted geese in winter or take a stroll to our hides for close views of red squirrels, ducks and other birds.
With stunning views across the River Dee and Loch Ken, this reserve has both wetland and woodland to enjoy. There is a trail to a goose/kite viewing platform and two viewing hides, with interpretation, which provide excellent opportunities for viewing and learning about variety of wildlife.
Red kites can be seen from anywhere on the open parts of the trail at any time of the year, but perhaps the best places to look are over the nearby woods and just above the skyline. The goose/kite viewing platform provides a wonderful panorama over habitat favoured by the kites, and gives a good view of the loch. For information about events on this reserve, check http://www.rspb.org.uk/events/.
In winter the reserve holds an important population of Greenland white-fronted geese, which have distinctive white masks and black bars on their bellies. (The reserve is situated in a Special Protection Area for these wintering geese). Icelandic greylag geese are also present in winter, as is a range of other wildfowl, many of which stay to breed. Lapwing and curlew nest on the surrounding farmland, whilst redshank and snipe breed in the wetter areas. In summer, the broadleaved woods are home to pied flycatcher, wood warbler, nuthatch and a number of more common woodland birds. Elusive willow tits are a Ken-Dee speciality and are occasionally seen feeding around the hides.
Red squirrels are very common in the woodlands and often visit the nut feeders beside the hides. Roe deer and stoats are also quite common, whilst otters are sometimes seen on the lagoon. A few miles south of the reserve, in the middle of the River Dee, is magnificent Threave Castle (managed by Historic Scotland), home to Archibald the Grim in the 14th century. It can be reached by a small ferry boat in the summer season. Nearby are NTS's Threave Nature Reserve as well as Threave House & Gardens, which have a range of additional attractions and visitor facilities.
Follow directions to Castle douglas on A75 road (west of Dumfries) or if travelling from Ayr, follow A713 to crossmichael village and then turn right onto B795 road to Laurieston (junction south of Crossmichael village). Reserve (at Mains of Duchrae) is sign-posted off the Galloway Kite Trail and lies some 3.5 miles north of the B795 at Glenlochar or 2 miles from the A762 north of Laurieston. There is a car park and various interpretative boards and signs to guide visitors.