image credit: Keith Kirk
Dumfries and Galloway Wild Spring Festival 5 April – 5 May 2014
With nature awaking after the winter a host of species migrate home to spend the summer in Dumfries & Galloway.
The region is teeming with wildlife in spring, a special time of year which promises wildlife enthusiasts abundant opportunities to experience brilliant birdlife and amazing animals up close.
Dumfries and Galloway’s Wild Spring Festival, Scotland’s largest and longest running wildlife festival, will, in 2014, present its biggest programme with over 100 family-friendly events, many of which are free or charge a modest admission of under £5 per person.
Almost all events are led by wildlife experts from the region and take in natural delights from bats to badgers and from delicate moths to mighty sharks and not forgetting the regions cheekiest inhabitant the red squirrel. It is an excellent time of year to get out and explore the regions naturally inspiring countryside, forests and coastline (all 200 miles of it!).
Wilma Finlay Chairperson of the Wild Spring Festival said:
“This year will be our biggest and best festival and we’re looking forward to visitors from near and far coming along to witness some of the miraculous wildlife Dumfries & Galloway offers. There are so many wonderful experiences on offer for families and wildlife enthusiasts alike. Many of our events are free, our nature reserves and forestry visitor centres are second to none and what better way to enjoy the Easter holidays, than out in the fresh air exploring nature.”
Highlights from the programme include:
Stars ‘n’ Stripes Badger Watching at Caerlaverock WWT. Witness these fascinating nocturnal creatures from a cosy vantage point with a mug of hot chocolate in hand. (5 – 13 April, nightly)
Wilderness Canoe Trip at Galloway Activity Centre. Take a peaceful paddle along picturesque Loch Ken, one of the best ways to spot wildlife (daily throughout the festival)
Explore a Wild Shore at Powillimount Beach. Join the Solway Firth Partnership for a ranger led walk looking out for shells and fossils, ideal event for all the family. (6 April)
Mull of Galloway Guided Walk Join the RSPB Ranger to explore Scotland’s most southerly tip – spring is a great time to spot seabirds on the cliffs and if you’re lucky perhaps a porpoise or basking shark. (numberous dates throughout the month)
Wee Woodland Beasties at Eskrigg Reserve, Lockerbie. Hunt and identify mini-beasts in the woodland. (11 April)
Mocha and Moths at Mersehead. Not all moths are brown, dull and boring – view some recent finds as they are released and find out more about the various species found in the area, with a morning coffee to enjoy. (17 April and 1 May)
Galloway Kite Trail Open Day at Bellymack Farm, Lauriston. Meet the RSPB officers for a visit to the feeding station to see these mighty birds up close and find out more about their reintroduction to the area. (26 April)
Red Squirrel – Food for Thought at Kirroughtree Visitor Centre – Food for thought . Enjoy some delicious food and hear from Heinz Traut about the Red Squirrel Conservation Project and its work in this area. (2 May)
Family Forest Foraging and Wild Cook-In at Cally Woods, Gatehouse of Fleet – Join expert forager Mark Williams of Galloway Wild Foods for a guided foray exploring the delicious, healthy and surprising array of edible spring plants and fungi. Enjoy a wild cook-in of our finds in the forest afterwards. (12 April)
Wildlife Sea Kayaking at The Mull of Galloway – a guided paddle for experienced kayakers – with fantastic views of the wonderful birdlife around the Mull. Seabirds here include Guillemot, Fulmar, Raven, Black-backed Gulls and Puffin. (13th April)
**Booking is essential for some of the events – please see the website for further information on dates, times, costs and kit required.
This year the Wild Spring Festival will mark the Year of Homecoming 2014 by celebrating the species that come home to the region for spring, including ospreys, pied flycatchers and basking sharks.
Two exceptional new centres have opened in Dumfries and Galloway recently, which will make wildlife and bird watching even more rewarding. Opening early 2014, the new visitor centre at Kirroughtree is the gateway to the extensive walking and cycling paths of the Galloway Forest Park, Britain’s largest forest park and also designated the UK’s first Dark Sky Park. And the recently opened Sir Peter Scott Observatory at WWT Caerlaverock offers visitors opportunities to see the spectacular birdlife of the adjacent wetlands from its two story tower.
More details on the festival and a full, searchable listing of events can be found at www.wildseasons.co.uk