When Major Alan Gordon gave Threave Estate to the Trust in 1948, he asked that we would provide a place of sanctuary where wintering wildfowl could roost and feed without disturbance.

We’re proud to have fully embraced this request: Threave Nature Reserve, consisting of wetlands and marshes, is now a vital element of the estate. The wetlands are a Ramsar site and a Special Protection Area, internationally recognised for the significant numbers of wildfowl that live here. This is especially important in winter when migratory geese from the Arctic Circle make Threave their home. Call in at the hides throughout the wetlands to view the rich diversity of wildlife.

In addition, Threave is home to healthy populations of red squirrels, bats and birds of prey. Perhaps the most famous of these are the ospreys, which have been nesting on the reserve for over a decade. Between March and September, you can visit our Osprey Viewing Platform, just beyond the boat jetty for Threave Castle. It’s staffed by dedicated volunteers who can tell you all about these magnificent birds.

Several years ago we started Threave Bat Reserve, Scotland’s first dedicated protected habitat for these amazing animals. With eight resident species (the eighth, the Leisler’s Bat, was only verified as resident in late 2018), we have more varieties living here than anywhere else in Scotland. During the summer (bats hibernate in winter) you can join our conservation team of staff and volunteers who use special bat detectors to record numbers and identity by sound which species are active. Keep an eye on our Events page for details of bat walks.

In the garden itself, you can explore the red squirrel hide, take part in a mini-beast hunt, or play for a while in the Discovery Garden − all great fun for children and families.

You can also check out our wildlife spotter’s guide for Threave, and see how many you can spot during your next visit:

Wildlife spotter’s guide: Threave Garden & Estate