Red Kite Feeding Station Bellymack Hill Farm, Laurieston, Castle Douglas, DG7 2PJ, GB 01644 450202
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Wildlife around Loch Ken & River Dee

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Wildlife around Loch Ken & River Dee

The open water and wetlands of Loch Ken and the River Dee comprise the largest freshwater body in Southern Scotland and are home to some incredible wildlife.

Wetland Wonders

Large areas of the loch are designated as internationally important winter roosting sites for Greenland white-fronted and Icelandic greylag geese These birds breed in the far north in summer but fly to this area to escape the harsh Arctic winters. They can often be seen at the RSPB’s Ken-Dee Marshes Nature Reserve, or the National Trust for Scotland’s Threave Wildfowl Reserve between October and April.  Both of these sites have parking and viewing facilities. Other wildfowl that spend the winter here include whooper swans, wigeon, goldeneye and pintail duck, whilst mallard, goosander, teal and tufted duck are here throughout the year.

Great-crested grebes are also quite common; look out for their spectacular courtship displays in springtime.

Otters are more elusive, but you may be lucky enough to spot them swimming on the loch.


Woodland Wildlife

Woodlands are great places for red kites, which both breed and roost here. You might also spot breeding pied flycatchers, great–spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches, wood warblers and our shier willow tits. The hides at Ken-Dee Marshes are good places to see and hear all these birds in the spring, and you should look out for red squirrels there throughout the year. Ghostly-white barn owls can be found in good numbers in this part of Galloway, often seen at dusk as they leave roosts in woodlands and farm buildings.


In summer, purple hairstreak butterflies inhabit the oak woodland canopy, whilst ringlets, meadow browns and small pearl-bordered fritillaries can be seen around some woodland edges.  A Galloway speciality is the near-black Scotch argus butterfly, which appears along sheltered roadside verges in late July/early August, during sunny weather. Summer sunshine also brings out reptiles, often hidden as they hunt for insects, spiders or, in the case of adders, mice and voles.

Dumfries & Galloway Leader Local Action Group