TWEED Valley enthusiasts are holding the first wildlife festival in the Borders next month.
The two-day event, organised by community group Friends of Kailzie, is aimed at promoting the area as a wildlife viewing destination.
Renowned naturalist and one of the world’s leading experts on ospreys, Roy Dennis will open the festivities on Saturday, June 9.
The weekend is part of a larger initiative, Kailzie Local Area Wildlife Education and Discovery (KLAWED), set up by Friends of Kailzie to create opportunities for more people to see and learn about wildlife in the Tweeddale area.
Friends of Kailzie secretary Diane Bennett said: “The aim is to celebrate the Tweed Valley and showcase what a very special place it is for wildlife, to introduce wildlife to people through guided walks and activities and give people the chance to actively engage with wildlife.”
There will be talks from Roy Dennis, who is also a guest presenter on the television programme Springwatch, the Scottish Ornithological Club’s Ray Murray and local RSPB officer Mike Fraser among others. Ospreys, moths and bees will top the bill and experts will demonstrate moth trapping, bird ringing, tree climbing, wood turning, dry stane dyking and other country skills. And there will be kids’ activities and games, bushcraft and outdoor art.
Ms Bennett said: “We have got amazing wildlife. We really want to showcase the fact that this is a special area and that with habitat management we could improve it... We want people to see this area as a centre for excellence for viewing wildlife.”
She continued: “The Tweed Valley supports many birds of conservation concern, the iconic species being the osprey, but threatened species of wader such as curlew, snipe, woodcock, lapwings and oystercatchers all use this region as a nesting area.
“Kailzie is an absolute stronghold within the Borders to see nesting species such as nuthatch and spotted flycatcher. The gardens make ideal habitat and the mature trees within the grounds provide nest sites and are aided further with the provision of nest boxes.”
Guided tours will include pond dipping, stream dipping, bug and beastie hunts, mammal trapping, bird watching and heritage trees tour. There will be a honey bee display and a birds of prey show as well as the chance to make bird and bat boxes and wooden animals.
For children there’s a Wildlife It’s a Knockout. Wellybooters, run by teacher Catherine Midgely and operating out of Kailzie, will be putting on outdoor activities for kids. And Earthwiseways, a Yarrow Valley outdoors company, will be getting families involved in wild camps, bushcraft and outdoor artwork.
Saturday evening brings a summer feast in Kailzie courtyard: “It should be really fabulous and good fun, “ said Ms Bennett.
The talks will be held in the osprey and nature watch centre from visitors will also have the chance to see the upgraded facilities and view footage from the new high definition cameras trained on the osprey family, herons, the river and meadow.
Ms Bennett said: “There is also an underwater pond camera, blue tit nest camera and, hopefully by the time of the festival, swallows on camera at their nest site too.”
Owner of Kailzie Estate, Lady Angela Buchan-Hepburn said: “The festival is the flagship event of the KLAWED project. It’s new and it’s such a good idea, there isn’t anything like this in the Borders at the moment. We hope to make it a regular event visitors can look forward to each year.”
The entry fee of £10 and £5 will include visiting the estate gardens. Kailzie’s courtyard restaurant will be open and there will also be food and retail stalls.
Friends of Kailzie was set up in June 2010 and the festival is being funded from the £155,000 Leader and Scottish Natural Heritage grant gained for the KLAWED Project last year.
For further information visit www.kailziewildlife.org or call 01721 720007.