Celebrate southern flora and fauna

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Nature festivals unite in a first for the border regions

For the first time ever, two of Scotland’s prestigious nature festivals are uniting to showcase more than 150 family-friendly events taking place in the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway throughout April, May and June.

The Scottish Borders Nature Festival has joined forces with The Dumfries & Galloway Wild Spring Festival (Scotland’s largest and longest- running wildlife festival) to celebrate the diversity of flora and fauna that can be discovered throughout the regions in a fascinating programme of events.

To mark Scotland’s Year of Food and Drink, both festivals are also set to reveal a series of events with a special focus on the areas’ outstanding natural larder.

Almost all events will be free or will charge a modest admission of under £5 per person. Most are led by local wildlife or conservation experts and take in a host of natural delights, including the iconic red squirrel, migrating geese, bats, badgers, butterflies and moths, otters, red kites, osprey, red deer, goats, gannets and sharks.

Project manager for the Southern Uplands Partnership and spokesperson for the South of Scotland Wild Festivals, Pip Tabor said: “By uniting The Dumfries and Galloway Wild Spring Festival and the Scottish Borders Nature Festival, we hope to shine a spotlight on the naturally inspiring countryside, forests, gardens and coastline (around 250 miles of it) across the south of Scotland.

“There are so many wonderful experiences on offer for families and wildlife enthusiasts from near and far to discover amidst the outstanding areas of natural beauty in Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders.

“Many events at these festivals are free and the local nature reserves and forestry visitor centres are second to none, offering the perfect way to get out in the fresh air and explore the south of Scotland this spring.”

Organisations organising festival events include the RSPB, the Forestry Commission, the Scottish Wildlife Trust (SWT), the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT), Borders Forest Trust, Scottish Borders Council and Dumfries and Galloway Council, as well as a variety of independent local heritage attractions and estates.

The full programme will be announced in early 2015, but highlights 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. (Monday April 6 to Sunday April 19 from 8pm)

● 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 Dumfries & Galloway Wild Spring Festival)

● 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 (numerous dates throughout the Dumfries & Galloway Wild Spring Festival).

● Wild Forest Food: the Future in Ettrick Forest at Corehead Farm. Join the Borders Forest Trust for a walk in the young native woodland that is helping to restore the historic Ettrick Forest. Identify the trees, learn about their folklore and sample some of the food produce that the forest will provide, such as cob nut biscuits and birch sap cordial. (Saturday April 25 10.30am to 12.30)

● Moth Breakfast at Whitmuir Organics, West Linton. Enjoy some delicious local produce for breakfast while overnight moth traps are opened and the beasties are identified and released. (Saturday June 6).

● Wildlife Family Fun at Harestanes Visitor Centre in Jedburgh. A chance to try pond-dipping, making a nest box or creating your own nature art. Lots of activities and hands-on advice from wildlife experts too. (Dates TBC)

Booking is essential for some of the events – please see the website for further information on dates, times, costs and kit required.

For the latest news about Scottish Borders Nature Festival and the The Dumfries & Galloway Wild Spring Festival, visit www.wildseasons.co.uk. Searchable events listings will be made available on this website early in 2015.