Dyke Farm Nature Reserve

 

Please note  -  to avoid disturbance to wildlife, dogs are not permitted on our Reserve.
Access to the Reserve is via working farmland so please ensure that
- the designated route to/from the Reserve is followed.
- all gates are securely closed.
- you avoid disturbance to farm animals in the field.

Situated about one mile from the centre of Moffat on the Beattock road, the Reserve, officially opened on 20th June 2004, was created on land kindly made available to the club by George Paterson of Dyke Farm. Our Reserve is one of two adjoining Reserves, the other being the Community Nature Reserve. We recommend visiting both as they have totally different habitats and different wildlife.

Some visitors are confused about which reserve is which! Admittedly ours is less well signposted so we have prepared separate directions to help visitors find our reserve (button on menu at left or use the following link to view them) :
Where to find our Reserve.

There is no charge for entry to the Reserve but donations are, of course, very much appreciated and go entirely towards the cost of running and maintaining the Reserve. Visitors may wander freely throughout the Reserve but, to avoid disturbance to the wildlife, please keep to the pathways. This is especially important during the nesting season. Nest boxes should be left strictly alone.


The Reserve, extending to some 7 acres in total, has undergone extensive work to create viable wetland and woodland habitats. There are three ponds, two hides, four 'picnic areas' with tables and a variety of circular woodland walks with bench seats placed at frequent intervals where visitors can stop and relax while they watch.  There is an extensive range of bird nesting boxes and regular feeding brings the more popular birds close to the observer. Although primarily intended as a haven for birds, the Reserve has a very wide range of other interesting things to offer. Common wildflowers include Ragged Robin, Marsh Marigold, Bugle, Common Valerian, Greater Tussock Sedge (locally rare), Teasel and much more (see Lists page for full details). Peacock, Painted Lady and Small Copper butterflies are common and there are numerous moths which are being assessed over time. Dragonflies, Damselflies and Darters are seen regularly during summer. There is a thriving population of frogs and toads, palmate newts and a common lizard has also been recorded. Mammals include Roe Deer, Fox and Badger as well as the occasional Stoat in addition to the inevitable collection of small mammals such as Moles, Voles and Wood mice. Pipistrelle, Noctule and Long-eared Bats may be seen at dusk. The damper areas of the Reserve produce an autumnal crop of interesting fungi, including the Alder Bracket fungus which is locally rare.

The main hide (the 'Jock Dicerbo' hide, named after the Club President), sited close to the entry gate, is always open. This hide contains a considerable amount of bird watching information, a visitors book and some birdwatching aids. From this hide you can see most of the wetland area and view the numerous waterfowl as well as many small birds coming to the adjacent feeders.

View of Main PondThe main pond has been dredged to provide a variety of water depths to suit different kinds of waterfowl with sticklebacks and minnows introduced as an additional food source. The pond banks have a varied mixture of reeds and long grasses to provide cover and suitable nesting sites for the various species. Willow, beech, birch and alder trees provide additional cover. A bank on the far side is suitable for Sandmartins. Throughout the year you can expect to see the resident population of Mallard and Moorhen while other waterfowl such as Teal, Little Grebe, Canada Geese and Wigeon visit on occasion. Various waders such as Snipe, Jack Snipe and Sandpiper may also be seen. During summer, nesting Sandmartins may be present and later in the year a Kingfisher often visits in the hope of catching some of the small fish. Feeders beside the hide ensure a fair collection of small birds will always be seen and you may also be mobbed by some very friendly ducks! Proceed along the path alongside the wetland and you will find a wide variety of trees and shrubs on the bank. In autumn, many of these will be producing a number of different fruits and berries that should appeal to our birds during the winter.


Our 'workshop' area lies just past the main pond. This area has been enhanced to provide a 'leisure'area with bench seats and a picnic table. There are bird feeders located close by so you can almost certainly see a good selection of small birds here - Chaffinches, Siskins and various Tits - even the Great Spotted Woodpecker, normally a shy bird, is becoming tolerant of human presence. A cock Pheasant may also put in an appearance now and then.


View of Paddy's Pond
There is a choice of route from here. The more interesting way is to keep to the left and cross the small bridge, past the bird feeding area to the middle pond. The middle pond lies approximately in the middle of the reserve and is used more sparsely by the wildfowl. Reeds and tall grasses cover the margins and various water plants grow within the pond itself to give a good habitat for insects and amphibians that spend all or part of their lives in or on water. During the summer there are good numbers of damsel flies, darters and chasers around this pond. It is intended to create a new path going all around this pond in the future, also linking to the outer path at the far side.


View of Woodland PondAfter passing the Middle Pond, you enter the woodland area where there is a good mix of trees and shrubs. Birch, beech, alder, etc, underpinned by bushes gives a good habitat for tits, chaffinches, robin, dunnock, etc. Some of the prolific alder trees have been removed to open up 'flight paths' to the ponds and some of the cleared areas are being replanted with a variety of new trees. A third pond has been created within the woodland area and the small hide gives excellent viewing over the pond and adjacent woodland. This pond is another area where considerable numbers of damselflies and dragonflies can be seen in summer. They are out of sight, of course, but this pond also holds a prolific population of Palmate Newts.
There is another seating/picnic area here that has recently been improved. Further seats and tables will be added in due course. A number of tubs have been planted up using, mainly, flowering plants intended to attract butterflies and other insects.This is a lovely place to stop for a break.

 


From this point you have a choice of routes. If you continue left along the path you will pass through denser woodland where you may see/hear some of our smaller woodland birds but not much else. The dense wood does give rather deep shade but it is still a pleasant walk. Alternatively you can take a short cut via the path alongside the hide and around the top of the pond. Seasonally, this area can be a blaze of colour with masses of wild flowering plants and it holds many of our smaller birds. In autumn there will be a crop of berries, mainly raspberries, that will provide useful food. Either path will take you to another seating area (with a 'high chair' cut from a tree stump and picnic table) giving another idyllic place to pause. There is also an excellent view of the hills to the east. Continue right alongside the main ditch and you will come to yet another 'picnic area' complete with table and views to the hills. If you step cautiously towards the bank you may well be lucky enough to see some sticklebacks in the water. Following the path will take you back to another ditch alongside the main wetland. The path then follows this ditch to bring you back to the workshop area. But you can also cross the ditch and go up the bank to "Jock's seat" or even beyond to another bench seat right at the top of the bank. Both of these give superb views over the wetland area. The path continues as far as the sluice bridge. We do not recommend proceeding further as there is currently no suitable path so return to the ditch and follow it to the workshop area. There is a path of sorts going alongside the wetland side of the ditch but it can be quite wet and muddy so we do not recommend it - and we are considering discontinuing it. A decision will be made after all digger operations are completed.

The 'Orchard' area - not immediately obvious is an open area at the extreme northern end of the Reserve. In conjunction with Moffat CAN, this was planted up with fruit trees to form an orchard. At this time, there is no footpath leading to this area - the only way is to cross the main ditch via one of the bridges and then go upstream until you reach it and it is 'rough going'. Not a lot of wildlife to see at present but, as the trees mature, there is considerable potential for this area. Future plans are for a proper path and possibly one or more picnic spots in this area.

As a measure of its success, well over 100 species of bird have been recorded on the Reserve since its creation. While many are common and resident, quite a few are transient visitors, some quite unusual, that have obviously been attracted by what this area has to offer. There is a very strong presence of Stock Doves on the reserve with often upwards of six breeding pairs and, in 2013, a pair of Barn Owls bred on the reserve for the first time.A full listing of birds, plants, etc, recorded on the Reserve can be found on our 'Lists' pages. Various studies are being carried out from time to time to further assess the nature and extent of the plant and insect life to be found on the Reserve. As the results become available, details will be published on this site.

Maintenance is a major problem for the club. The main ongoing projects are to thin out the dense alder that is dominating our woodland and to continue improve our network of paths and seating areas using woodchips obtained from the removed trees. As well as being low maintenance, the new pathways are comfortable and quiet to walk on - and environmentally friendly. In the fullness of time, additional paths will be created, one around the Middle Pond, one to go entirely around the main pond and another along the far bank of the main ditch up to the orchard area and, eventually, around it. Visitors will then have a good choice of circular routes covering the whole reserve.

All work is done by volunteers during their limited free time so it is inevitable that some parts are not as well maintained as they could be. We are always looking for helpers - our work days are Wednesdays and Saturdays from 10.00am. Anyone willing to come and give us a hand would be most welcome! Funding is also an issue so we are always looking for new members and/or donations. Unlike many organisations that rely on various grants, we are entirely self-funded so every penny raised is much appreciated and will be put to good use!