• New Habitats

    RSPB Mersehead Blog 11th-17th September 2021

    From September to April, wader and wildfowl surveys are conducted every other week across both our Mersehead and Kirkconnnel reserves. Once a month this data is sent to the British Ornithological Trust’s (BTO) Wetland Bird Survey database (WeBS). As expected, the numbers recorded on the first count were lower than mid-winter counts, with numbers building up with the arrival of overwintering…

    • 17 Sep 2021
  • Artistic License

    RSPB Mersehead Blog 4th - 10th September 2021

    September feels very much like a transitional month here at Mersehead, both in terms of the focus of the habitat work, and the wildlife on the reserve.  If I had to come up with an analogy, I would say that it feels like we are creating a new page in a child’s sticker book; taking a big tractor shaped brush, painting over the summer landscape and adding the autumn-winter base…

    • 10 Sep 2021
  • Second Streak of the Year

    RSPB Mersehead blog 28th August – 3rd September 2021

    September has arrived and signs of autumn are appearing. The nights are noticeably drawing in, the evenings are cooler, leaves are turning golden and birds are flocking together.

    Warm and sunny days have continued and keeping one keen eye on the vegetation can reveal some brightly coloured and fascinating finds. The caterpillar of the Knot Grass moth is bright…

    • 2 Sep 2021
  • Diversifying the Menu for Pollinators

    RSPB Mersehead Blog 21st - 27th August 2021

    Nutrient stripping has been carried out in the species rich grassland, to the right of the path to the Bruaich Hide, with the intention to greatly reduce the abundance of Fat hen giving more scope for wild flowers to populate the area. This involved raking and removing cut vegetation which was completed by our trusty volunteer work party. The local wildlife came to keep us company…

    • 27 Aug 2021
  • Poplar Moths and Popular Perches

    RSPB Mersehead Blog 14th - 20th August, 2021

    Having spent over a month as a residential volunteer at Mersehead, it is now my turn to share the highlights of the week on the reserve. I hope you enjoy!

    This week, the Tuesday Work Party spent the day clearing litter from the foreshore and dunes, with an area heading east from the main visitor trail to the high dunes being covered.  As well as small fragments of plastic, faded…

    • 20 Aug 2021
  • Sedges Have Edges (most of the time)

    RSPB Mersehead Blog 7th - 13th August 2021

    Three of the team spent a fascinating and very enjoyable day last Saturday with the Kirkcudbrightshire Botany Group, led by David Hawker.  This local group aims to:

    • Encourage more people to enjoy and record plants in the county and contribute as part of a national recording scheme
    • Get to know VC73’s rare and scarce plants and record population data for monitoring
    • Train…
    • 13 Aug 2021
  • On the Move

    RSPB Mersehead Blog 31st July – 6th August 2021

    This week we have started our summer habitat work in the wetland compartments, preparing these areas for the autumn and the arrival of the wintering wildfowl and waders. The Belted Galloway herd was moved from the Visitor Centre field at the start of the week so that we could mow the invasive soft rush. The dry ground conditions meant that the tractor was able to reach…

    • 6 Aug 2021
  • Habitat Management: The Art of Delegation

    RSPB Mersehead Blog 24th - 30th July 2021

    The Mersehead team has grown with the recent arrival of Luke and Amy, who have joined us as residential volunteers.  We are very pleased to welcome them,  and they will be playing a vital role in assisting with both habitat management and visitor engagement over the coming 7 months.

    We saved some ragwort for a new residential volunteers. Photo credit: P. Radford

    Over the past week…

    • 30 Jul 2021
  • Hay Hay there Wainscot

    RSPB Mersehead Blog 10th – 23rd July 2021

    Firstly, apologies for the lack of blog last week and hence the length of this one! With the high pressure and temperatures soaring to 30C we have been making hay at Mersehead. It can be quite tense hay making in Scotland as you need at least a week of high pressure and a good dry heat. Nerves start to jangle as you check the weather constantly and finally make the decision…

    • 22 Jul 2021
  • Out Standing in the Field

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 2 July – 9 July 2021

    With the summer survey season drawing to a close, estate and vegetation work become the priority.  This shift in focus did initially leave me concerned about when I would find the opportunity to gather sightings from around the reserve for the blog.  However, I shouldn’t have worried as despite the binoculars and camera not often being close at hand, much of what…

    • 8 Jul 2021
  • Natterjack Toadlets

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 26th June – 2nd July 2021

    After weeks of surveys and careful monitoring, this week brought the delight of finding the first Natterjack toadlets! The first surveys, back at the end of April, were spent searching for spawn strings. The location of these strings marked; we have returned twice a week to monitor their progression. The first major change comes when the strings of eggs hatch…

    • 2 Jul 2021
  • The Belties have Arrived!

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 19th – 25th June 2021

    The most exciting sighting of the week has to be the Belted Galloway herd which arrived at Mersehead on Tuesday. We aim to trial holistic regenerative grazing at Mersehead this summer both with the Galloway and the Aberdeen Angus herd. This technique involves grazing for a short duration at a high density followed by a longer than usual grass recovery phase. This…

    • 24 Jun 2021
  • Meadow in the making

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 12th June – 18th June 2021

    The final round of wader and wildfowl surveys was brought to a close on Saturday, walking across the saltmarsh in the morning sun. The yellow flower of Silverweed decorates the saltmarsh at the moment. Its saucer-shaped flowers appear alongside the creeping silver leaves. Despite no breeding waders having been found in this area, Oystercatcher from the fields…

    • 17 Jun 2021
  • Keeping an eye on the forecast

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 5th June – 11th June 2021

    Discussing the weather is a favourite British pastime, but when it comes to working in conservation, it often dictates what we can do throughout the week.  Weather apps are constantly checked and compared, and even when all seems to be going to plan, a sudden change in conditions can catch us out and leave heads being scratched.

    We aim to conduct butterfly…

    • 11 Jun 2021
  • Not Seen You Here Before?!

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 29th May – 4th June 2021

    Sunhats and sun cream were suddenly required this week as temperatures soared to 23oC. These high temperatures will accelerate the development of the Natterjack tadpoles as the temperature of the water in the pools increases. Our survey on Wednesday estimated around 4,500 natterjack tadpoles at varying stages of development including some starting to develop…

    • 4 Jun 2021
  • Spotlight Blog: A first hand account of long-term residential volunteering at Mersehead

    Having been a member of the team since last October, no one is better placed than Beth to describe what lays in store for our future long-term residential volunteers. 

    My time as a residential volunteer

    My time at RSPB Mersehead has given me varied and rewarding experience of life on a nature reserve. On placement as part of my Natural Sciences degree, I came to Mersehead with a keen interest in animal behaviour and conservation…

    • 31 May 2021
  • Eggs and Bacon

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 22nd–28th May 2021

    Greenness is expanding everywhere, helped by the welcome rain, and Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Siskins have been singing from the cover of verdant hedgerows. Not far into the woodland, a Spotted flycatcher, our latest summer migrant, was seen amongst the trees. And against a backdrop of green hills, a Roe Deer stood proud in the fields.

    Roe Deer. Photo credit…

    • 28 May 2021
  • Tales of the Unexpected

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 15th–21st May 2021

    Returning to Mersehead after a week away, it was surprising to see how much can noticeably change in such a short period of time.  This was highlighted on a short morning walk which started at the hedgerow along the main track.  The foliage of the Hawthorn and Blackthorn is becoming quite dense now, creating a wildlife corridor which blocks out the view of the adjacent…

    • 21 May 2021
  • Natter Natter

    With this having been the warmest week in May, temperatures reached the dizzying heights of 19oC, it is no surprise that we have seen a flurry of Natterjack toad activity. Sunday night saw us out completing the third adult population survey. During this survey we count and measure the toads to gain an understanding of the population dynamics. Young toads are of course smaller, measuring around 40mm long, whereas older…

    • 14 May 2021
  • Conspicuous by their absence

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 1st–7th May 2021

    Barnacle Geese were gathering in large numbers towards the end of last week, moving restlessly between fields and swirling in impressive, messy groups. It was a shift in the weather at the weekend, notably a change in the wind direction, which gave them the go ahead for their departure. Their 2,000-mile journey will start by heading across the Atlantic and up the Norwegian…

    • 7 May 2021
  • This weather is too cold, this weather is too windy, but this weather is just right

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 24th –30th April 2021

    Talking about the weather is a favourite British pastime, but more than being a convenient topic of conversation, at Mersehead a constant eye on the forecast is needed to both plan our work and offer some explanation for what we are seeing and hearing around the reserve.

    An area of low pressure has seen daytime and night-time temperatures plummet, partly due…

    • 30 Apr 2021
  • All Systems go!

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 17th – 23rd April 2021

    After a slightly delayed start to their breeding season due to the cold weather the Mersehead Natterjack toad colony are finally off to a flying start! A full survey of the breeding pools found a total of 18 spawn strings with an average water temperature of 14.5oC. We also found 3 pairs in amplexus during the survey. Although we have seen the night air temperature…

    • 23 Apr 2021
  • The wonderful world of reeds

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 10th – 16th April 2021

    Often, by this time of the year, survey season could be well underway with most of the week spent surveying a mixture of insects, birds and reptiles. However, the cold temperatures and inclement conditions have put these surveys on hold. The Water Rail survey is thankfully less dependent on warmer weather, and on Wednesday morning we headed out to the reedbed…

    • 16 Apr 2021
  • Looks can be deceiving

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 3rd April – 9th April 2021

    It has been a week in which the migrants, who continue to arrive from the south, may be wishing they had delayed their departure from the tropics.  Instead of being greeted by warm, spring sunshine, the much anticipated summer visitors to Mersehead have, along with the rest of us, been blasted by freezing cold Arctic air which has brought strong winds, freezing…

    • 9 Apr 2021
  • Preparing for a World Champion

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 27th March – 2nd April 2021

    It was fabulous to see 39 Whooper Swans stopping off at Mersehead over the weekend. Wind gusts of 50mph and driving rain, meant the reserve was the perfect location for a feeding break in their migration. Once they leave the shores of Scotland, these swans face the longest sea crossing of any other swan species as they fly 800 miles north over the Atlantic…

    • 2 Apr 2021