• Mild Encouragement

    RSPB Mersehead Blog 8th – 14th January 2022

    The weather has been kind to us down at Mersehead this week; we have enjoyed some glorious winter sunshine and it has been noticeably mild for the time of year.  This favourable weather has encouraged a lot of activity around the reserve, and not just from the human inhabitants.

    The mild evenings conjure up fond memories of summer nights splashing through warm pools with…

    • 14 Jan 2022
  • A New Year, a New List

    RSPB Mersehead Blog 1st – 7th January 2022

    The end of 2021 saw a respectable 136 species on the Mersehead year list. The long-awaited final species was a Brambling, finally spotted in the Hawthorn bushes opposite the cottages. These vibrant finches head to the UK in the winter, escaping the Scandinavian ice and snow.

    Brambling. Photo credit: G.Chambers

    1. Carrion Crow
    2. Yellowhammer
    3. Dunnock
    4. Blue Tit
    5. Coal Tit
    6. Barnacle…
    • 7 Jan 2022
  • Fluffball Twite

    RSPB Mersehead Blog 11th - 17th December 2021

    On Monday, a flock of 18 very fluffy Twite were seen in the hedgerow running down to the Bruaich Hide. A similar bird to the Linnet, Twite can be distinguished by a slightly longer tail and a yellow bill in autumn and winter. A Todd’s/ Lesser Canada Goose was also seen on the weekend hiding amongst a flock of Barnacle Geese. 

    Fluffy Twite. Photo credit: Luke Jones

    Some amazing Starling m…

    • 17 Dec 2021
  • Winter Moth

    RSPB Mersehead blog 4th- 10th December 2021

    The Mersehead Reserve count saw 3066 Barnacle Geese, 1700 Dunlin, 314 Lapwing, 281 Teal, 118 Wigeon and 100 Knot being the most abundant species recorded. The coordinated Barnacle Goose count was also undertaken this week which saw 9,382 being recorded in the local area.

    Beach view whilst carrying out reserve count. Photo credit: Amy Blachford

    Other sightings this week include…

    • 10 Dec 2021
  • Otterly Frozen

    RSPB Mersehead blog 26th November – 3rd December 2021

    This week’s blog starts on a sombre note. A severe outbreak of avian influenza is occurring along the Solway Estuary with the internationally important population of Svalbard barnacle geese particularly affected. It is highly likely that you may see dead or sick barnacle geese whilst visiting Mersehead or other areas of the coast this winter. Please read the…

    • 3 Dec 2021
  • Bird Flu update

    Many of you will have seen recent reports of dead and dying wild birds in the Solway area and the confirmation of Bird Flu here. Sadly, the UK Government’s Animal and Plant Health Agency who is monitoring this disease has confirmed positive cases in dead birds found at our RSPB Scotland Mersehead nature reserve.

    The majority of the dead wild birds in the Solway area, including at Mersehead, are barnacle geese. These…

    • 3 Dec 2021
  • Carrots to Reeds, and Back Again

    RSPB Mersehead Blog: 20th – 26th November 2021

    The Sun has been the biggest star at Mersehead this week, thanks to its contribution to creating some awe-inspiring sunsets and sunrises.  Red and orange patterns have filled the sky, with a hue of yellowy-blue light melting into the horizon.  It is no coincidence that, for most of the week, the weather has been fine and bright, as the red sky can be associated with high…

    • 26 Nov 2021
  • Speedy Stoat

    RSPB Mersehead Blog  13th November – 19th November

    A Red Kite has been a regular visitor to the reserve with it being sighted on a few different occasions throughout this week. Our feeders situated in the woodland on the way to the Meida Hide are attracting an array of different birds including Great Tits, Blue Tits and Chaffinches. Nearby in the woodland Treecreepers and Long-tailed Tits have also been seen.


    • 18 Nov 2021
  • Magic Merlin

    RSPB Mersehead Blog 6th November - 12th November

    Highlights from the Mersehead WeBS survey included 1,070 Dunlin, 1,040 Teal, 785 Oystercatcher, 516 Lapwing, 307 Grey Plover and 181 Curlew. A Red-breasted Merganser was also seen swimming in the waves along the coast at high tide, and a Water rail was heard calling from the reedbed. Interestingly, during the walk back from the high tide roost we came across a beached pumpkin! If you take…

    • 12 Nov 2021
  • The Place to Be

    RSPB Mersehead Blog 30th October - 5th November

    One of the reasons Mersehead is such a fabulous haven for wildlife is the variety of habitats it offers, creating a diverse mosaic of flora and fauna.  However, following the 109mm of rain reported in last week’s blog, close to another 50mm fell over the weekend, leaving the reserve looking like one big wetland.  Nevertheless, there can still be plenty of diversity within…

    • 4 Nov 2021
  • And then they were gone

    RSPB Mersehead blog 23rd October – 29th October 2021

    On Saturday, we were over at RSPB Kirkconnell Merse completing the monthly reserve count of the waterbirds on the saltmarsh and along the River Nith. Barnacle geese were present in good numbers with 2850 recorded along with a flock of around 400 Pink-footed geese.

    Kirkconnell Merse with Criffel in the background

    Wigeon numbers were high with 274 counted. Other…

    • 29 Oct 2021
  • Winter migrants

    RSPB Mersehead blog 16th October - 22th October 2021

    The unsettled weather this week has enabled water levels to continue to rise with the most noticeable difference being the field outside of the visitor centre. This change has led to Barnacle Geese congregating which can be admired from the visitor centres viewing area.

    Barnies flying over the pond dipping area. Photo credit: Amy Blachford

    Also benefiting from the…

    • 21 Oct 2021
  • Barnies and Belties

    RSPB Mersehead blog 8th October – 15th October 2021

    Some of the first Barnies arriving at Mersehead on Monday morning. Photo credit: Luke Jones

    This week has finally seen the long-awaited arrival of thousands of our Svalbard Barnacle Geese. It’s lovely to have the Barnies back at Mersehead, and the sight and sound of thousands of geese flying overhead is amazing to witness, and well worth a trip to the reserve. The…

    • 15 Oct 2021
  • Get in Early to See the Support Acts

    RSPB Mersehead Blog 2nd - 7th October

    At the time of writing, we are still awaiting the long overdue, and eagerly anticipated mass return of the Svalbard Barnacle Geese to the Solway Firth.  Our appetite was whetted on Thursday, when 4 birds were spotted in one of the fields just past the woodland.  It is not possible to say if these are the early pace setters, or part of the local population of feral birds who are getting…

    • 7 Oct 2021
  • In the Land of the Midnight Sun

    RSPB Mersehead blog 24th September – 1st October 2021

    Geese have been spotted in flight over the reserve this week with the first skeins of Pink-footed Geese arriving from their breeding grounds. This population breeds primarily in central Iceland with smaller numbers also occurring along the east coast of Greenland. The geese winter almost exclusively in Britain with the wintering population having risen from an…

    • 29 Sep 2021
  • Several skeins but no Barnies yet

    RSPB Mersehead Blog 18th-24th September 2021

    We are waiting in anticipation for the almighty return of the Barnacle Geese. There have been some promising signs this week that we may not have to wait too much longer. Flocks of Pink-footed, Greylag and Canada Geese have been sighted across the reserve meaning the barnies should be following in close pursuit.

    The fortnightly Kirkconnell reserve count recorded a considerable…

    • 24 Sep 2021
  • 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 Trust for Ornithology's (BTO) Wetland Bird Survey database (WeBS) that is used to monitor the UK's internationally important non-breeding waterbird populations. As expected, the numbers recorded on…

    • 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