• 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
  • “In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours” – Mark Twain

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 20th – 26th March 2021

    After such warm temperatures, this week has felt noticeably cooler - not helped by the chill wind which has had clouds scudding across the skies, and which the Barnacle Geese have been battling against. 

    Complex skies over Mersehead. Photo credit: B.Taylor

    Barnacle Geese battling the wind. Photo credit: B.Taylor

    A Grey Heron was busy fishing on the wetlands…

    • 26 Mar 2021
  • Top of the Mersehead Pops

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 13th – 19th March 2021

    The following video provides a soundtrack to accompany this week’s blog, and includes a series of recordings made with very basic equipment (a smart phone) during the week.   Timings have been provided throughout the text to relate the narrative to the relevant section of the video for your reference. 

    So hit play and read on!


    • 19 Mar 2021
  • Wentletrap

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 6th – 12th March 2021

    The low tides at the start of the week saw us back at RSPB Kirkconnell Merse to complete some of the fence repairs. As reported a couple of weeks ago, the audit of the 4km long fence line after the winter storms found a few larger jobs which required some new posts to be carried out.

    Fence repairs. Photo credit: P.Radford

    Large numbers of Pink-footed Geese

    • 12 Mar 2021
  • Courtship and displays

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 27th February - 5th March 2021

    Perhaps optimistically, I feel spring is well on its way and with it comes the vast array of calls and displays as different species prepare for the breeding season. The splendour of the dawn chorus and the longer days have been welcomed across the reserve. In the Sulwath Garden, Rooks are gathering in the tops of trees. For the past few weeks, 10 rooks have been…

    • 5 Mar 2021
  • Conquering Creeks, Containing Cows and Caring for Curlew at Kirkconnell

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 20th - 26th February 2021

    With the tides and, as it happened, the weather on our side, the Mersehead team headed to Kirkconnell Merse to carry out the annual audit of over 4km of fencing that ensures the cattle who graze the saltmarsh ('merse' in Scotland) from April to October are safe and contained.

    Kirkconnell Merse is a 300 ha wild expanse of saltmarsh, which lies on the west…

    • 26 Feb 2021
  • Frozen Tidelines

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 13th - 19th February 2021 

    Last weekend was the monthly Wetland Bird Survey across the reserves. With a minimum temperature of -3oC recorded every 24 hours over the five days leading up to the survey, it was not surprising that the overall waterbird count was fairly low as the majority of the water was frozen. Even the sandflats were covered in snow and ice! As we headed along the beach…

    • 18 Feb 2021
  • One Hundred!

    The Mersehead year list reached 100 today with a fly over Great Northern Diver seen during a walk along the beach. Here is the list so far:


    Great Northern Diver


    Bar-tailed Godwit


    Grey Wagtail




    Lesser Redpoll


    Rock Pipit


    Lesser Black-backed Gull




    Whooper swan




    Long-tailed tit


    Pied Wagtail

    • 14 Feb 2021
  • The sun has returned!

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 6th-12th February 2021

    Saturday saw the welcome return of the sun! Even early in the day, with snow still on Redbank hill, blue sky spoke of the sun to come this week. And with the water draining from the fields, where ducks have been spoilt for choice for where to feed, the grassland has been filled with 100s of Barnacle Geese. A group of Canada geese were feeding on the grass nearby. After…

    • 12 Feb 2021
  • Recipe for a wild week at Mersehead: Take 30mph easterly gusts, mix in a dash of snow, and top with 108mm of rain.

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 30th January – 5th February 2021

    As I am sure it was for many of you, participating in the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch (BGBW) was one of the highlights of the weekend.  With the feeders primed, I sat by the kitchen window with binoculars in one hand and a cup of tea in the other, and watched in anticipation to see which species (and how many) would pay a visit in the hour I had allotted…

    • 5 Feb 2021
  • Ninety One & Counting

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 23rd – 29th January 2021

    Mersehead was waking up to a hard frost, thick ice and a light layer of snow over the weekend. Hundreds of wildfowl including Teal, Pintail and Shoveler were crowded together feeding on the limited open water. A flock of around 380 Lapwing were snoozing on the ice and it was a nice surprise to see a female Goosander snuggled into the base of some thick vegetation…

    • 29 Jan 2021
  • Water off a duck's back

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 16th – 22nd January 2021

    Although a varied week weather wise, and with its fair share of rain, the sun came out to greet us these past couple of days. The setting sun cast a rosy hue over the reserve on Thursday evening.

    Sunset looking South West. Photo Credit: B. Taylor

    The week started with the Wetland Birds Survey across the Mersehead reserve with an exciting total of 11,608…

    • 22 Jan 2021
  • You don't have to look too hard

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 9th – 15th January 2021

    There has been a noticeable change in the weather this week.  The bright, crisp, dry winter days that we have been spoilt with so far this month were replaced with wet, cloud covered skies.  Official sources inform me that Thursday was the wettest day, with 22mm of rain falling, and Tuesday was definitely the best day for capturing the brilliant big blue sky…

    • 15 Jan 2021