• If It Wasnae Fur Yer Wellies

    I’m back – not in Arnie style but I’m glad to say, I’m back at RSPB Mersehead for another two weeks of residential volunteering. It’s been three years since I was last here and while some things have changed (there’s a butterfly meadow), much remains the same.

    I’m half way through my second week and am on a rain break as pulling weeds out of a path is nobody’s idea of fun while it’s…

    • 19 Jul 2019
  • Make Hay While the Sun Shines

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 6th – 12th July 2019

    With high pressure and temperatures of 20oC forecast for the next couple of weeks, the hay mower has been retrieved from the depths of the machinery shed and the first 20-acre field cut. We still have a further 22-acres to cut over the weekend. The fields are always cut from inside to out to ensure any wildlife can move safely away from the tractor. Today’s job was…

    • 12 Jul 2019
  • Marvellous Moths and Meadows

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 29th June-5th July 2019

    This week we were out on the wetlands carrying out fences checks in preparation for the arrival of cattle to carry out some essential grazing. Cattle will graze on the grassy areas and open them up to allow establishment of new plants, creating a mosaic of vegetation much like in the picture below. Species found in our meadow include White Clover, Yellow Rattle, Common…

    • 5 Jul 2019
  • The Heat is on

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 22nd - 28th June 2019

    This week has been a warm week with daily temperatures reaching over 20°! We are feeling the heat on the reserve, however thankfully not 40° like Europe. The warm temperatures seem to have awaken the Painted Lady Butterflies, you can see them all over the reserve, particularly near the coast on the yellow flowering plant, Sea Radish. Painted lady butterflies are…

    • 28 Jun 2019
  • The Tiger and the Pottinger

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 15th – 21st June 2019

    The merse (saltmarsh) is currently brimming with colour and sound. Ragged Robin and Lesser Spearwort are in flower whilst overhead the Skylark’s distinctive song can be heard from every corner. We have been out inspecting and repairing the livestock fence along the merse and sand dunes this week in readiness for the cattle. With the warm weather there were plenty…

    • 21 Jun 2019
  • Buzz Around Town

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 8th-14th June 2019

    Sightings from our visitors this week include Whitethroat, Linnet, Sand Martin, House Martin and Swallow. A Sparrow Hawk appeared right outside the visitor centre window, perched near the hanging feeders. Needless to say, all the usual House Sparrows and Gold Finches disappeared from sight. A Reed Bunting was also spotted perched on a fence post along Rainbow lane (the path…

    • 14 Jun 2019
  • Baby Boom

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 1st – 7th June 2019

    With the recent bouts of heavy rain over the last week or so the Natterjack pools have started to fill up again.  Natterjack Toad have an extended breeding season precisely for this reason; if the shallow breeding pools dry out early in the spring due to a lack of rain (as happened to some on the reserve this year), they are able to take advantage of the freshly filled…

    • 7 Jun 2019
  • Pink Elephant

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 25th - 31st May 2019

    Reserve work this week has focused on preparing the two 1ha Wild bird cover plots. Both areas have been ploughed, cultivated and the Oats and Sunflower seeds drilled into the ground. Just as the small seed spreader was being attached to the tractor, the heavy rain forecast for later in the afternoon arrived early and unfortunately prevented the work being completed. Over…

    • 31 May 2019
  • Babies Galore

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 18th - 24th May 2019

    This week has seen the start of many babies emerging on Mersehead. Lapwing chicks are off to a strong start as egg predation has been relatively low. There have been around 23 chicks counted inside our anti-predator fence (built to keep ground predators such as badgers and foxes away from ground nests) and more elsewhere over the reserve. A Leveret (baby Hare) was flushed…

    • 24 May 2019
  • The New Arrivals Continue...

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 11th- 17th May 2019

    The latest new arrival to the reserve this week was a Spotted Flycatcher, a red-listed species of conservation concern due to the dramatic decline in their population (87% since 1970). The latest research is suggesting that first year mortality is high and that this may be driving the declines. This could be due to poor-quality breeding habitat and/or habitat loss either…

    • 17 May 2019
  • 3rd for Scotland

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 4th – 10th May 2019

    It has been a cold week with night-time temperatures dipping to 1oC making it a slow Natterjack Toad season. Natterjack toads require a constant night-time temperature of a least 9oC to spawn. So far this spring we have found 32 spawn strings. The spawn development has been slow as the water temperature has been cold which can make the spawn vulnerable to developing…

    • 10 May 2019
  • Spring has Sprung

    Mersehead recent sightings 27th April - 3rd May 

    This week we undertook our 2nd Natterjack toad survey of the year. With a relatively mild evening temperature, little wind and light drizzle, it seemed the perfect conditions for Natterjack activity. However, there was only 31 adults found across the site. This is a drop from the 81 adults found 2 weeks prior. The number of toad spawn found are increasing as the days progress…

    • 3 May 2019
  • Surveys Galore!

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 20th – 26th April

    This week, we undertook the first Water Rail survey of the season. These birds are incredibly illusive, and despite recording at least 12 individuals in the reedbed, they are rarely seen from the hides. The survey (like most) involves a very early start; two people head out into the reedbed and stand 20 metres apart. Then, we play the “squealing pig” call that the Water…

    • 26 Apr 2019
  • Having a Natter

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 13th – 19th April 2019

    With overnight temperatures dipping as low as -2oC during the last few weeks we have seen a delayed start to the Natterjack Toad season at Mersehead. Natterjacks are fussy amphibians requiring a constant air temperature of at least 7oC throughout the night. Wednesday evening was looking promising so we headed out for the first adult population survey of the year…

    • 19 Apr 2019
  • Sixth for D&G?

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 6th 12th April 2019

    Spring really sprung into action this week, as a host of summer visitors arrived. Saturday saw the first big arrival, as 8 White Wagtail and a female Wheatear were busy feeding in one of the recently ploughed fields. Out on the wetlands were another 2 White Wagtail and a single Black-tailed Godwit, and these were joined late-afternoon by an influx of hirundines;…

    • 12 Apr 2019
  • And Their Off!

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 30th March – 5th April 2019

    The Lapwing has a spectacular display flight where the male rolls, dives and somersaults through the air whilst calling to attract a potential mate and alert rival males to his presence. The lapwings at Mersehead have been displaying and setting up territories for a few weeks now and this week we have found the first nests! Each nest contains four light…

    • 5 Apr 2019
  • Heralds of Spring

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 23rd - 29th March 2019

    The short dark days of winter are all but a distant memory now. It is refreshing to think that daylight hours are now longer than the nights, and the thermometer regularly creeps up into the teens. The verges of our entrance road are adorned with gorgeous Lesser Celandines and Wood Anemones.  Often regarded as a symbol of the ‘joys to come’ the yellow hues of Lesser Celandines…

    • 29 Mar 2019
  • No winter lasts forever

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 16th- 22nd March 2019

    After the heavy rain last week water levels remain high across the reserve.  The ducks are obviously enjoying these conditions, with Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, and Pintail represented in good numbers.  Curlew have been enjoying the soft ground conditions too, allowing them to easily probe into the soil with their long, scythe-shaped bills.  Just past the…

    • 22 Mar 2019
  • A few days in the life of a residential volunteer at Mersehead

    It’s March at RSPB Mersehead. The snowdrops and daffodils are out in full force, Song Thrush practice before the mating season, and Lapwing start their aerial displays. In other words, spring is almost upon us! Just like the Barnacle Geese who will start heading back to the Svalbard in April, winter residential volunteers are preparing their outbound migration, before the summer residential volunteers arrive.


    • 20 Mar 2019
  • Too Cold for Natterjacks?

    Mersehead Recent Sightings 9th – 15th March 2019

    With 98mm of raining falling in March so far, the reserve is looking extremely wet. In some areas this is great! The Natterjack pools are full of water and with night-time temperatures warming up it may not be long until the first Natterjacks are out of hibernation. The vegetation in the wet grassland in front of the Visitor Centre has been cut with a machine operated…

    • 15 Mar 2019
  • Still feeling like May

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 2nd - 8th March 2019

    The May like weather we were experiencing last week with a bags of sunshine and temperatures nearly reaching 20 degrees carried on this week. More spring butterflies species have started to appear and we've even spotted our first swallow! Or at least this is what I wish I had to write... Instead I can confirm that everything is back to normal weather wise at Mershsead…

    • 8 Mar 2019
  • Let Nature Sing to an Orchestral Overture!

    Let Nature Sing to an Orchestral Overture!


    Join the Solway Sinfonia for an evening of music inspired by nature and bird song with proceeds going towards RSPB Scotland’s conservation work in Dumfries & Galloway.

    The Solway Sinfonia is a not for profit amateur orchestra based in Dumfries & Galloway.  Its members are drawn from the south of Scotland and north of England. The Solway Sinfonia likes (every spring…

    • 5 Mar 2019
  • Blossom and Butterflies

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 23rd February – 1st March 2019

    An unseasonably warm week here at Mersehead (and around the UK) made it feel more like mid-May than the end of February! The sunny days were full of the signs of spring, with snowdrops out in full force and daffodils and crocuses beginning to emerge, providing beautiful splashes of colour around the trails. The conditions made it much more pleasant working…

    • 1 Mar 2019
  • Supermoon

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 16th- 22nd February 2019

    As usual, the weather has been a big topic of conversation this week. Spending so much time working outside means that you always have your eyes on the weather forecast. For the most part the weekend was dry with sunny spells, although a viciously cold wind whipped in off the Solway. This wind has stayed with us for the week, bringing a distinct chill to the air…

    • 22 Feb 2019
  • Nurdle Hunting

    RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 9th – 15th February 2019

    After a mild week, we have woken up to a cold, crisp and bright day. The Barnacle Geese have been soaring low over the fields whilst deciding where to settle for the morning. Small dots high up, skeins of Pink-footed Geese have been migrating north, their distinctive “wink wink” call making you automatically look skyward. Early this morning, 2…

    • 15 Feb 2019