RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 13th-19th October

A Busy week counting birds comes to an end at Mersehead as we had our 3rd coordinated Barnacle Goose survey as well as the 2nd Wetland bird survey and our first Winter Passerine Survey of the season!

We could not have asked for a better autumn day on Monday to record the number of Barnies, ducks and waders here on the reserve. A further 1200 barnacle geese have arrived since last week bringing up the count to 8400, including a leucistic goose. As more and more Barnies settle along the Solway for the winter, we have seen (and heard!) thousands of pink-footed geese heading South West throughout the week. The Wildfowl and Wetland Trust found out with GPS tagging that ‘pinkies’, as they are fondly known, first arrive to Scotland in the Autumn from Iceland, and later make their way further South to winter in Lancashire and Norfolk.

Pink-footed geese- Photo credit: Andy Hay

Ducks have also been putting on a show for us ahead of our “What’s That Duck?” event where visitors will be able to learn more about ducks and geese via self-lead bird hunts as well as taking advantage of binoculars and telescope available in one of our hides. During Monday’s Wetland Bird Survey we recorded a good variety of ducks which included 358 teal, 99 pintail, 76 shoveler, 33 wigeon, 13 mallard and even 5 tufted duck, 2 little grebe, and 1 Gadwall! We are holding another drop-in session of the “What’s That Duck” event on Monday the 22nd of October so do come along if you want to brush up your bird identification skills with one of our staff members!

Waders were also out and about as we caught sight of 33 curlew, around 1000 oystercatchers and an impressive 392 lapwing, mostly grouped in one field foraging away.

Tufted duck- Photo credit: Ben Hall

The winter passerine survey that took place on Wednesday showed that our wild bird cover strip along the woodland trail is attracting loads of visitors. 150 linnet were observed feeding on mustard, linseed, white millet and forage rape. Meanwhile, 90 chaffinch and 60 greenfinch were able to make the most out of the bigger sunflower seeds!

Other interesting sightings this week included siskin flying overhead in a field near rainbow lane, a brambling in the wild bird cover, a chiffchaff in the hedgerow along the track from the visitor centre, a gang of 7 long-tailed tit in the hedgerow at the start of the bruaich hide path, a willow tit, 4 raven flying over the visitor centre, a kestrel above the farm building and 2 marsh harrier roaming above rainbow lane.

Brambling- Photo credit: Ben Andrew

Finally, here is a great shot with Jamie, one of our regular Tuesday volunteers as we removed the cut vegetation from our butterfly meadow. This is an important process to ensure that we get plenty of flowers next spring. The risk with leaving the vegetation to rot back in the ground is that it would release nutrients into the soil, which wild grass strive on, leading them to overtake flowers! So cheers for the help Jamie!

Tuesday volunteers at work- Photo Credit Lana Blakely

Mathieu Burtschell- volunteer trainee warden