This week has been a long one over here at Mersehead and I mean that in the best possible way. On Tuesday we had the longest day of the year, so this week we have had a few extra hours of daylight at the end each day giving me the chance to enjoy the reserve after work.

 Aside from enjoying the longer evenings we have been doing plenty of work on the reserve this week. A chunk of the week has been taken up by strimming around the predator fence. This is an extremely important job as if there is vegetation touch the electric fence it risks shorting out, this is also a very long job as there is 3.1 km of predator fencing to strim. However I do find it rather fun, provided the horseflies don’t eat me alive.

This week we have also seen our first Natterjack Toadlets of the year. Earlier this week there were 63 Toadlets spotted around the lagoon and we hope this is a sign of a successful breeding season for the Natterjack Toads. Spotting these tiny guys is incredibly difficult, the toadlets are so small that I found out it’s easy to mistake Spiders or Flies for them. However once you’ve got your eye in, it’s amazing to see just how many of them there are. We have also found a lot of Common Toadlets on the reserve, however they are easily distinguishable from the Natterjacks as they don’t have a yellow stripe down their back.


A tiny Natterjack Toadlet found around the lagoon: Photo Credit: S. Boothman


In its natural habitat: Photo Credit: S. Boothman


In recent weeks one of my favourite jobs has become checking on Merseheads cattle herds. Everyday someone has to go and check on them to make sure that they are all there and are all healthy. It’s really nice to see the calves come running over to the truck whenever I go into the field to count them.


Aberdeen Angus surrounding the truck while I count them: Photo Credit: S. Boothman


My favourite cattle species we have on the reserve are the Belted Galloways. They are so charismatic and it is brilliant seeing a local breed on the reserve.


One of Merseheads young Belties: Photo Credit: S. Boothman


The Beltie bull with his brilliant perm: Photo Credit: S. Boothman



As I mentioned earlier, this Tuesday was the longest day of the year. With the weather being so nice I decided to make the most of the longer evenings by heading out with my camera as the sun starts setting to see what I can find. Its amazing just how peaceful the reserve is after all work has finished and most of the visitors have left.


A Black Bird enjoying the empty footpath: Photo Credit: S. Boothman


Male Pheasant: Photo Credit: S. Boothman


Regular visitors to the reserve might be familiar with a small flock of young Starlings swarming the feeders by the visitors centre. Well every evening this small group seems to grow in size and can be seen flying around the farm buildings, its like a mini murmuration.


Flock of young Starlings: Photo Credit: S. Boothman


When the light fading and the reserve is quieter another species that seemingly becomes braver are the Roe Deer. These aren’t an uncommon sight at Mersehead, however they’re usually running away making it hard to photograph them. Exploring the reserve later on I realised the deer didn’t seem to spook as easily, giving me the chance to snap some half decent photographs.


A Roe Deer buck with Cumbria in the background: Photo Credit: S. Boothman


Female Roe Deer near the Sulwath Centre: Photo Credit: S. Boothman


Deer on the track: Photo Credit: S. Boothman


The highlight of any evening at Mersehead though is seeing our Barn Owls. They can regularly be seen around the reserve hunting as they are still feeding chicks.


Sam Boothman, Residential Volunteer


Upcoming events:

How to begin Birdwatching

Friday 22nd July


*Holiday Cottages - Planning your 2022 holidays? Discover the breath-taking scenery, wildlife, cultural and history of Dumfries & Galloway whilst staying in one of the Mersehead cosy semi-detached holiday cottages – Barnacle and Shelduck – located in the heart of reserve.

*Flooding - Please note that Mersehead nature reserve is prone to flooding during periods of high rainfall and/or strong winds and tidal surges. To avoid disappointment at these times, please contact the reserve in advance of your visit by email in the first instance at or check the RSPB Dumfries and Galloway Facebook Page for daily updates.