RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 27th June – 3rd July 2020

We are hoping to open Mersehead in line with Scottish government guidance during the next two weeks, this will include the car park and trails. The hides, playground and Visitor Centre will remain closed. However, following a cluster of Coronavirus cases in the Annan and Gretna areas of Dumfries and Galloway, restrictions to the distance people can travel for leisure purposes are to remain in place (5-miles) rather than being lifted today. As Mersehead falls within one of the effected areas (DG2) we are delaying the announcement of the opening date we hoped to provide today until the review is broadcast on Monday.

Old Fishing stakes on the Mersehead beach. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Although its cold and wet today, the week in general has been warm and sunny. The warm water has seen the Natterjack tadpoles develop and emerge from the water with more toadlets recorded at the start of the week. Around 60 tadpoles were still in the water with all of them at the 4-leg stage. The toadlets will disperse into the surrounding area, not returning to the breeding pools until they reach maturity in 3-years’ time.

Natterjack Tadpole. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Now that the breeding season is ending, the adult toads will be feeding on insects throughout the night preparing for hibernation when night-time temperatures start to drop around October. Although a nocturnal species, the occasional toad may sometimes be found during the day.

Adult Male. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

A couple of interesting moths have been recorded this week. A mimic species, a Lunar Hornet Moth was seen on Rainbow Lane. A very large and fearsome looking moth, its mimicry works extremely well as when first spotted the words “be careful, it might sting you” were exclaimed! There are very few records for D&G with the last appearing to be in 2004, this species is probably under recorded.

Lunar Hornet Moth. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

A single Broom-tip has appeared in the moth trap over the last two weeks. This is a nationally scarce UK BAP Priority species. Although widespread, in that this species may be found in across the UK, it is only present in small local populations. 

 Broom-tip. Photo credit. R.Flavelle

Draining the wetland habitats throughout July and August is an important management technique for the returning wintering wildfowl and helps to maintain attractive breeding areas for next year’s waders. Grazing with cattle creates a mosaic sward structure and the exposed soft rush, a rampant species in wet ground conditions, can be controlled. Many soil invertebrates do not flourish in constant anaerobic conditions so by draining the water we should help to ensure a stable invertebrate population. It was great to sit and watch at least 100 Blue-tailed Damselflies over the wet grassland this week.

Blue-tailed Damselfly. Photo credit: G.Chambers

We look forward to welcoming you back soon, in the meantime, stay safe and I hope you enjoy the weekly Mersehead updates.

Rowena Flavelle, Warden