RSPB Mersehead Blog 15th – 21st January 2022

A flock of around 30 Linnet were seen down the merse on the weekend, posing for a photo on the new fence.  

Linnet on the merse. Photo credit: Luke Jones.

Topping work to improve the habitat for natterjack toads. Photo credit: Luke Jones.

This week we have had some lovely sunny days and clear skies on the reserve, perfect for some habitat management work. Our volunteers continued with Natterjack toad habitat management work this week, finishing the work of clearing gorse from a section of the seawall, and strimming further along the breeding pool. Rushes in the field where the breeding pool is located have been topped (mowed) this week to enable the natterjack toads to access the breeding pools from their hibernacula in the sand dunes. Flocks of barnacle geese have been seen taking advantage of this newly available source of grass that was hidden amongst the tall rushes.  

Barnies taking advantage of the newly topped field. Photo credit: Luke Jones

The Solway coordinated barnacle goose count was conducted on Wednesday, with the Mersehead team covering the areas either side of Mersehead between Port Ling and Loch Kindor below Criffel. The data from these surveys will help to monitor the impact of the current bird flu outbreak on the Svalbard barnacle goose population. 

There have been some amazing Starling murmurations over the reedbed at dusk over the last couple of weeks. A couple of times the barnies have been seen flying out to roost and almost chasing the starlings as they try to flee the yapping geese. You can watch a video of one of this week's murmurations below.