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 Whooper Swan dropped into the field directly behind the car park. This number has now increased to 7 out on the wetlands from Bruiach Hide along with a female Goldeneye. The hedgerows are starting to burst to life with 3 Song Thrush, 2 Dunnock and a Blackbird singing along the short stretch between the cottages and the office. The first singing Skylark of the year have been heard this morning too.

Whooper swan. Photo Credit: Ben Andrew (rspb-images.com)

The water level in front of the Visitor Centre has been dropped over the last couple of weeks. This will allow us to use the tractor to cut areas of vegetation shorter creating a mosaic pattern attractive to breeding Lapwing, Curlew and Redshank. Lowing the water level has also exposed a new source of food for wildfowl in the form of previously inaccessible seed. Wigeon, Pintail, Teal and Shoveler have been feeding in front of the Visitor Centre all week providing great close-up views. The Little Egret has been feeding here too. The Visitor Centre is a great place to relax with a hot drink on a cold day. Keep an eye on the feeders as our lone Willow Tit has been spotted again this week along with Tree Sparrow and Yellowhammer.

Wigeon. Photo Credit: Andy Hay (rspb-images.com)

The Ringtail Hen Harrier has been reported hunting along the sand dunes whilst the flock of Twite are still present on the merse. At dusk, keep a look out for the resident Barn Owl. Everywhere you look at Mersehead you can expect to see Roe Deer. Forest clearance and over-hunting led to their extinction in England by 1800 but they remained in wooded patches in Scotland. Several reintroductions and their subsequent natural spread has meant that roe deer are abundant today and are now common throughout Scotland, the majority of England and are starting to spread into Wales. Mersehead is probably the best place in Dumfries and Galloway to see this species.

Barn Owl. Photo Credit: John Bridges (rspb-images.com)

We have lots of Events running during half-term next week cumulating in a Beach Clean on Saturday 23rd February. Meet us at the Visitor Centre for 10am where we will embark on a Nurdle hunt. Nurdles are small plastic pellets around the size of a lentil. Billions are used every year to make our plastic products. They can be easily spilled and lost into the environment.

Nurdles. RSPB (rspb-images.com)

Unlike large pieces of marine pollution, nurdles are so small they go unnoticed on beach cleans. They absorb pollutants and like other marine plastic they are mistaken for food by marine life and seabirds and so highly concentrated toxins enter the food chain. They don’t go away either – like all plastic over time they just fragment into small and smaller pieces becoming microscopic.

Rowena Flavelle, Warden

 

Bird Ringing Demonstration

Sunday 17 February

10am - 1pm

Price: FREE though donations welcomed. Car parking charges apply for non-members.

Goose Roostwatch

Wednesday 20 February

5pm - 7pm

Price: Adults £5 (RSPB members £4), Children half price. Car parking charges apply for non-members.

Discovery Walk

Thursday 21 February

11am - 1pm

Price: Adults £5 (RSPB members £4), Children half price. Car parking charges apply for non-members.

Badger Banquet

Friday 22 February

7pm - 8:30pm

Price: Adults £15 (RSPB members £10), Children half price. (Normal car parking charges do not apply)

Beach Clean

Saturday 23 February

10am – 2pm

Price: FREE though donations welcomed. (Normal car parking charges do not apply)

For further information visit our website: RSPB Mersehead Events

Check out this amazing camera trap footage taken by Jack Barton. Book onto a Badger Banquet and experience the Mersehead badgers yourself.

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