RSPB Mersehead Blog 18th-24th September 2021

We are waiting in anticipation for the almighty return of the Barnacle Geese. There have been some promising signs this week that we may not have to wait too much longer. Flocks of Pink-footed, Greylag and Canada Geese have been sighted across the reserve meaning the barnies should be following in close pursuit.

The fortnightly Kirkconnell reserve count recorded a considerable number of ducks with 360 Wigeon, 76 Teal, 43 Mallard, 12 Shelduck and 4 Goosander. The most abundant wader was Lapwing with 1025 being sighted mainly on the mud flats. Along with this 357 Redshank, 48 Curlew, 32 Black-tailed Godwit, 17 Cormorant, 8 Grey Heron, 3 Greenshank and 1 Knot were recorded. Gulls were also in the mix with 228 Lesser Black-back, 128 Black-headed, 28 Common, 17 Herring and 8 Great Black-backed bringing the total number of species to 18.

Knot at Kirkconnell. Photo credit: Paul Radford

The volunteer work party consisted of removing all sorts including an old barbed wire fence alongside rainbow lane, a temporary electric fence out in the wetlands and tackling taming holly and reeds in front of the Meida Hide.

Continuing with the theme of removal part of the team ventured to another RSPB reserve nearby, Ken Dee Marshes, to help assist with the clearance of vegetation around the lagoon. Pedestrian mowers were the perfect piece of equipment to complete this task as they cut within close proximity to the ground and are able to tackle dense vegetation with thicker stems. We cut the vegetation in a wildlife friendly manner to ensure anything situated amongst the Canary grass didn’t get trapped with nowhere to turn. Many Common toads and a few Common frogs were discovered and moved to the safety of the waters edge. Numerous dragonflies including Common Darter were present flying over the water’s surface in this tranquil spot. If you are planning a visit just be aware that the hides are currently closed however there are several viewing areas that look out across the lagoon.

RSPB Ken Dee Marshes reserve. Photo credit: Amy Blachford

One of the many Common Toads spotted. Photo credit: Amy Blachford

Common Darter soaking up some sun. Photo credit: Amy Blachford

With the butterfly season drawing to an end, it was time to clear our butterfly meadow to allow it to grow back in all its glory next year. There are however some pollinators still at work with Speckled Wood butterflies being spotted in the woodland and a Common Blue along rainbow lane. In addition, a Buff-tailed Bumblebee was seen bracing against the wind.

Butterfly meadow getting some TLC. Photo credit: Amy Blachford

Male Buff-tailed Bumblebee. Photo credit: Amy Blachford

Our moth survey this week recorded our first Angle Shades in the Sulwath gardens trap since 2018. They can be seen anytime from May to October due to them having two broods. Caterpillars feed on a variety of different plants including dock and stinging nettles. As pictured below their pink-brown markings provide great camouflage against leaf litter. Along with this, 8 other species were recorded including 5 Setaceous Hebrew Characters and 4 Lunar Underwing.


Angle Shades moth. Photo credit: Amy Blachford


Amy Blachford, Trainee Warden