Mersehead Recent Sightings 2nd – 8th November 2019

Cold, dry and bright weather is forecast over the coming week, the perfect conditions to head down to Mersehead for some autumnal sunshine. The hedgerows are brimming with bright red berries providing a vital food source. The flocks of Fieldfare have been amazing with up to 70 birds recorded together. A soft “seep seep” call reveals the presence of the Redwing whilst the tiny Goldcrest is becoming easier to spot lurking in the depths, as the leaves begin to fall.

Holly. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Look out for flocks of seed-eating farmland birds in the Sunflower Meadow. Sunflowers provide an amazing seed source throughout the winter as each flower may contain as many as 1,500 seeds. Mixed flocks of Linnet, Goldfinch and Siskin can be seen erupting from the meadow. Look out for Reed bunting and Yellowhammer as you head towards the hide. We have been controlling the invasive non-native Japanese Rose (Rosa Rugosa) along the hedgerow to Bruiach Hide. Notice how the plant is hardly present in the first section of hedge and reappears nearer to the hide. This species was first introduced to UK gardens in 1796 and was first noted in the wild in 1927. The dense wide-reaching thickets and tough rhizomes makes this species tricky to eradicate. We will be continuing to manage this species over the winter.

Siskin. Photo credit: Ben Andrew

From Bruiach Hide alone this week, we have seen 76 Pintail along with 272 Teal, 55 Shoveler, 81 Wigeon and over 80 Lapwing. The leucistic Barnacle Goose is back at Mersehead with a total of 5 recorded on the Solway.

Leucistic Barnacle Goose. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

The woodland is gradually changing from multiple shades of green to many shades of russet, red, yellow, purple, black, orange and brown. Keep an eye out for flocks of Long-tailed tit and the secretive Treecreeper.

Autumn Colours. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Around the reserve you may spot a small white fungus nestled in the grass, Snowy Waxcap. These delicate ivory-white waxcaps are common across permanent pasture grazed short by sheep and occasionally in open woodland. Garden lawns and parks are a great place to find them too.

Snowy Waxcap. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Meida Hide is a great place to be as dusk settles over the reserve. We have estimated the Starling murmuration holds around 20,000 birds at present with some spectacular shapes outlined against the clear sky. The Kingfisher has been zooming over the water and even perched on the log so that its brilliant sapphire feathers could be fully admired. Water Rail will keep you company with its pig like squeals emanating from the reeds. Look out for birds of prey as both Hen Harrier and Peregrine have been spotted hunting the starlings.

Starlings. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Feeling the chill as the temperature hits zero? Drop into the Visitor Centre for a warming mug of hot chocolate. The bird table is a hive of activity as birds jostle for position. Tree Sparrow, Yellowhammer, Siskin and Redpoll can be seen amongst the numerous finches. Keep an eye out for Brambling. Check out our busy events program whilst in the Visitor Centre and secure your place on our upcoming Sunset on the Solway (next walk Sunday 10th November 3:30pm – 5pm) and Autumn Discovery (next walk Thursday 14th November 11am – 1pm) guided walks. You can book onto any of our events on 01387 780579; follow us on Facebook at RSPB Dumfries & Galloway.

Busy at the bird table. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Did you know that Mersehead is the only RSPB reserve with self-catering holiday cottages? Barnacle geese from the bedroom window . . tree sparrow on the bird table . . thousands of wintering wildfowl . . a cosy log burner . . . If this sounds like a great winter holiday, find out more about BARNACLE and SHELDUCK as we have limited availability between now and Christmas.

Rowena Flavelle, Mersehead Warden