RSPB Mersehead Recent Sightings 19th – 25th June 2021

The most exciting sighting of the week has to be the Belted Galloway herd which arrived at Mersehead on Tuesday. We aim to trial holistic regenerative grazing at Mersehead this summer both with the Galloway and the Aberdeen Angus herd. This technique involves grazing for a short duration at a high density followed by a longer than usual grass recovery phase. This means that we will be dividing some of the large dry grassland fields into smaller units using electrical strip fencing. Research has shown that mob grazing leads to better soil health through increasing the level of organic matter resulting in stronger grass roots and a healthy more diverse pasture for both wildlife and the cattle.

Belted Galloway at Mersehead. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Wednesday found us up at 4:30am to complete the 4th breeding wader survey at RSPB Kirkconnell Merse. Although a slighter duller and overcast morning it was great to be out on the merse so early. The main focus of this survey is to monitor Curlew across the site as these birds will still be on territory – we recorded 7 active territories. The tiny Sea Milkwort added a purple haze. This very low growing plant is found growing amongst short vegetation on saltmarshes across Scotland, England and Wales. It is so tiny and delicate that you really need to get right down to eye level to appreciate its beauty and structure.

Sea Milkwort. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Lapwing surveys are starting to draw to a close as many young birds have fledged and joined the post breeding flocks of adult birds. There is still a late brood of 4 small lapwing chicks in the field to the left of Rainbow Lane. They are being kept company by 11 very large Shelduck ducklings!

Shelduck. Photo credit: P.Radford

Fledged Lapwing. Photo credit: P.Radford

Young Oystercatcher. Photo credit: P.Radford

Three new species of butterfly have been recorded on the wing with Common Blue, Ringlet and Large Skipper spotted. With the warm weather at the start of the week there were plenty of butterflies around with Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Small Copper and Speckled Wood also recorded.

Large Skipper. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

The warm evenings have seen some great records on the moth surveys. A total of 87 moths from 39 species were recorded this week. This included what appears to be only a third record for Dumfries & Galloway – a Sloe Pug.

Sloe Pug. Photo credit: G.Chambers

Map-winged Swift. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Ghost Moth: Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Rowena Flavelle, Warden