The Mersehead Warden lives on the reserve and is going to try and keep you updated on the wonderful wildlife they see at Mersehead at this challenging time during their daily walk and whilst completing essential work on the reserve in line with government guidance.

Mersehead Recent Sightings 16th – 22nd May 2020

With a force 8 “fresh gale” currently battering the reserve it is hardly the bright sunny day depicted in the photographs below. They were taken last weekend when I decided to wonder down the beach towards the Southwick Water to see what I could find.

Mersehead beach. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

The pioneering Sea Sandwort is often found growing on the harsh sea-ward side of sand dunes where the fleshy leaves and deep roots enable it to survive in this dry and salty habitat. Along with marram grass this plant traps sand particles and will help the dune system to recover and reform. The endemic Isle of Man Cabbage was starting to flower whilst clumps of Sea Campion nestled in the shingle.

Sea Sandwort. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Sea Campion Photo credit: R.Flavelle

After entering a semi-dormant state during all the dry weather, the Natterjack toads have woken up again! A faint chorus could be heard from my garden over the weekend and quick walk up Rainbow Lane and a scan around the pools found 66 toads. The next morning, I found 6 new spawn strings!

Natterjack toads. Photo credit: R.Flavelle (2017)

Natterjack spawn string. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

The wet grassland habitat surrounding the Natterjack lagoon is a sea of yellow with Lesser Spearwort, Meadow Buttercup, Creeping Buttercup, Celery-leaved Buttercup, Silverweed and Tormentil all in flower.

Celery-leaved buttercup. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

With overnight temperatures rising to double figures the moth catch has increased greatly with 19 species recorded. Some new species for the year include Brimstone, Dog’s Tooth, Peppered moth, Oblique Carpet, White Ermine and Flame Shoulder. A new species for me was a Shark which gains its name from the dorsal fin like feature on its head! A hand lens is required to look at the detail of the wing tip to identify the difference between the Shark and the similar Chamomile Shark.  

Shark. Photo Credit: R.Flavelle

Poplar Hawk-moth. Photo credit: R.Flavelle

I am extremely lucky to live at Mersehead and to still be able to walk across the reserve and complete essential work in line with government guidance.

While there has been a minor change in exercise restrictions, lockdown remains in place in Scotland. Our reserve facilities remain closed and we are continuing to ask people not to visit.

We look forward to welcoming visitors back to Mersehead again soon. In the meantime, stay safe and I hope you enjoy the weekly Mersehead updates.

Rowena Flavelle, Warden

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