Skeins of pink-footed geese have been sighted every morning this week heading north, with the largest skein of 600 seen this morning. Out on the wetlands there are good numbers of teal, wigeon, shoveler, mallard and pintail along with a smaller number of gadwall, tufted duck, shelduck, 3 mute swans and a group of canada geese. Water rail is still regularly being heard calling from Meida hide at dusk. There are plenty of starlings around the reserve although the murmuration over the reedbed has been affected by the wild, wet and windy weather. Barnacle goose have been low this week with only 1250 recorded on the weekly count on Tuesday; we think this is due to the presence of fencing contractors onsite causing noise disturbance when knocking posts in.
Down Rainbow Lane a mixed flock of twite and goldfinch were showing well on Sunday as they perched along the wire fence. The beach, although difficult to walk along this week due to the wind, has provided a number of waders including ringed plover, oystercatcher, curlew and golden plover. Stonechat has been regularly sighted by the beach access at the end of the woodland.
Around the visitor centre and along the hedgerows there has been reed bunting, blackbird, robin, dunnock, great tit, blue tit, chaffinch, goldfinch, coal tit, house sparrow and goldcrest. If you sit down with a cup of tea in the visitor centre, you should be guaranteed to see tree sparrow.
Tree sparrow by the feeders at the visitor centre (Photo credit: Andy Hay)
Keep an eye out for the male hen harrier which was last spotted over the oat field on Wednesday morning. Whilst out working on the predator fencing yesterday a wisp of 17 snipe came from the wetlands directly in front of the visitor centre and the barn owl started hunting along the merse and gorse on Rainbow Lane at 2:30pm and was seen continually until dusk. The winter passerine survey on Tuesday afternoon recorded 115 birds across the arable habitat with skylark being the most numerous with a total of 54 recorded.
Snipe seen from visitor centre (Photo credit: Chris Gomersall )
Although the week has generally been very windy and overcast, Wednesday provided some glorious views and a stunning sunset on the beach.
Sunset at Mersehead (Photo credit: Eric Neilson)
Myself (Jenny), Tim and Paul are the new residential volunteers here at Mersehead! Like the barnacle geese we will be overwintering here and will be updating you each week on all the interesting things happening on the reserve.
The reserve has changed since I (Paul) started residential volunteering here at RSPB Mersehead.
Eric kept telling us we’d pay for the lovely warm, dry weather. And of course he was right...
The weather has turned a tide here at Mersehead, with the subject of any land management sometimes being washed away. However, wildfowl and waders have continued to flood in to the reserves wetlands, joined closely by sluice stressing amounts of rainfall. So much in fact, that the woodland and path to Meida hide is really quite flooded, so please bring wellies just in case! (All puns intended).
One handy by-product of so much rain is the increase in standing water in some of the more moist fields, giving the fine selection of the reserves feathery residents a little more paddling space. Weather can be a big deciding factor in the running of a nature reserve, and mine and Tim’s project of recording over 1000 Barnacle Goose rings has suffered a lot. With so many flooded fields we’re limited as to where we can get the reserve vehicles, and which jobs we can safely do. Luckily it doesn’t stop us surveying the reserves birds, of which we’ve had some great numbers. At last count we had nearly 8000 Barnacle Geese on the reserve, a flock of 253 Golden Plover hanging out with 53 Dunlin on the beach, and nearly 100 Pintail. As well as those lovely birds we have also had good numbers at Kirkconnell Merse, including Red Breasted Mergansers and 113 Redshank.
A big thank you to all of you from Turcan Connell that joined us over weekend for some conservation work. As a team we tackled unwanted scrub with loppers and bow saws to improve the habitat for natterjack toads
Strange beach find of the week
Lots of unusual objects come to rest on the beach at Mersehead!
Here is this weeks top find, can you help us identify it?
Here are the recent sightings from Mersehead
Bruaich Hide- mute swan, snipe, shoveler, curlew, wigeon, little grebe, redshank, tufted duck, fieldfare, barnacle goose, greylag geese, pink footed geese, teal, pintail, gadwall
Meida Hide- wigeon, teal, pintail, mallard, shoveler, hen harrier, grey heron, whooper swan, starling
Visitor Centre- barnacle geese, chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch, house sparrow, tree sparrow, wren, magpie, song thrush, yellowhammer
Trails- fieldfare, stonechat, pied wagtail, stock dove, mistle thrush, twite, barn owl, wren, rook, meadow pipit, wheatear, linnet, lapwing, redwing, jay, brambling
Beach- lesser black backed gull, black headed gull, curlew, oystercatcher, golden plover, dunlin,
Woodland- wren, rook, goldcrest, treecreeper, bullfinch, blackbird
Other animals- roe deer, badger, bank vole, field vole, weasel