Thursday, 10 October 2019

Immersed On The Merse

Earlier this week I had some tree assessments to do in Red Kite country in Dumfries and Galloway, and if you were to draw an imaginary line from Dalbeattie, to Castle Douglas to Balmaclellan at the top of Loch Ken, all of my tree assessments weren't far from this line. And this is well and truly Kite country! In fact driving between my site visits I probably had in the region of 15-20 sightings of Red Kite.

Gail and I had a lovely overnight stay at our regular B & B, Douglas House, that we stay at in Castle Douglas, and the following morning we headed off to Mersehead RSPB for a mornings birding immersed on the merse! As we set off to explore one of our favourite reserves, we had 7 oktas cloud cover with a brisk southwesterly wind.

We headed along the path to the shore on the Solway first of all, and the path takes you between the merse and some extensive grazed pastures frequented by Barnacle Geese, for which the reserve is very important for. If it had been a less windy morning there would quite possibly have been a few migrants in the Gorse hedgerow between the merse and the pasture, but this morning we had to make do with thirteen Long-tailed Tits and a couple of Goldcrests.

Below are a few shots of what is my favourite goose, the Barnace Goose!

In the extensively grazed wet pasture were 609 Barnacle Geese, 140 Lapwings and 400 Teal on the floods. I read later in the day that at the moment there are 700 Barnacle Geese at Mersehead. The path then headed across the merse to the shore, and it was quiet here except for 15 Skylarks, 16 Meadow Pipits and a Reed Bunting. Fly-overs as we walked along were a single Swallow, a Buzzard and a pair of Goosanders.

It was quiet along the shore, but the views along the white shell beach and the Solway were gorgeous and there wasn't another soul other than Gail and I. We reached the woodland that runs from the middle of the reserve to the coast, that always looks good for migrants, but it always seems to be windy when we're here and all we could muster were two more Goldcrests and a couple of Chiffchaffs.

 The Solway shore

We headed to the first hide overlooking the main pool and counted an additional 200 Teal, plus 55 Wigeons and six Pintail. Below are some pictures of the views overlooking the pool from this hide.

We then headed back to the visitor centre, with three Red Admirals along the way, to have a look at the feeding station outside the main viewing window. It was alive with Chaffinches (20) and Tree Sparrows (15), with lesser numbers of Greenfinches (8-10) and House Sparrows (5).

So, nothing amazing, but it was nice to be out on a great reserve in a lovely part of the world.