Trip reports

RSPB Mersehead

RSPB Mersehead
Reed Bunting - Gergana Daskalova

Sunday, 13 March 2016

It was a beautiful Spring morning for the drive to Mersehead. We saw 22 species from the coach and although many of these were seen again on the Reserve, the dipper at Coulter, the goosander on the Clyde, and the great spotted woodpecker and kestrel approaching Dumfries were not repeated. We also saw deer and a lot of brown hares - so we weren't snoozing!

Arriving at RSPB Mersehead we were thrilled to see fields of feeding barnacle geese - a favourite goose for many. The Visitor Centre feeders gave close-ups of vibrant yellowhammers, dunnock, great-, coal- and blue tits, house and tree sparrows, chaffinch, goldfinch and pheasant, with lapwing displaying over the field - a real gift for the photographers. Woodpigeon, collared dove, blackbird, pied wagtail, carrion crow and jackdaw were around the buildings, and the yapping of the barnies supplied the backing track.

Moving out onto the Reserve, and realising that we were over-dressed for the weather (having in most cases adopted the default setting of multi-layered clothing for Scottish birding!) we observed the activity in the hedgerows. Robin, wren, reed bunting and long-tailed tit were seen, and photogenic bullfinches were feasting on the buds. Bruaich and Meida hides gave great views of large numbers of gadwall, shoveler, wigeon, teal, mallard, and the elegant pintails, with smaller numbers of goldeneye and tufted duck. Little grebe, grey heron, mute swan, Canada goose, moorhen, coot, a fly-past by two sparrowhawks and a fly-over by pinkfoots were noted. The trail to Meida hide was christened "goldcrest alley" as the trees were full of these busy birds, along with greenfinch, song thrush, redwing, treecreeper, and the rooks stealing nesting material from their neighbours.

On the coastal trail we heard nuthatch but couldn't locate it. Arriving at the shore birding gave way to a very pleasant beach picnic. Fed and watered, our attention returned to the huge numbers of shelduck, along with oystercatcher, cormorant, curlew, black-headed-, herring- and great black-backed gulls. Three red breasted merganser were seen, and after discussion it was agreed that there was a single male scaup in view. Singing skylark were abundant, confirming the arrival of Spring. In the area of rough grassland a pair of stonechat, common buzzard, meadow pipit and starling were seen.

During the day a mole had also been observed, and the Warden asked Rosie to send in her photo of an unusually vivid red and green common frog. One last bird was added to our sightings as we drove home - a lesser black-backed gull - giving us a total of 59 birds seen on the Reserve, plus one heard and another 5 en route. However, the abiding memory of our day was of the time when thousands of barnacle geese lifted into the sky together, calling, a real spine-tingling moment with nature.

Val Donaldson, Coach Outings Organiser

Bird list for RSPB Edinburgh Area Local Group coach outing to RSPB Mersehead on
Sunday 13 March 2016

At Mersehead
Little grebe
Cormorant
Grey heron
Mute swan
Pink-footed goose
Canada goose
Barnacle goose
Shelduck
Mallard
Gadwall
Pintail
Shoveler
Wigeon
Teal
Scaup
Tufted duck
Goldeneye
Red breasted merganser
Common buzzard
Sparrowhawk
Pheasant
Moorhen
Coot
Oystercatcher
Lapwing
Curlew
Black-headed gull
Herring gull
Great black-backed gull
Woodpigeon
Collared dove
Skylark
Meadow pipit
Pied wagtail
Wren
Dunnock
Robin
Stonechat
Song thrush
Redwing
Blackbird
Goldcrest
Great tit
Coal tit
Blue tit
Long-tailed tit
Nuthatch (heard)
Treecreeper
Jackdaw
Rook
Carrion crow
Starling
House sparrow
Tree sparrow
Chaffinch
Goldfinch
Greenfinch
Bullfinch
Reed bunting
Yellowhammer

En route
Goosander
Dipper
Great spotted woodpecker
Kestrel
Lesser black-backed gull

Other sightings
Deer
Brown hare
Mole
Frog
Toad