8.30am saw us at the RSPB Mersehead Reserve at Southwick. The Visitor Centre (a converted traditional, whitewashed Galloway cottage) looked pretty as a postcard in the morning sun.
We decided to head East for a change as the sun was still so high. (Later in the day it's better to set off West) Despite the sun, last nights' frost spangled the grass and made artwork of the puddles as we strode out along the lane towards the Sulwath centre and the two hides. (It was a day made for striding - Brisk and invigorating).
Recent hedge trimming had revealed the remains of a last years Long Tailed Tit nest along the lane, there is a healthy population of them around here and I love it when around 12 - 15 all try to get on the same fatball. It always makes me laugh as it looks like some outlandish Xmas tree decoration.
We decided to visit Meida hide as you can usually spot Deer to the East of the wetland area in front of it so set off through the woodland. Unfortunately we didn't see the Treecreper who is usually about (maybe he was having a lie in?)
From the point when we left the car we had Barnacle Geese flying sporadically overhead. Their distinctive calls, described by some as like a dog barking, punctuating the whole 2 hour walk. Large numbers of the Svalbard population arrive at Mersehead in the Autumn and can be seen grazing the wet areas in densely packed flocks throughout the Winter months. I am always sad to see them go. There are 9,000 Barnacle Geese this year, a lower number than last year but still a fantastic spectacle. Not to be missed.
Our bird list this morning included Barnacle Geese, Curlews, Phesant, Pink Footed geese, Chaffinch, Green Finches, Yellow Hammer, Snipe, Mallard, Widgeon, Teal, Pintail, Coot, Gadwall, Mute Swans, Lapwing, Skylarks to name a few. It was a fantastic walk, one I will not forget. You can see the route here:
You can do the circuit in about an hour but today we lingered and savored the day. At the Visitor Centre you can get Fairtrade coffee and tea and Chocolate Muffins and Brownies to go with it or even a tub of delicious Cream O' Galloway ice cream. There are a couple of big squadgy sofas where you can sit in the sunshine and watch the birds on the feeders or borrow Binis' to look out over the Lapwing nesting area. The team of permanent and volunteer staff on the reserve are always on hand and are a great bunch of people. They do a fantastic job so a big thank you to them for all their hard work.