Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Mersehead RSPB Reserve

So, maybe a day later than planned but cycled along the road to the reserve entrance, into that SW wind that I've been on about for a while and straight into a wonderful welcome. A noticeboard stating welcome, two large RSPB 'feathers either side of the road and a comfortable coffee with Ben, Dave, Tom, Julia and Oliver.

Superb. A lovely visitor's centre and a poor crippled male pheasant outside the window. Plans made for the next day and then a walk to the hides with a gentleman I'd met earlier in the day. Roger Lever, a recently retired vet and cousin to Peter Lever of England cricket fame, went around the hides with me chatting about cricket and being a vet. Nice man.

The enjoyable evening carried on with watching the World Cup match, Holland versus Uruguay in one of the cottages available for self catering accommodation. Luxury again.

Here's the link if you want to rent one for the week. Ben said that to rent one in the winter would be about £240 a week. Not bad at all for a 4 bed cottage of such beautiful quality.

Wednesday 7th July 2010

An early morning exploration of the reserve but not many birds about and then met Ben and the volunteers to go in search of natterjack toads. We found one and Ben gave all a lesson in how to sex both common toads and natterjacks.

Back to the visitor's centre and then shown around the Sulwath Centre with Dave. Loved this place with it's eco credentials well in place. Areas of raised beds for wheelchair access, herb and butterfly gardens, outdoor habitat creation and various projects, then indoors to a superbly resources environmental centre. Conference room, classroom, reception area etc - brilliant.

More details can be found here :-

So visit over and photos taken with everyone by the centre, I left to face the wind [recurring theme isn't it but it's starting to get to me] and headed for Dalbeattie. Stopped a lorry just before reaching there to save a golden-ringed dragonfly from being squished. The lorry driver was genuinely interested in why I'd stopped him.

Reached Ken Dee Marshes RSPB reserve at 7.00pm, after having haggis and chips in Castle Douglas.

A lovely new hide here after a cycle through the woods along the loch, black-headed gulls making a fuss as red kites quartered overhead; one even swooping to pick up a dead gull chick in the margins. A pair of oystercatchers had a new chick and a pair of redshank had 3. An osprey glided over and a red squirrel came on the close by feeder, followed by willow tits and a young great-spotted woodpecker. A lovely evening wildlife watching and such a variety.

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