RSPB nature reserve to expand after raising £285,000 in one month
A nature reserve which is home to an extremely rare toad and other wildlife is to expand following a successful fundraising drive.
RSPB Scotland Mersehead will expand by 112 hectares, the equivalent of 80 football pitches, after £285,000 was raised in just one month in an appeal launched by the charity in October.
The reserve, located on the Solway Firth close to Dumfries, is a sanctuary for around 10,000 barnacle geese that make the epic 1,000-mile migration from the Arctic island of Svalbard every year.
It is also home to the only Scottish population of the natterjack toad, while in the summer the songs of yellowhammers, linnets and lapwings fill the air.
The autumn brings pintails, teals and widgeons to the reserve, and waders such as oystercatchers, golden plovers and increasingly rare curlews join the geese during the colder months of the year.
Mersehead was previously two different parts of land separated by arable farmland, however they will now be joined together after the charity bought the land.
David Beaumont, RSPB Scotland reserves manager in south and west Scotland, said: "A huge thank-you to everyone who donated money to this urgent appeal. It really was a race against time when we launched our campaign to secure this site for nature.
"Thanks to the overwhelming public response, Mersehead has now been made whole, which is wonderful news for the special wildlife of the Solway Firth.