Bemersyde Moss Reserve
If you enjoy bird watching or you are keen to see a wide array of beautiful flowers, then visit Bemersyde Moss, a small twenty-five hectare reserve that is made up of grass and woodland. Bermersyde Moss Reserve is owned and taken care of by the Scottish Wildlife Trust, and is situated about four miles east of the town of Melrose. There is only enough parking for two cars, otherwise you can use the verge for parking. Other towns that the reserve is near to are St. Boswells and Smailholm. From there you will find a trail that leads you to a bird hide that is accessible at all times and has relevant information on the different bird species that occupy the area. The rest of the reserve, however, has restricted access so please keep that in mind. What is also great about this reserve is that it is now wheelchair friendly giving access to the hide and to the boardwalk.
The environment of the reserve is made up of a narrow strip of marshy grounds where you can find all sorts of wintering wildfowl, like mute swans, moorhen pinkfoot, wigeon and greylag geese, if you visit during the months of October to March. You will also find a shallow loch located on the grounds, which is normally full of breeding black-headed gulls, about 15,000 pairs during May to September. The loch is thought to be shallow because of the thin depression that it lies in known as a “kettlehole”.
Bemersyde Moss Reserve had a different look to it a century ago, as the now shallow loch surrounded by vegetation like reeds, willow scrub and marshy vegetation, was then a large deep loch called Mertoun. Then you could come and fish for eels, but its main use was to facilitate the water mills located nearby. Later, in the 1970s Mertoun Loch was put out of action when it was drained. Later on pockets of water collected and today it is kept at a decent level by the reserve management who artificially fill it up to keep it at a level that will protect the nesting gulls from rats and foxes as well as providing a decent amount of water for the wildfowl.