Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Frampton Marsh

Frampton Marsh 360 hide
Spent the day with other members of the Brandon Marsh Conservation Team and our guests visiting RSPB Frampton Marsh, Lincolnshire.

The reserve is part of the most mature saltmarsh in the Wash and is exceptionally rich in plants, birds and invertebrates. The upper levels, which have extensive zones of sea-lavender, sea aster and sea-purslane, are intersected by large creeks, one of which was the old course of the River Witham before the new cut was made in 1880.

The area supports a breeding black-headed gull colony, while common tern, redshank, oystercatcher, reed bunting, meadow pipit and skylark are all regular breeders. In winter the saltings attract wigeon, mallard, shelduck, teal and brent geese, with large flocks of finches and buntings, notably linnet and twite. The tidal mudflats form part of the wader feeding grounds, which give the Wash its international status. Large flocks of dunlin occur, as well as considerable numbers of grey plover, whimbrel, curlew, bar-tailed godwit and greenshank.

Little Stint
We arrived at the visitor centre around around 9.15am and were welcomed by one of the reserve volunteers who gave us an excellent introductory talk before we moved out onto the reserve. A very blustery day but it remained dry and quite warm for nearly the whole visit.

The reserve boasts 3 hides, two of which have 360-degree views and there are over 3km of new footpaths to explore. We started by taking the footpath directly to the sea wall in the hope of catching some wader activity at high tide. Unfortunately after arriving we realised that it would have to be an exceptionally high tide, if not a tsumami, to reach the reserve as the sea remained about 3km out!

Curlew Sandpiper
Notwithstanding the walk down to the wall produced of interest 2 Common Tern, Greenshank, Little Egret, Meadow Pipit, Curlew and good numbers of Dunlin and Golden Plover. As we continued along the wall A Common Buzzard was seen along with Kestrel and Marsh Harrier.

On the surrounding creeks various Wildfowl were present with Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Shelduck, Little and Great Crested Grebe, Wigeon, Pintail and Egyptian Geese. With the constant wind the best viewing of the day was from the hides with a good selction of waders. These included Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher, Redshank and more Greenshank.

Little Stint numbered at least 4 along with several Curlew Sandpiper and these undoubtedly where the birds of the day! Personally I missed out on the only Ruff seen but after arriving back at the nature centre did manage two final waders with two Green Sandpiper feeding close by.

Also worth a mention along with the sporadic Sand Martin, House Martin and Swallow was a single Swift which seemed to keep us company for around 20 minutes before heading off on his journey south.

A stop at Eyebrook Reservoir in heavy showers on the return to Brandon gave us a few additions to the day with Hobby, Red-legged Partridge, Shoveler and Pochard. An excellent days birding and some really awful jokes was enjoyed by all, but you know what they say? The old ones are always the best!