Monday, April 29, 2013

RSPB Frampton Marsh

Once again I managed to secure the Trust's minibus and so for another 'away-day' I took twelve of the Brandon volunteers to RSPB Frampton Marsh, one of my favorite reserves and located on the Lincolnshire side of the Wash Estuary.

Ruff - In Almost Summer Plumage
We arrived shortly after nine o'clock to a bright but very blustery day and began our tour heading east towards the sea bank. What was immediately apparent was the huge numbers of Black-headed Gulls on site, probably well over a few thousand of these noisy characters. Several Skylarks were in song along with good numbers of Brent Geese feeding on the wet grassland.

Little-ringed Plover
Almost our first wader of the day was a reported Curlew Sandpiper and It wasn't long before a few more waders were recorded. These included Little-ringed Plover, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Ruff looking quite stunning in their almost summer plumage, a single Snipe and several Black-tailed Godwits, looking equally as stunning in summer colours. I don't think I can recall seeing as many Avocets as there were on the pools today, obviously a great success for the reserve. By the time we reached the sea bank (2) Yellow Wagtail were also listed along with Sedge Warbler and good numbers of Swifts, Swallows and House Martin.

We took a very turbulent walk along the sea-bank, sliding down the bank occasionally to escape the constant strong breeze, then hunkering down and scanning across the salt marsh. Here we had Meadow Pipit, Linnet, Little Egret, Redshank, Dunlin, Great Black-backed Gull and a single Whimbrel. Out towards the wash huge flocks of Waders, too distant for ID but likely Knot, where constantly on the move. More Yellow Wagtails, Ringed Plover, Teal and a single White Wagtail before stopping for lunch in the East Hide.
White Wagtail
East Hide for lunch was our first chance to take shelter and have a good look at the pools and almost immediately a ♂Garganey was spotted, offering some excellent views before flying off west. Quite a surprise was the amount of Wigeon still around and as you would imagine Shelduck were in good numbers. The first of only two Sand Martin for the day was also seen along with more Yellow Wagtail.

Our next stop was Reed Bed Hide and here among the many Black-backed Gulls were two very pristine looking Mediterranean Gulls. Unlike Brandon Marsh, which already has good numbers in situ, the Sand Martin structure viewed from this hide was completely barren, with not one to be found. A thirty minute stop also had ♂Pochard, Gadwall, Little Grebe and Great-crested Grebe.

From the Reed Bed Hide we tracked back and took the Reed Bed Trail, which takes you on a 1.2km walk west and back around to the Nature Centre. (2) Curlew in the adjacent fields and along the Hawthorn leading back to the centre a good selection with of note: Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Yellowhammer and Tree Sparrow.

Finally, a visit to the 360 Hide, which as the name suggests offers some excellent views of the surrounding wetland. Here the first (3) Common Terns of the day, more Yellow Wagtail and at least (3) White Wagtail. Plus excellent views of the many Avocet, which as mentioned earlier are a real accolade for the reserve.