Monday, August 22, 2016

Away-Day RSPB Frampton Marsh

Another away-day for the Brandon Marsh team, sixteen of us arriving at RSPB Frampton Marsh shortly after 9am. A stiff breeze was blowing from the south-west which was maintained throughout the day, warming up quite considerably by late afternoon and only a minor shower to contend with.

Distant record shot of Turtle Doves at the barn - Four today!
Initially most of the guys decided to head off along the sheltered treeline which eventually tracks around to an open barn, favoured by Turtle Dove. Once the landscape opened out a look back across the reserve and towards the barn initially flushed two birds perched up in trees, which appeared to fly down towards the barn. We edged a little further down the track and finally four Turtle Doves were observed , mostly around the barn area and the nearby apple trees. The large lagoon adjacent to the track produced a selection of wildfowl including Pintail, Wigeon, Little Grebe and even a single Barnacle Goose among the Canada Geese resting on the bank. A couple of Yellow Wagtail while here, (6) Snipe in flight, plus Swallow, House Martin and two Sand Martin noted. By the time we'd skirted along the southern edge of the reserve and around towards the sea bank and salt marsh Skylark, Ruff, Green Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, summer plumage Golden Plover, Sparrowhawk, Whitethroat and three Swift were added to the now growing day list.

Whinchat - So many photo opportunities missed today but I just wanted to enjoy the birds!
From here a first look across the salt marsh from the bank in what was a challenging wind produced (2) Kestrel, (3) Marsh Harrier, several more Yellow Wagtails which were abundant today, Whinchat and a total of five Wheatear by the time we reached the gate down to the central path. Further scans before Heading to the '360' Hide for lunch produced Knot and a look over the pools on the fresh marsh during a rain shower registered our first of many (200+) Curlew Sandpipers, Dunlin and the first of three or four Little Stints.

Unprecedented 200+ Curlew Sandpipers at Frampton today!
A chance to catch up over lunch in the hide gave some really close views of Curlew Sandpiper. While here Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Little Stint, Avocet and huge numbers of Black-tailed Godwit.

Good comparison of Curlew Sandpiper (left) and Dunlin bill!
After lunch the most adventurous among us decided to walk the 4 mile round trip along the river to Witham mouth, something that's been on my bucket list for sometime. Difficult to bird the many bushes along this stretch in the strong breeze but Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler were noted and along the river Curlew, Oystercatcher and Redshank, with the odd Wheatear every so often along the bank. A bit of a surprise was a single Brent Goose on the salt marsh! We arrived some time later at the mouth which offers excellent views out to sea, but it was probably not the best timing as the high tide was much earlier in the day! After settling, or should I say collapsing on rocks and an ideally placed length of plank first birds of note were a stunning summer plumage Grey Plover and a couple of Little Terns on the mud, one seemingly a juvenile bird, with mum occasionally dropping in to feed. Many Seals basking on the sand banks, Bar-tailed Godwit, more Grey Plover and Curlew, then distant views of a Peregrine. We spent an enjoyable time here, probably better observed at high tide and arrived back at the centre some time later happy with our lot but nevertheless knackered.

A Barn Owl quartering as we left on route for fish and chips was a fitting end to a really enjoyable and spectacular days birding.

Little Stint - Courtesy of Fred Stokes

Species Seen:

Mute Swan, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Brent Goose, Barnacle Goose, Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Pintail, Wigeon, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Peregrine, Moorhen, Coot, Oystercatcher, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Ruff, Knot, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Green Sandpiper, Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Curlew, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Snipe, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Little Tern, Stock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Turtle Dove, Barn Owl, Swift, Green Woodpecker, Skylark, Sand Martin, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Robin, Blackbird, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Wren, Whinchat, Wheatear, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Magpie, Jay, Carrion Crow,
Starling, Chaffinch, Linnet, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Reed Bunting