Monday, September 30, 2019

RSPB Frampton Marsh - a review

Westerlies, rain on its way, not much around, where to go ... Frampton Marsh RSPB reserve! A new venue for me and David, Mike had called by a year or so ago.

The journey. It's about 100 miles and just over 2 hours away, as is every other place on the Norfolk/Suffolk/Wash coast. We did the M11, Road of Death (A14), A1, then the Peterborough ring road at rush hour which was 'interesting', then the A16. It was straightforward and relaxing (apart from the bit when we went round a multi-lane roundabout three times in the wrong lane much to the amusement of the locals). A good journey makes the day go so much easier.

The reserve. On the plus side, its big but not so big you cannot get round it all. It's flat, which is a definite plus to a trio of gentlemen who have acquired the heft and solidity that comes with age, and it has a range of water-related habitat. It has a centre which does coffee and snacks, and some decent hides. It has helpful staff, and a couple of car parks. On the negative side, it is possibly not a full day for the active birder, and there isn't an obvious second place to visit (Freiston shore? Deeping Lakes). However, we weren't that active today.

The birds. We arrived at the centre to see thousands of Black-Tailed Godwits roosting at high tide. We were sent down to the far corner for the Pectoral Sandpiper. On the way we stopped to be shown a couple of roosting Short-Eared Owls that had been driven up by the high Spring tide (there were 7 earlier), a Peregrine on a post and 5 Marsh Harriers. If you do this in the morning then as you look into the reserve with the sun behind you, which is a distinct plus.

We got the Pec at close quarters, then carried on round to the Marsh hide via a sign advertising Sea-Aster Mining Bee, right by some Sea Asters with accompanying bee. Not much on the mud apart from an Avocet at the first hide, then 5 Ruff at the Reedbed hide, then on the way to the 360 degree hide Mike picked up a Little Stint in flight which duly settled in front of us at reasonable distance for about 15 minutes before flying off. The 360 degree hide had plenty of Wigeon, c20 Pintail, and the Stint although now quite distant.

Coffee at the centre then back down to the sea wall. We walked back along to the Pec, still rooting around in the mud, and spent an hour studying 3 Spotted Redshanks and 5 Greenshanks all showing well, flying around and calling frequently, so quite educational for me given I don't usually encounter Spotshanks in calling distance. A couple of juv Yellow Wagtails showing well on the marsh too. We must have had a hundred or so Meadow Pipits over south in small flocks, and some small parties of Swallows and House Martins.

I'd recommend a visit if you haven't been. I'd suggest trying to have a high tide in your visit as the coming and going of thousands of Blackwits with accompanying Golden Plover was spectacular. It has the feel of a place that can get passing migrants and has the records to prove it. It's up to you whether you like a leisurely day or have some other site you want to combine it with, but I'll happily head back to spend another highly pleasurable day getting quality views of notable birds in great company.