Wednesday, 4 November 2020

RSPB Frampton Marsh, Boston

Greylag Geese Anser anser

 Wednesday 4 November

The final day before England shuts down and Boris throws away the keys, etc!  A clear and sunny start to the day following a slight overnight frost so a later than expected start to drive over to RSPB Frampton Marsh on the outskirts of Boston.  An interesting drive across which produced Crows, Rooks and Jackdaws along with large flocks of Starlings, multitudes of Black-headed Gulls feeding in the harvesting fields as I approached and even a low Buzzard immediately in front of the car as I approached Spalding.  But arriving at the reserve it was pretty obvious that all the other local birders were also making a final sortie before lockdown with an almost full main car park so straight down towards the high bank to park in the alternative car park and check out the flooded fields and pools.

Just a few of the thousands of Wigeon Anas penelope

Thousands of Wigeon had arrived for the winter along with hundreds of both Teal and Starlings.  On the water a few Mallard and Shoveler with the Teal but also lots of Canada and Greylag Geese. However, my biggest surprise was to find a quartet of White-fronted Geese looking very clean and bright.  Now I wonder how long, and for how long, theses migrants had been on site?  In the distance I could see a solitary Little Egret and to my right a small number of Shelduck.  With Lapwing appearing to be everywhere much concentration needed to find the occasional Moorhen and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  At least four Magpies recorded in the area and then a walk up to the top of the high bank to check out the Salt Marsh and far side of the reserve towards Boston.

More Greylag Anser anser but where are the White-fronted Geese Anser albifrons?

Very little to be seen on the Salt Marsh but I did scope a distant Marsh Harrier quartering the far area towards the river.  Towards the East Hide I pick up a handful of Brent Geese along with more Shelduck. Returning to the car I took another look at the water and discovered a busy feeding Snipe in the short grass beyond the handful of Teal whilst scoping the thousands of mixed Wigeon, Lapwing and Starlings along with Teal I found a foraging Common Sandpiper.

Only thirteen of hundreds of Lapwing Vanellus vanellus

Moving back to the main car park I was disappointed to find the main water at the Visitors Centre completely devoid of bird life as maintenance was on-going.  Most disappointing for me and other observers if this was to be the last opportunity to visit the site.  It probably now comes down to how far one can travel for their exercise!  Other than another Magpie nothing to see in the neighbouring hedgerows albeit plenty of fruit on display so, in time, no doubt many winter thrushes will be arriving.  However away from the car park towards the farm buildings I did pick out a couple of Curlew and a resting Mute Swan.

Magpie Pica pica

Rather than straight back to Stamford, upon leaving, passing a resting female Kestrel and a flying Pied Wagtail, I then took the opportunity to drive down the farm road/track just beyond the reserve to look at the large irrigation pond at the back of Wet Grassland and also see the previous large flocks from the other side with the sun behind me.  And most worthwhile it proved to be.  Not that many birds on the pond but there was a quartet of Gadwall, a pair of Pochard, and a few Tufted Ducks.

Female Kestrel Falco tinnunculus about to depart

Returning along the lane I stopped for fifteen minutes in an avenue of trees about an hundred metres before re-joining the road away from the reserve to Frampton village.  I had seen movement and patient waiting in the car produced a number of Chaffinches plus Blackbird, Great and Blue Tits.  Even a little "Jenny" Wren landed at the base of a tree on my left then "hopped" over the lane to rest on a low branch to my right.  Whilst all this was going on I was aware of a dark shape in the tall vegetation and eventually the long tail followed by the body revealed a cock Pheasant.

So, time to move on and a call at Baton Gravel Pits on my way back but hardly had I set off than I had a number of Wood Pigeon and approaching Spalding a Red Kite immediately in front of me trying to decide how to access the carrion on the main road.  Another Buzzard was seen approaching Deeping St Nichols which may well have been the same bird that I saw on the way out.

Baston Gravel Pits seemed almost full to bursting following the recent rains and on the western pond I had a large flock of Lapwing along with Mallard, Shoveler, Wigeon and a single Cormorant.  A few Black-headed Gulls and even a Little Grebe put in an appearance.  Checking the eastern pool behind me I found far more Black-headed Gulls and maybe a dozen or more Cormorants.  In addition, a few Coots and Tufted Ducks made up the numbers.

More Wigeon Anas penelope

Finally, departing the waters towards Baston I stopped immediately after the junction to check-out the large flock of Lapwing and Black-headed Gulls feeding on the field on my right.  A few Starlings were amongst the larger birds and right at the front of the field a pair of Greylag Geese.  To my right and beating a hasty retreat along the hedge a trio of Hares, whilst the cock Pheasant took his time to amble away.  And all this watched over by the male Kestrel on the wire above.

Feeding Lapwing Vanellus vanellus and a few Starlings Sturnus vulgaris watched by Black-headed Gulls Larus ridibundus

Birds seen:

Greylag Goose, White-fronted Goose, Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Snipe, Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Starling, Chaffinch.

Teal Anas crecca
Shoveler Anas clypeata
Mainly Canada Geese Branta canadensis
Yet more Wigeon Anas penelope to finish

Check out the accompanying website at for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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