Friday, 9 August 2019

Frampton Marsh and Long-billed Dowitcher

Distant Spotted Redshank Tringa erythropus
Thursday 8 August

The best day of the week with warm sunshine and pleasant conditions forecast before the onset of tonight's rain and storms and getting worse over the week-en.  So off once again to RSPB Framton Marsh near Boston, Lincs where I met up with birding friends Chris Bell and Rosie Taylor for a long and productive day's birding; absolutely wonderful, both in terms of the birding and the company.

Arriving first at about 9.30 I was greeted bu the usual Wood Pigeons as I entered the site the a good number of feeding Barn Swallows near the Visitors Centre. Noting where the "specials" had been seen yesterday I headed straight down to the far park near the steps up to the Saltmarsh bank and could not but help notice the Starlings, Mute Swans, Lapwings and Mallards as I made my way eastwards.  Once parked up I reckoned I had about thirty minutes before Chris and Rosie arrived so concentrated on searching for the reported Long-billed Dowitcher, Spotted Redshank and Curlew Sandpiper.  But I was to be sadly disappointed on all counts.  However to the south of the road there was a large flock of Dunlin, a few Black-tailed Godwit and a small number of both Avocet and Shelduck.  However, looking northwards the pools produced hundreds of Black-tailed Godwit and more Lapwing and Mallard.  A Little Grebe was active in front of me and a number of more distant Little Egrets were noted.  This northern side also produce many Canada Geese a smaller number of Greylag Geese.

Avocet Recurvirostra avosetta

Back on the other side of the road I was able to add a Common Redshank and couple of Ringed Plover.  Leaving the basking Cormorant to enjoy the early morning sun I noted first Sedge quickly followed by the Reed Warbler.  On the path a couple of Reed Bunting moving about along with a single Pied Wagtail.  However, by far the greatest attraction was the huge number of feeding Sand Martins overhead and later confirmed that last night's roost had counted more more than 4000 individuals.  Obviously, the hirundine migration is underway.  Getting back into the car to drive up to the min car park i had a couple of Goldfinch in the nearby tree and the first of many sightings of Ruff during the day.

Peek-a-boo Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus

Arriving back at the car park Rosie and Chris had just arrived so time for a quick coffee before setting off for the 360 Hide.  Out on the waters in front of the Visitors Centre we picked up Little Grebe, Moorhen, more Dunlin and both a Greenshank and Spotted Redshank as well as Mallards and Mute Swans not to mention the House Sparrows on the feeders.

Apart from the Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula at the front can you find anything other than Dunlin Calidris alpina?
Walking down to the first hide a small crop of sunflowers held both Goldfinch and Linnet and as the latter moved to the nearby bushes we were able to locate a single Common Whitethroat.  A Green Sandpiper then Yellow Wagtail were noted just before taking the main path to the hide which produced a little adventure.  The path was flooded for about fifty metres, not as a result of rain but a delay in turning off the tap when transferring water from the Reedbed to the Freshwater Scrape!  Nothing forward but to plough our way through which resulted in arriving at the 360 Hide with wet trainers and one very wet sock.  The hide to ourselves, presumably as a result of other visitors not venturing into the "river" so shoe and sock on the windowsill to dry in the bright sunshine as we studied the various waters!

Strange Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula with white wing markings
The first of two Marsh Harriers was seen to the north and then a more concentrated study of what was about including another basking Cormorant.  More Black-tailed Godwits, Little Grebe, Mallard, Mute Swan and Lapwing along with a few Shelduck and Avocet. At the same time no shortage of Common Starling and then we found the Sand Martin roost which, until the Marsh Harrier drifted over, probably held over an hundred individuals with many more in the air but, I suspect, thousands had already moved on.

Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus being mobbed by Sand Martins Riparia riparia

With my damp sock hanging out of my rucksack to continue drying we moved on to the Reedbed Hide.  Not long before we found the juvenile Black-necked Grebe and a close by pair of Tufted Duck.  More Lapwing and loads of Black-tailed Godwits before checking out the Dunlin resting with the former we located a single Knot.  To the very far side another Ruff and then a Carrion Crow flew in to rest in the bare tree on the centre of the water.  Apart from the many Black-headed Gulls we also found a Herring Gull plus more Ringed Plover and a couple of Little Ringed Plover.

Lapwing Vanellus vanellus with Ruff Philomachus pugnax

The continuing walk back to the Visitors Centre to continue the loop and avoid returning via the flooded footpath produced a number of Coot as well as more Sedge Warbler.  Time to partake of our picnic lunch during which time we recorded both Blackbird and Collared Dove followed by an adult and juvenile Great Crested Grebe then off down to the far car park for the continued search for our rarities.

From the far car park we were able to observe the ten Spoonbill and plenty of Black-tailed Godwit and Dunlin but none of the target birds.  However, I did find a couple of Teal then it was up onto the Saltmarsh bank.  Also added was yet another Common Sandpiper.

Six of the ten Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia on site
Once we had recorded the single Whimbrel diligent searching of the marsh below us eventually produced a male Curlew along with four juveniles.  A Meadow Pipit flew up from below and the searching the pools on the Wet Grassland we found a party of 15 Golden Plover.  Before moving southwards we added a rather lovely Northern Wheatear then on to overlook the pools on the far side of the road we found both Ruff and Wood Sandpiper plus a group of five Spotted Redshank.  Chris carried on the the final pool where he saw the Little Stint whilst away in front of us was a Great White Egret.  Nearer to us it was also Chris who found our only Snipe of the day and the, on the saltmarsh itself, I found a Kestrel using one of the small posts as a plucking station to enjoy his lunch and another nearby Herring Gull.

Curlew Numenius arquata

So back to the car which we had brought, just the one, down this small car park.  A quartet of birders using the bank opposite seemed most engrossed checking out yet another (small) flock of Black-tailed Godwits and informed us that they had found the Long-billed Dowitcher.  Much searching as the bird was well concealed both behind the godwits and a grassy tuft but spot it we did.  What a way to end our day; both the Long-billed Dowitcher and Spotted Redshanks seen along with almost sixty other species.

Hidden behind these few Black-tailed Godwits Limosa limosa and the grass was the visiting Long-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus scolopaceus - very difficult to spot withou a scope and hidden most of the time

Back to the Visitors Centre for a final coffee before departure and, outside on the feeder, we even added both Blue Tit and Greenfinch to the day's tally.  Whilst Chris and Rosie went off to try and find the local breeding pair of Turtle Dove I made my way home and as soon as I reached the main A16 road was able to add the large flock of Rooks resting on the wires to my list.  I wonder if Chris and Rosie found the Turtle Dove?

Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe
Birds seen:
Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Mallard, Teal, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Spoonbill, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Avocet, Little Ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Little Stint, Dunlin, Ruff, Snipe, Long-billed Dowitcher, Black-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Common Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, Yellow Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Common Whitethroat, Blue Tit, Rook, Carrion Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Reed Bunting.


Ruff Philomachus pugnax

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