A few days ago I took a trip over to Frampton Marsh RSPB in Lincolnshire and was awake at 4.20am and on the road by 5am. At that time in the morning it was an easy, uneventful trip across from Cheshire which is not always the case going from west to east in this part of the country!
As I arrived I was told that the bird that had drawn me here was still present, but arriving at the lagoon I soon found out that it had just flown off, hopefully to come back later. In the meantime I decided to busy myself with checking out the reserve and its bird-life. The main lagoon was awash with waders, a huge gathering of Black-tailed Godwits, several Bar-tailed Godwits, a few Knot and Dunlin and best of all a summer-plumaged adult Curlew Sandpiper. There was also a real surprise, a Whooper Swan, more often a winter visitor. I can only assume this was an injured bird that stayed on after the rest of its flock migrated in spring. I then decided on a circuit round the lagoons via the 'Sea Wall' route. My first call was Reedbed Hide where I identified a Green Sandpiper for a couple of birders in there who had spotted it but weren’t sure of its identification.
I next set about checking the lagoons on my route round the reserve and added some great birds to my day-list, including 7 Spotted Redshanks together, some of these still in black summer plumage. Also seen were a juvenile Black-necked Grebe, a Ruff and a Ringed Plover. A few pairs of Avocets were present, some with chicks, and all being aggressive to every other bird on the lagoons as usual.
A group of over 200 Knot included some summer-plumaged brick red birds which looked extremely smart in the bright sunshine. A single Egyptian Goose wasn’t uncommon on this side of the country but in Cheshire this would have been a scarce bird. On the return down the track towards the Visitor Centre lagoon I watched a smart Wood Sandpiper on a small pool but it flew before I could get any photographs. As I arrived at the lagoon I got the news I wanted to hear, the main attraction was back which I was soon watching, namely the long-staying Caspian Tern which was in the middle of the lagoon, mostly sleeping but occasionally lifting its head to reveal its huge bright red beak.
Also present now was a Little Stint and a Common Sandpiper. Over on the far side of the same lagoon more 'sleeping birds' were seen, this time 13 Spoonbills, an impressive group of this strange looking waterbird species which is now colonising this country. A few other bird species were added after I'd eaten my lunch, including Water Rail, a party of Yellow Wagtails and a Sedge Warbler breeding right next to the path and showing down to literally 3 feet.
I have only been to Frampton Marsh RSPB once before but they have improved the reserve immensely since that last visit. I am very impressed with it now and am looking forward to heading back soon. Without trying too hard I amassed 64 species and left relatively early, at 1.30pm, to avoid any traffic. I didn't do the farmland trail where Turtle Doves were being seen and could easily have added at least 10 more species. I ended up with four new birds for the year and enjoyed a great day at a fabulous reserve.