Ton Up at RSPB Frampton Marsh

Saturday 29th April 2017.

The superb Frampton reserve continues to improve, year on year and can now rival some of the top reserves in the country. Ben Ward and myself decided to have a proper go at a daylist, we thought we could crack the 100 species mark with a bit of an effort. It was great to have the bird magnet with me again! We had originally planned to visit midweek but delayed it due to the wintry weather. It was a good move, as a few new birds were in and the wind had swung round to a more southerly or south westerly direction. Mind you, it was still chilly in the breeze.

Birding in the dark was a thrilling experience, strange and weird calls could be heard, we accepted that we couldn’t identify all of them but a wide variety of familiar sounds seemed amplified in the dark.

03:30am. As soon as we got out of the car, parking at the reservoir, a cetti’s warbler was blasting out song, also a reed warbler. Lapwings were very noisy, one close bird constantly calling sounded a bit owl-like at times. When daylight dawned we could see some lapwings with chicks, just hours old. A tawny owl was calling and ducks, skylarks, redshanks, snipe and geese were heard.

04:15am. With the first chinks of light came a flurry of chorus and lots of birds were added. A few silhouettes of ducks and swans could be made out.

04:49am. The pair of scaup were still on the reservoir.

05:00am. We walked down to the sea wall, via the far hedgerow. 3 turtle doves purred away nicely. At least 15 whimbrels showed. A whooper swan was with mutes. There were lots of ruff, some looking amazing, all in varying dress. We saw our first wheatear of the day. A splendid breeding plumage wood sandpiper brought our list to 66 by 07:00am. still at the reservoir area, further searching gave us a few hard to get birds like rook, green woodpecker, jay, buzzard and red-legged partridge.

08:30am. We drove round to the main car park, lots of coffee and some birding junk food fired us up for a walk around the reserve. 3 Mediterranean gulls, a pair and a single called and showed well. A cuckoo was singing and later, it or another flew around. There was a fairly high tide and lots of waders were roosting and preening. Knot, dunlin, blackwits, ringed plovers, grey plovers, turnstones, redshanks, little ringed plovers and a curlew sandpiper were welcomed into the notebook. A pair of Egyptian geese had a brood of five goslings. (later, 7 noted by another birder). This was amazing, as it was the first sighting here of this species this year! Where did they nest? Must have been off the beaten track. How far did the parents bring the family to get them there there? Six common terns rested on one of the islands. Corn bunting sat up and sang at the far side of reedbed scrape. Two marsh harriers seen from sea bank. We had registered 90 species soon after 09:00am.

Next up, it was the hike to the Witham mouth. The tickometer slowed down considerably from here on in. Nothing on the sea, not much in the bushes. Two  uncooperative ring ouzels and some feral pigeons were the only additions over the next two hours. We saw lots more whimbrels and a couple more wheatears showed. A fourth turtle dove was at the mouth and flew inland.

Early pm. Back at the scrapes, couldn’t wait to get back to the visitor centre for more coffee. We located the resident barnacle goose and spotted a peregrine fly over the reserve. The first of twenty odd yellow wags was seen. The grasshopper warbler proved very elusive, I didn’t hear it, but Ben did. List up to 100 by mid afternoon. The word had somehow got round that we were going for it and people were asking “what you up to now, lads?” This drove us on.

4:30pm. Hard work to add anything new now. A couple of hours back on the sea wall produced little stint and pintail. Another marsh harrier, this time a mature tri-coloured adult was a joy to watch at close range. We finished up on 104 full species. ( sparrowhawk, jay and grasshopper warbler by Ben only). We never saw or heard a song thrush all day. Reserve warden Toby informed us that this was the first time that a three figure count had been notched in a single day. I somehow think this total won’t stand for too long at this ever-improving site. Also seen was a white wagtail. We departed the reserve around 8:30pm.

List, and counts;

  1. cettis warbler
  2. wigeon, still twenty-thirty on site
  3. pheasant
  4. teal, still several pairs around
  5. reed warbler, dozen or so
  6. snipe, several heard pre dawn
  7. curlew, a few
  8. moorhen
  9. mallard
  10. lapwing, quite a few breeding pairs some already with chicks
  11. tawny owl, calling
  12. redshank, 50+
  13. skylark, many
  14. mute swan, 20+
  15. blackbird
  16. tufted duck, mostly paired up, didn’t count them
  17. woodpigeon
  18. pochard, a few
  19. scaup, pair on reservoir
  20. wren
  21. shoveler, didn’t count them perhaps 40+
  22. robin
  23. dunnock
  24. blackcap, a few singing males
  25. greylag
  26. yellowhammer, 10
  27. whitethroat, 6
  28. turtle dove, 3 in hedgerow, 1 at witham mouth.
  29. little egret 20+
  30. black headed gull, hundreds
  31. coot
  32. great crested grebe, a few pairs
  33. chaffinch
  34. herring gull
  35. gadwall, didn’t count them
  36. carrion crow
  37. sedge warbler, lots now in
  38. avocet, 60+
  39. shelduck, 80+
  40. cormorant
  41. grey heron, 5
  42. magpie
  43. linnet
  44. common gull
  45. brent goose, 500+ still here
  46. black tailed godwit, 40+
  47. kestrel, 3
  48. meadow pipit
  49. great black backed gull
  50. spotted redshank, 2 or 3
  51. ringed plover, 20+
  52. marsh harrier, 3
  53. little ringed plover, a few pairs
  54. oystercatcher, a few on reserve, 200+ at Witham mouth
  55. lesser black backed gull, 10+
  56. ruff, 50+
  57. whimbrel, 15 on grassland, 50+ at Witham mouth
  58. swallow, odd ones and twos through all day
  59. whooper swan, wet grassland
  60. goldfinch
  61. starling
  62. wheatear, 1 near res, 2 seawall
  63. pied wagtail
  64. wood sandpiper, near res
  65. stock dove, a few pairs
  66. blue tit
  67. red legged partridge,2
  68. common sandpiper, res
  69. great tit
  70. rook
  71. jay (only seen by Ben)
  72. mistle thrush
  73. green woodpecker,2
  74. jackdaw
  75. buzzard,3
  76. collared dove
  77. greenfinch
  78. chiffchaff
  79. house sparrow
  80. long tailed tit
  81. little grebe
  82. mediterranian gull, a pair and a single
  83. canada goose
  84. tree sparrow
  85. house martin, over vc
  86. reed bunting
  87. grasshopper warbler, (only heard by Ben)
  88. egyptian goose, family
  89. cuckoo, 1, poss 2
  90. dunlin, 100+
  91. curlew sandpiper, winter plumage
  92. knot, c30
  93. corn bunting
  94. sparrowhawk (only seen by Ben)
  95. common tern, 6
  96. turnstone 6
  97. grey plover, c40
  98. feral pigeon
  99. ring ouzel, 2, Tabbs head walk
  100. peregrine
  101. yellow wagtail, c25
  102. barnacle goose
  103. little stint
  104. pintail, pair
  105. (white wagtail) (sub sp), 6