I went to Frampton Marsh today. It was quite a nice Spring day when I arrived; the sun was shining again and there was very little breeze.
No sooner had I left the car when I spotted two Ruff about 50ft from me on a pond by the car-park. I quickly got my camera ready and took a few shots of them. There are usually a good many Ruff at Frampton, and at certain times of the year they really confuse some less-experienced birders with the range of variability of their plumage. This was a handsome pair with the male, in particular, showing signs of his moult into breeding plumage.
I walked down towards the sea wall hoping to catch a glimpse (or more!) of the Spotted Redshanks that had been reported there this week. Helen and I had great views of a male Spot-Red in full breeding plumage at the same spot on a previous visit, last year. Alas, no Spotted Redshanks today; the water levels in the various ponds and lagoons around the reserve still seem a bit high to me, which means that there are currently far fewer islands for waders to land on (and feed from) than I’ve seen here before.
I next walked along the sea wall itself, keeping a watchful eye out over the salt-marsh in the hope of seeing a Wheatear – they had also been reported here this week, (along with Yellow and White Wagtails), and once again Helen and I had seen one here on a previous visit. Well, I had no trouble finding the White Wagtails, but I didn’t see any Wheatear or Yellow Wagtails today. I did see a rather distant Meadow Pipit, however. They’re always a pleasure to see.
At around this point I found myself dogged by a group of about half a dozen little girls aged about six or seven, who were running excitedly along the sea wall (near where I was), well-ahead of their parents, and shouting their heads off. Several birds that I was ‘stalking’ were put to flight. As I realised I wasn’t easily going to get away from the noisy little ratbags, who somehow seemed to want to keep pace with me, I decided to abandon walking all the way round the sea wall and returned the way I had come. I know, I know, it was a Sunday, and it’s really good for youngsters to be out in the fresh air enjoying the nature around them etc etc, but still – grrr!
After that I walked to the 360° Hide, which is usually a great spot for watching waders. Today I watched some Avocet and Black Headed Gulls, both of which species were nesting on the islands near the hide. There were a few Redshank and assorted ducks including Teal, Shoveler and Gadwall about as well. In the distance I could see large groups of Brent Geese still present on the reserve. There was also a solitary Ringed Plover sitting at the edge of one of the islands.
Next, I spent a few minutes in the Reedbed Hide, where I scanned the various islands in front of me. I knew there were a couple of Mediterranean Gulls out there somewhere, but it was much too difficult to pick them out amongst the thousands of breeding Black Headed Gulls that have completely swamped the islands currently.
As I walked back up the path to the car, I photographed a lovely Reed Bunting perched in a tree against a beautiful blue sky. That was probably my best bird of the day, photographically speaking.
Not one of my best birding photography days then, but it was nonetheless great to be out in the fresh air, listening to Skylarks floating high in the sky above me and assorted warblers lurking somewhere in the hedgerows, just out of sight. Frampton Marsh remains one of my favourite reserves.