174 – Corn Bunting
Helen and I went to Frampton Marsh today. It was a bright and fairly warm day with just a light breeze blowing – just perfect for a walk round one of our favourite reserves. I’d been watching the Frampton Marsh blog over the last few days and was aware of the huge numbers (and variety) of waders that were reported to be currently present on-site. A few days ago, in fact, no fewer than twenty-one different wader speciess were recorded from the 360° Hide alone! We wanted some of that!
On arrival we decided to walk down to the sea-wall first of all. We’ve had lots of sightings of good birds down there in the past and thought it would be a good place to start.
Immediately, we were able to see large numbers of Dunlin and Black Tailed Godwit on the marsh to the left of the path as we approached the sea-wall. Water levels have reduced dramatically since my last visit and this has created ideal wader conditions.
Our first real treat, though, was when we climbed the steps to the sea-wall and looked out over the salt marsh towards the Wash. In a bush just in front of us was a very tame Sedge Warbler which posed for us for a good couple of minutes. The bird was only a few feet away from us which allowed us to get some very detailed close-up images of it, albeit always partially obscured by annoying bits of shrubbery, as usual! A great start to the day though.
As we walked around the sea-wall in the direction of East Hide we saw a great many birds including a lovely Little Ringed Plover. I was particularly pleased to capture some images of that bird as my previous ‘best’ shot of a LRP left a fair bit to be desired!
Today’s sightings really started to mount-up though when we entered East Hide. There were at least fifteen other birders there already when we arrived, and we had to wait patiently for our turn to get anywhere near the front of the pack. The wait was well worth it though; just in front of the hide were a number of Ringed Plover, including two quite recently hatched chicks which were darting around the muddy margins of the water, pecking constantly at their feet to try to pick up any juicy morsels they could find. They were very fragile-looking bundles of fluff basically – but very nimble and agile with it. There were various cooing noises coming from the direction of some of the ladies present!
Other great birds we could see from East Hide included about a dozen Little Egrets, several Cormorants, a huge number of distant Black Tailed Godwits, a Spotted Redshank, several Mute Swans and a single Common Tern (which I didn’t notice at the time but discovered later at home on two of my images!).
After a half hour or so we left the hide and carried-on our circular walk in the direction of the 360° Hide. There are regularly-reported sightings of Corn Buntings in this area of the reserve, and Helen and I had yet to see one. However, today was our lucky day as a pair of Corn Buntings were perched atop some weeds along the trail and we were lucky enough to capture quite a few images of this new bird over the course of the next ten minutes or so.
As we left the spot where the birds were, we met some other birders coming in the opposite direction. I took the liberty of informing them of the presence of the Buntings, telling them exactly where to find them so that they could also enjoy the sighting. I mention this fact because it’s one of the great things about birding – the willingness to share information with complete strangers who obviously have a common interest. Wherever I’ve been birding I’ve always found it incredibly easy to strike-up conversation with fellow-birders, and to share information on what birds are present on the reserve on that day and where they were last seen. Birders really are lovely people!
Anyway – back to the plot! The 360° Hide was very busy today – and little wonder! Just in front of the hide, where Helen and I have previously had excellent wader sightings in the past, a large group of Dunlin were feeding on the mud right under our noses! The birds were totally oblivious to the birders in the hide and carried-on feeding regardless. A number of Black Tailed Godwits soon joined them and we had the most intimate, close-up views of these marvellous birds that we’d ever had. There were other birds also present including Avocet and Ruff, but it was the antics of the Godwits as they jostled each other for position that was most enjoyable to watch. They can be surprisingly noisy (and quite boisterous) when you’re up close to a group of them.
All too soon our time was up and we had to reluctantly head back towards the car park to drive back home. Today had been my tenth visit to Frampton Marsh. It is a truly fabulous reserve and continues to rank very highly in my list of favourite birding locations.