It was a lovely, clear (and sunny!) afternoon when I arrived at Frampton Marsh today. I hadn’t been to Frampton for ages and was very glad to finally make a return visit. I set off from the car park and walked straight down to the sea-wall which separates the reserve from the salt marsh and The Wash beyond. I’ve seen and photographed lots of good birds from this location in the past and hoped that today would be no exception.
My first, excellent sighting of the day was of a lone Spotted Redshank to the left of the path just before the steps up to the sea-wall. As it was feeding quite close-in to where I was standing, I had a really good view and watched the bird for several minutes during which I rattled-off lots and lots of images. The sun was behind me and allowed the bird’s full breeding plumage to be shown to great effect. After a few minutes, the bird suddenly took-off and darted away into the distance and out of sight.
Whilst standing in the same spot from which I had photographed the Spotted Redshank, I next turned my attention to the singing of a Warbler in the nearby reeds. I couldn’t immediately tell if it was a Sedge Warbler or a Reed Warbler, (the singing of these birds can easily be confused), and decided to have a closer look for the bird in question. However, before I had time to relocate, a highly-vocal Sedge Warbler landed in the reeds just to my left and stayed long-enough for me to capture some clear images as it sang its heart out. Two really good sightings in one spot meant that today was shaping-up very well so far.
And as if my luck wasn’t good-enough already, a couple of minutes later, and a few yards further-along the path, a Reed Warbler allowed me another good sighting and photo opportunity. Warblers are beautiful singers, (as the name suggests), but ninety-nine times out of a hundred the birds can be heard easily, but not seen at all, hiding down in the reeds as they do. The fact that in the space of just a few minutes I had had the good fortune of photographing both Sedge and Reed Warblers made me feel very fortunate indeed.
After climbing up the steps to the top of the sea-wall, I surveyed the vast salt marsh laid out before me, stretching away into the distance towards The Wash. This path along the sea-wall has provided many good bird-sightings for Helen and me in the past, including a lovely Wheatear on one occasion, but even more memorable was the sight of vast flocks of Brent Geese that flew-in over our heads on our very first visit to Frampton.
Sadly, there was no Wheatear or Brent Geese flock present today, but I soon sighted a Whimbrel dabbling-about on the salt marsh a couple of hundred yards or so from my location. I took a few shots (mostly to confirm that my identification of the bird was accurate and that it wasn’t a Curlew with a very short bill!) and continued to survey the salt marsh for a few more minutes. A very distant, hazy-looking tanker was visible several miles away(?) out on The Wash, but not much else was evident. A couple of Redshank and a pair of over-flying Shelduck were about the only other birds I could see from here on this occasion, apart from the Whimbrel, which by this time had ducked out of sight in the distance!
Moving back up the path, my next stop was going to be the 360 Hide. I love this hide, and have had many great sightings of assorted waders and other birds from this fantastic location. The hide is only a few feet away from the water’s edge on the East and West-facing sides, and quite-often birds will come right up to within a few feet of the hide giving superb close-up sightings.
Today’s stand-out sighting from the 360 Hide was of a male Black-Tailed Godwit in full breeding finery. It was picking over the grass on the bank to the South of the hide and was completely unperturbed by me sticking my long lens out the window and snapping away at it from a distance of only about 20 feet or so! I spent ages watching the bird and took lots of lovely images of it as it foraged-away on the grass. At one point a larger, duller-plumaged female ‘took offence’ at his presence and ‘shooed-him away’, which only brought him even closer to the hide, and my lens – perfect!
Other birds visible from the 360 hide were a large number of Avocet, a flock of Ruff which flew-in quite close to the hide, and a plethora of very raucous Black-Headed Gulls! No birder worth their salt could possibly ever not know when the BH Gulls’ breeding season is underway!
After about an hour in the hide I decided to walk back up the path towards the Visitors’ Center. I paused to photograph a beautiful Little Egret that flew over my head, and took some shots of Goldfinches and House Sparrows on the feeders outside the VC before I returned to the car park and left the reserve feeling very pleased with the photographs I had taken today.
I hope to be paying my next visit to Frampton Marsh quite soon.