All day the background sounds were the deep guttural mutterings of brent geese overlaid by the higher pitched susurations of smaller waders, mainly golden plover. There were thousands of both birds present at RSPB Frampton yesterday as well as similar numbers of lapwing and wigeon. It was stunning to be surrounded by so many birds all day. Along with the sounds we were periodically treated to the spectacular sight of thousands of waders wheeling in the air in a murmuration, possibly when frighted by a passing raptor. This was probably marsh harrier, although kestrel, merlin and hen harrier were also present. The brent geese were also constantly filling the sky as they flew backwards and forwards from their Wash feeding grounds like squadrons of heavy bombers flying in formation.
Brian and I had arrived in the car park around 11.00 am and were somewhat dismayed by the large numbers of birders setting out from the car park. As it turned out the large size of the reserve swallowed up the numbers and I put it down to the beautiful weather - a perfect winter day with cloudless skies and temperatures around 4C. Having checked in at the visitor centre we headed down through the centre of the reserve along the main track to the sea wall. From up here there are spectacular views over the lagoons and scrapes of the reserve as well as out over the expansive salt marsh towards the River Welland and The Wash beyond. We enjoyed lunch in the sun here, delighting in views of birds wheeling in the air and also the stirring sight of that mini-raider, a female merlin, which zipped across in front of us and then gave excellent views through the 'scope as it perched on a nearby fence post.
After lunch we dropped back down onto the reserve and followed the path to the East Hide. The highlight from here was finding one of the 3 little stints on the reserve. It was in the company of a dunlin so it was satisfying to be able to compare sizes, the stint being about 2/3 the size of the dunlin. Whilst walking around to the 360 hide we had excellent views of a pair of stonechat which I was able to photograph and then another male as we approached the 360 hide. Here there were more views of the stint and dunlin as well as close views of lapwing and greylag geese.
Eventually it was time to return to the centre and think about the journey home but first we checked the sightings board. We had missed one or two good birds: hen harrier, whooper swan and long-tailed duck, but we had enjoyed one of my best days at Frampton, topped off by excellent views of ruff and snipe in perfect light just before returning to the car.
To view large, please click on an image.