SOARING SKYLARKS @ RSPB FRAMPTON MARSH
On my journey home from Norfolk I called in at Frampton
Marsh which is a nature reserve managed by both the RSPB and Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. It is situated on the western coast of The Wash, four miles south of the town of Boston between the Rivers Welland and Witham near the village of Frampton.
Frampton Marsh has three trails you can follow - Reedbed, Wash & Grassland. The Reedbed trail is 1.2 miles long and takes you round the reserve's reedbeds. The Wash trail is 2.2 miles long and takes you round an area of freshwater scrapes and wet grassland as well as giving you views of The Wash and the very large salt marshes. The Grassland trail is the longest at 2.8 miles and is a circular route round a large area of wet grassland with the view point at the south eastern point being a good place to see birds of prey.
It was a bright sunny day when I arrived and on the wet grassland next to the car park there were several Brent Geese, four Barnacle Geese, Lapwings, Pied Wagtails and a single Ruff. I walked across to the visitor centre and visiting the feeders to the left of the building were Goldfinches, House Sparrows, Great Tits and a single Blue Tit. Out on the water in front of the hide I could see around a hundred Black Headed Gulls as well as a few Mute Swans and a single Goldeneye.
I left the visitor centre and headed east along the Wash Trail and to my left I could see Coots and Wigeons. After about two hundred yards the trail splits in two to form a loop and I followed the path to the left towards the first hide. To my right, amongst the reeds, I heard and then briefly saw a Cetti's Warbler as it rose up and flew through the reeds before disappearing again. Further along the trail I turned right and walked the short distance to the 360 Hide.
To the left of the hide I could see Avocets, Black Tailed Godwits, Redshanks and a Ruff making its way along the edge of the water. On the grass in front of the hide there were a pair of Skylarks searching for food and flying overheard were more than two hundred Brent Geese. Round to the right hand side of the hide I could see a pair of Little Ringed Plovers moving along the edge of a mud bank. From here I left the hide and continued along the Wash Trail, sidestepping a pair of aggressive Canada Geese which had chosen to nest very close to the path.
A short distance further on I came to the Reedbed Hide which looks out over a large expanse of water surrounded by reedbeds. Out on the water I could see Coots, Mute Swans and around a hundred Black Headed Gulls. Over to the left there were a group of Canada Geese and on an island in the middle of the water I could see more than forty Black Tailed Godwits. I left the hide and turned left following the Wash Trail, whilst moving round yet another pair aggressive of Canada Geese.
As the trail turned eastwards a pair of Skylarks rose up from the grass and in a field to my left there were around twenty five Mute Swans. Further along the path a group of Linnets flew overhead and landed on the top of a tall grassy bank to my left. Halfway along the northern part of the loop the path splits in two with the left hand path going up some steps and onto the top of the grassy bank / sea wall. I took the right hand path which takes you to the East Hide and as I walked along the path Reed Buntings flew across the path and into the reeds.
In the water at the other side of the reeds were several Avocets and as I reached the hide a pair of Skylarks flew overhead and landed nearby. In the water in front of the hide were a few Coots whilst over to the right along the water's edge there were Shelducks, Avocets and a lone Ringed Plover. Further round to the right there were a pair of Skylarks scurrying back and forth probing the mud for food for several minutes before rising up into the air singing away.
I left the hide and retraced my steps to where the path had split and this time took the left hand path and climbed up the steps to the top of the sea wall. As I walked along the sea wall a large group of Avocets rose up from the water to my right circling round and calling out and after three or four loops round they landed back in the same place. Also on the water there were Redshanks, Black Tailed Godwits and a single Curlew and on a fence post at the bottom was a Reed Bunting.
The sea wall now turned southwards along the eastern edge of the reserve where Skylarks were rising up and singing overhead. I walked along the path to where an American wader, the Long Billed Dowitcher, had been seen for the last five months. It had been seen earlier that day but sadly not for a while and so after waiting to see if it would appear I carried on and followed the Wash Trail as it descended the sea wall and flying overhead were several hundred Brent Geese.
The path now headed west along a track towards the visitor centre and in the water to my left I saw several Tufted Ducks, a couple of Coots and a Great Crested Grebe. On the wet grassland behind the water were around two hundred more Brent Geese and soaring overhead were yet more Skylarks. As I neared the visitor centre I saw a Skylark sat on a post and in the field a pair of Pied Wagtails collecting nest material for a nest they were building next to the visitor centre.
Hovering over a hedge near the visitor centre was a Kestrel whilst Goldfinches, Great Tits and a Blue Tit were still visiting the feeders. I sat down to eat a late lunch on a picnic table next to the visitor centre and on the top of the hedge were a group of House Sparrows patiently waiting for their turn on the feeders. As I walked back to the car the Pied Wagtails flew overhead and landed in the field next to the car park.
I have attached a few photos and a full sightings list from my visit to RSPB Frampton Marsh.