Sunday, 19 August 2018

At last! Frampton Marsh, 17th August.

After making our annual visit on Friday morning to the Rutland Birdwatching Fair we had travelled onwards to Lincolnshire and made another call into the RSPB reserve at Frampton Marsh. This reserve, sited as it is on the edge of the Wash, is a real gem and attracts wading birds in their thousands as well as many other sought after species. This would be a quick visit since it was already pushing 15:00 by the time we arrived. The car park was virtually empty too so it would be a nice relaxing few hours as well, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the Birdfair marquees. We checked in with the warden, and on getting the information that we required, made our way out towards the sea wall.

The reason we'd come back here so soon after our last visit (see Frampton Marsh, 23rd July) was to hopefully get some good views of a bird that I'd been hoping to see close up for years. So far this year I had already seen 3 Wood Sandpipers but all had been distant and, although decent scope views had been had, I was lacking any decent images. Encouragingly a juvenile type Wood Sandpiper had been showing well by the bottom car park here for a couple of days, although it could also be very mobile and was prone to disappearing, so with Rutland being only an hour away it was a no-brainer not to have a go for it. Further encouragement had come in the form of some good sightings of the bird earlier in the day too.

We had been told that the Wood Sandpiper favoured a shallow ditch which runs alongside the road so when we came to the channel we started searching in earnest. The first bird seen was a Green Sandpiper but that flew off, as they often do, at the first sign of us approaching. A juvenile female type Ruff was much more confiding and it stood preening and stretching on the other side of the stream. 

juvenile Ruff
Conditions for photography were pretty good since it had clouded over, and thus our southerly aspect wasn't hampered by looking into the sun, but it was still a bright day so I could keep the ISO fairly low. A Black-tailed Godwit was active in the water and in between feeding that too took part in a stretching session. Maybe it was Yoga for birds hour?

Black-tailed Godwit
Next up was a fine male Ruff which just stood in a tussock of grass eyeing us up imperiously from his safe haven. Not that we'd bother him anyway.

male Ruff
We were nearing the sea wall and the end of the ditch, and I was fearing the worst, since there had been no sign of the Wood Sandpiper up to then. Our luck was to be in though when I spotted it stood in the water right at the end of the watercourse before it turned away to the south. I fired off a couple of record shots and gingerly made my way nearer, not wanting to scare it off. 

Wood Sandpiper
We were now within around 10 metres of the bird and I was able to rest the camera on a fencepost for stability and get the frames that I wanted. The bird eyed us up for a few seconds then tucked its head into its back feathers and went asleep, well half asleep since it kept an eye on us.

Wood Sandpiper
After a few minutes the Wood Sandpiper awoke and, after staring back at us for a few seconds, made its way up the mud bank and strode off up the channel to the south. 

Wood Sandpiper
We gained the elevation of the sea wall but at 10 metres above the stream the views were now diminished so we left the Wood Sandpiper to it and relaxed into one of the seats provided. It was obviously a low tide since there was no sign of any water to the east despite the Wash being out there somewhere, about 2 miles away apparently! I scanned around and noticed some familiar elegant grey wading birds a short way away to the north. Confirming through the scope that they were indeed Spotted Redshanks, we made our way along the sea wall to close the distance between us and the birds. The problem with viewing from the bank is that you cut a very stark figure stood so clearly against the sky. Good fieldcraft entails that you approach birds from below the skyline but that just wasn't possible here so I tried to use an isolated bush to hide my advance. It didn't work though and after a couple of record shots all bar one of the  flock of 10 Spotshanks flew to the furthest side of the scrape. 

Spotted Redshanks with a Little Egret 
Spotted Redshank
Spotted Redshank in the centre and Black-tailed Godwits
The 9 Spotted Redshanks feeding
Spotted Redshank in front of 2 Common Redshanks and a Black-headed Gull
We sat on a bench that overlooked the reserve and found in turn Little Egrets, Common Redshanks, Avocets, Common Snipe and more Black-tailed Godwits and Ruff, as well as some Yellow Wagtails and the more common waterbirds. On arriving back at the ditch there was no sign of the Wood Sandpiper but a family of Avocets had settled in next to a small puddle on the largely dried up mud.

adult Avocet

juvenile Avocet
The Black-tailed Godwit was still present. The bill looked rather short for that species but the black tail revealed its true identity.

Black-tailed Godwit
The male and juvenile type Ruff were also still in the stream and I took a few more snapshots. The male had joined in with the Yoga session. I reckon Ruff are very handsome birds, actually I think all birds are handsome so it's wasn't getting any favouritism!

maleRuff above and juvenile Ruff below
A Common Sandpiper tootled quickly past and I tried in vain to get some good photos of the Sand Martins that were zooming around overhead. The Wood Sandpiper had disappeared so we regained the car and, after a quick chat with the warden, headed for home having had a very enjoyable day. We hadn't seen another birdwatcher in our couple of hours there, amazing considering how good this reserve is.

Sand Martin
As of the time of writing, the Wood Sandpiper has not been seen subsequently so, after dipping the one at Slimbridge the week before (see Slimbridge, 5th August), our persistence had paid off.

1 comment: