Visit to Frampton Marsh Sunday 17 March 2024

At 9.30 on a wet Sunday morning 8 members of the Cambridge RSPB local group arrived at Frampton Marsh for a day’s birding.    There were few cars in the car park probably due to the drizzly rain that was forecast to be around for some time.   This did not detract from a good day’s birding which started with excellent views, just a few yards away from car park, of the lesser yellowlegs that had been around for 181 days.   We were able to watch the bird for some time.   A peregrine falcon was sitting by the barns keeping a close eye on the flocks of ducks and waders which were enjoying the waterlogged ground.   Lapwings were noisily displaying and two great white egrets were seen and it looked as though one of them was seeing the other off.        

We had a hot drink and snack when the café opened before venturing out into the rain to visit the different areas of the reserve.   A heron was clearly seen flying and landing on a tree on one of the islands in front of the Visitor Centre.   We then made our way to the 360 hide and then on to the reedbed hide.  A good range of ducks was present and, over the day, we saw mallard, gadwell, teal, pochard, tufted duck, shelduck, shoveller, pintail, goldeneye and wigeon.     A great crested grebe was in the lagoon by the Visitor Centre.   We heard little grebe and cettis warbler but no sightings.   Large flocks of brent geese flew overhead and marsh harriers were much in evidence.    Dunlin were seen flying and feeding.  Common snipe were observed in various areas. Everywhere there was the constant noise of black headed gulls fighting for nesting territory and it was good to see at least 6 very smart Mediterranean gulls.   A large number of avocets were feeding in the lagoons.   Black tailed godwits and ruff were much in evidence.   The godwits’ summer plumage was starting to appear.   A lone turnstone was spotted.   A solitary whooper swan was in one of the lagoons but this one has an injured wing and has been around for a while.   Greenfinches were spotted on a fence near one of the hides.  

We left the hides as the rain was lessening and walking towards the bank path saw a reed bunting on the fence.    We spent some time looking over the saltmarsh.     A little egret was seen as were meadow pipits.   Starlings were flying around and the brent geese still very active.    A real treat was the sight of a merlin on a fence post on the salt marsh.   

As we made our way back towards the Visitor Centre, we spent some time looking to see if we could spot the green-winged teal but it was too far away across wet grassland.  One of our members saw it briefly when it flew but it went to ground in one of the ditches in the area.   The weather by this time was starting to improve so we went to a hot drink before spending some time enjoying the better weather and observing the birds become more active with the sun appearing.    A final look for the green-winged teal was fruitless but this did not detract from what proved to be a very successful and enjoyable day.   

Alex Andrews