It has been a very busy day today here at RSPB Frampton Marsh. We have been joined by members of the Ogston bird club www.ogstonbirdclub.co.uk who have travelled on a bus from Derbyshire to spend a day at the reserve. Many local families were also persuaded out into the fresh air by the warm autumnal sun.
Over the weekend, the easterly winds have been helping some winter migrants move in from Europe. Yesterday afternoon two ring ouzels and thirty-odd bramblings were seen just north of the reserve. Later they were joined by 300+ redwings.
Today's highlights have included:
Dark-bellied brent geese 1600+
Marsh harrier 1
Grey plover 15
Green sandpiper 2
Little stint 1
Tree sparrow 21
Yesterday Graham, Jenny and I had the enviable task of maintaining the sand martin bank for next year. Over the past two summers our friendly migrant hirundines have excavated over 100 holes in the sand with the result that it was looking like a rather sorry Emmental cheese. The martins did seem to like to create new tunnels this year, rather than use those from the previous year, so we wanted to reface some of their nest bank. As the bank is over water this was the best time to do it becuase later in the winter the water level will be higher and we might struggle.
I could have sworn the contractors used sharp sand originally, so we turned up with ten 20kg bags. When we got close we realised it was smooth sand, oops! I do hope the martins don't mind their replacement sand having a few more bits in it! We're thinking of it as an experiment, so we re-faced two of the three 'seams' and left one as it was. Due to the different colours of sand when we had finished our Swiss cheese was now resembling a large Battenberg cake (OK you have to use your imagination just a little bit there!). Let's hope mr & mrs Martin like what they see in March 2011.
While we were sorting the bank we were lucky to hear a Pectoral Sandpiper fly over, this North American wading bird is quite an unusual visitor to these shores, but we've been fortunate enough to have had several at Frampton this year. Hopefully it landed somewhere on the Scrapes and will show itself off to visitors.
I headed out of the office this morning; keen to get some of my more routine tasks done. Aware that with all the management work that’s been going on recently, I have got rather behind with the mundane jobs. You never know what a walk round the site is going to bring, and I enjoy getting out and seeing what’s going on, on different areas of the reserve for myself. For example, I was able to see that the grass seed I planted a month ago, has established well under a bench to the rear of the reedbed.
I was pleased to find my morning filled with wader sightings, as after seeing a little stint with some dunlin from 360 hide, a visitor pointed out a green sandpiper outside reedbed hide. The large number of black-tailed godwit on site is also brilliant. Then in the bottom ditch of Roads Farm, a grey plover, before I met a couple who’d just found a curlew sandpiper at the bottom on Marsh Farm. Not a bad couple of hours considering I didn’t stop long anywhere.
Then a few minutes ago as I was typing up my health and safety checks notes, and chatting to Simon (Visitor and Publicity Officer) it became clear he was no longer thinking about what he was saying but looking out the window…there was a buzzard chasing a group of pigeons around!
So do come down to Frampton Marsh, you never know what you might spot.