there were a few signs of Spring today at RSPB Frampton Marsh. The snow drops that have been peaking through in the office garden have started to show the first little sparkle of white, with the odd petal beginning to appear. Down on the reserve, hares have been seen boxing, lapwings have been displaying and some of the mallards have been pairing up.
If you were here at any part of the day, you will know that the temperature felt far from spring-like! It has been bitter. Most of today's visitors were still wearing their winter coats, including a stoat that was spotted. It was pure white, apart from the tip of it's tail that remained black. Stoats, particularly those further north, change from their usual red/brown colour to white so they are camoflged in the snow. After the occurance of this amazing phenomenon, they are known as ermine. It is very unusual to see a white ermine in this part of the UK. It really goes to show just how cold the recent winter has been.
Other interesting sightings were:
European white-fronted goose 18
Dark-bellied brent goose 250
Tufted duck 38
Scaup 2 (both female)
Little egret 1 (usually numerous, but hardly any seen all winter)
Marsh harrier 1 (female)
Hen harrier 1 (female)
Merlin 1 (female)
Peregrine 1 (female)
Golden plover 1200
Black-tailed godwit 43
Barn owl 1
Lapland bunting 3
I left most of the team to tackle the task of trying to install a camera in the barn owl box; this is situated opposite the Visitor Centre this morning. We are hoping it will be up and running for the spring.
I set off for a walk round all the trails and to all the hides, with a clipboard in hand. I was doing a QA (quality assurance checks), which either a member of staff or volunteer carries out each month to try to identify any emerging issues that could affect visitors’ experiences of the reserve here at Frampton Marsh. It also a nice opportunity to go round and spot any other odd jobs that need doing.
Plus, get in a bit of bird watching. And my first good sighting of the morning was a male hen harrier at the back of the reedbed which flew straight past me as it hunted along the bird seed mix we have planted at that far end of the reserve. A lovely start to the day, which continued with thousands of waders on the Scrapes, mostly golden plover and lapwing.
Then, as I headed along the path out of East hide, a sound caught my attention. Saltmarsh was my first thought, as I thought to the low tide saltmarsh passerine counts we have been carrying out. This sound was familiar from there, a Lapland bunting flying over my head between the wet grassland and scrapes.
Once on the seawall, I was able to see the hundreds of Brent geese grazing the saltmarsh, in addition to those that are on the wet grassland areas.
So despite the dizzle and overcast skies, I had an enjoyable walk. Plus, I came back with a few more jobs for my list!
It has been a very chilly day today at RSPB Frampton Marsh. The sky has remained clear all day, allowing amazing views of a beautiful sunset.
Sighting highlights have included:
Whooper swan 20
Bewick's swan 1
Dark-bellied brent goose 450
Tufted duck 30
Hen harrier 1 male
Sparrowhawk 1 male
Golden plover 2000
Lapland bunting 2