Thursday, 28 July 2016

Close but not close enough

I only need 5 more lifers to get to 350 in the UK, so chances when they crop up need to be taken. As we head into late July and early August there are normally opportunities to be had on the wader front. Over the last few days there have been some nice birds around, but that pesky work has got in the way. Today though I had the chance to take a day off. The only potential target left was a broad-billed sandpiper at Frampton Marsh, near Boston in the Fens. The plan was laid, the sandwiches and coffee made, the alarm clocks set for an early night. Then birdguides came up with "flew off at 3.40, no further sign by 19.30". Damn!!! Well, it might come back so worth a try.
I got to Frampton about 8, later than I wanted but the A1 was closed with an accident so I had to divert. Still, it was a nice not too hot day and only a short walk to the hide. This is a new RSPB reserve on the north edge of the Wash, mainly scrapes and reeds. Apparently only 6 or 7 years ago it was beet fields so it is still maturing and it looked quite nice. There were lots of birds around.

In the 360 hide (named for its all round view) were 4 other birders. No sign of the BBS! As I got there though someones phone went and their friend in another hide called in a white-rumped sandpiper. These are reasonably rare - I've had 4 before in the UK - and a good back up. We did a quick relocation to the other side of the reserve and the people in the hide had the bird on view. It was a long way off though. 

It is in this photo, just to the right and this side of the little ringed plover. Basically, they are small waders, between a dunlin and stint in size, with a bright white underside in flight. When they open their wings, they have a white rump!! You can hopefully in these photos see it's slim profile. It never came close and over the next 3 hours the heat haze started to build on the marsh and it became almost impossible to pick out, much to the chagrin of the birders arriving with the usual cry of "is it showing?"!!!!

As a supporting cast, there were lots of waders. Curlew sandpipers were another year tick for me. Dunlin made of most of the small waders.

The most numerous of the larger birds were the black-tailed godwits. I should think there were a few hundred of them in all, mostly loafing around but a few came close enough to see them mainly in their smart breeding plumage.

Once the flock lifted off and whirled over the marsh before settling back down again.

Other waders included ruff

common sandpipers, redshank, little ringed plover, greenshank and lapwings as well as some non wading birds such as this smart yellow wagtail and it's plainer pied cousin.

So, not a  bad day in all, and I topped it off with a cheeky little wood sandpiper at Gypsy Road on the way back, but a shame the BBS was a no show!! Still want to get to 350 through the Autumn though.