Tuesday 4th December.
Frampton Marsh RSPB + DCW.
In the chill of the east coast from 9.30 till 3.30 for a few very awful photos but memories of a bird-rich day into Lincolnshire that started with crisp blue skies and distant fog and which ended grey and dusky.
Twenty common species under our belt in the first twenty minutes then a Marsh Harrier followed by the faintest of 'pings' detected by Dave's radar, and a little later by me, was enough to add Bearded Tit.
Then we left the reed bed and strolled eastwards, where a meeting with a Leicestershire birdwatcher, who had enjoyed a Long-billed Dowitcher fly over his head earlier, made the decision to circumnavigate the reserve rather than head off along The Haven, much easier; neither of us had seen a Long-billed Dowitcher. (And at the end of the day we still hadn't).
It was a day with raptors the highlights as a Sparrowhawk was soon followed by a nimble Merlin performing figure of eights with sharp twists and turns above a number of unimpressed ducks before it flew away and landed on a post. Believe it or not this is a female Merlin perched on a post at Frampton about 1km from a compact camera:
In my experience, Frampton has more birds per square metre than any other place in Britain. (Camargue 1979 might win the European title - I'm not well travelled). Most were Wigeon.
During lunch, an adult male Hen Harrier drifted southwards over the saltmarsh and then a less rewarding walk back into the heart of the reserve provided a Peregrine harassing a juvenile Herring Gull which eventually did as the Peregine was suggesting, leaving the latter to its afternoon tea with a couple of Carrion Crows, like English vultures, in patient attendance.
A good day out with a tie for bird-of-the-day; Hen Harrier for me and Peregrine for Dave. Poor gymnastic Merlin deserved better.
A distant buzzard / harrier, if identifiable to species would have brought the day's raptor tally to seven.
The photographer in me declared a lone Meadow Pipit the star.