A cold but sunny sunday morning was the prediction of the weather guru's around the whole of the UK well most of it; so me and long time mate Steve went off to Frampton for look around. We met up with another photographer / birder mate called Oliver for a quick chat too - which was nice!
Birds were all over mainly in fields on the right of the track to the sea bank. Wigeons being in the ascendency with Redshank, Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Brent Geese, Dunlin also a small group of Whoopers landed too in the far corner.
Small groups of Lapwing and Wigeon passed over head as the sun broke through heading towards the area in front of the east hide. We got to the sea bank, had a few minutes and saw a couple of Little Egrets and a large group of Brent Geese, about 100 birds grazing. Walking back towards the turning to the hides and with the rising sun behind us we could appreciate the beauty of the place as it woke up. We stopped while walking back down the track and had a chat with a fellow birder on one of the gravel risers allowing visitors better views of the scrapes and soon saw a pair of Shoveller and two Redshanks pretty close in with one Redshank being of the Spotted variety, this was a lifer for Steve and only my 2nd view of this species!
I tried to get a comparison photo or two of the 2 Redshank species and only managed a couple with one of them being below.
The birds were getting more and more active in the air with lots of flyovers at different heights. I got the image below of what I thought was just Dunlin but upon closer inspection a few Ruff were in the group too.
Keeping our eyes open for Stonechat we soon understood with the wind being so cold, gusty and sharp why the male Stonechat we saw was making its way towards us on the track at ground level - keeping itself out of the wind - not daft these birds are they?
We had a few minutes with the Stonechat, it kept low and soon was lost from sight in the bottom of the reeds. When walking back along the track as we all do I am sure scanning of the posts in the fields now to the left of the track heading in the direction of the visitor centre I said to Steve "what's that on the post left of that gate?" my bins were at this time in my pocket and it was easier for Steve to put his that were having around his neck to his eyes, "Merlin - I think?" came the reply.
We made our way steadily, stopping along the way to get a few photos in case the bird flew and we got as close to a Merlin as we dare and had been before and managed a very pleasing shot of one of the stars of this great reserve. This was another lifer for Steve too, so 2 lifers in about 10 minutes, "not a bad sunday morning out mate" I said to Steve.
Eventually the Merlin flew fast and low towards the scrapes in from of the east hide. Small groups of Brent Geese were then seen moving towards the sea bank / salt marsh area.
Then we heard the tell tale sound of another species of goose "Pink! Pink!" a look up and about 60 Pink Footed Geese headed east.
We got into the 360 hide hoping for a warm but in fact it seemed colder than being outside!
It was pretty quiet really during the time Steve and I were in this hide, a Meadow Pipit and Skylark foraged and when a Starling appeared in the same area to do the same a Lapwing came in and chased it off.
As time was limited we took the 1.2km distance walk back to the visitor centre after briefly scanning the water in front of the reedbed hide to see what was about, here we saw about 10 Pochard. A nice warm and hot drink later we went out again and walked the track to the sea bank one more time. Another nice Stonechat male was very active in the area of the turning to the hides, maybe he was wind assisted but he moved about with great haste!
We both managed a few pics of the bird before it flew off to the reeds wind assisted of course!
A little Egret flew over at this time too, it was looking to land in the reeds to the left of the reedbed hide. Several various sized groups of Whooper Swans were seen from time to time in the distance during the morning.
Then something, we never saw what; put up all the birds in the fields and the birds filled the blue sky for the next 10 to 15 minutes circling all the time until they once again settled to feed once more, what a sight it is to witness too!
Well that was it for us and we drove home, within 5 minutes of saying goodbye to Steve a nervy Stock Dove landed in my garden as the Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Lesser Redpolls were feeding to cap off a great few hours birding. Not the best image I have ever had of a Stock Dove as it was taken through double glazing.