Friday, 24 August 2012

Frampton comes alive

Earlier in the week I went over to the RSPB reserve at Frampton Marsh, just outside Boston. It sits on the edge of fenland, with a saltmarsh on the far side of the sea wall, looking across The Wash to Norfolk.

The presence of good numbers and variety of waders was a reminder that autumn is already well advanced as far as birds are concerned - many of them were species that breed as far north as the Arctic, and are now making their way south to their wintering grounds via the enormous service station that is Britain.

There were at least three Wood Sandpipers around, three or four Spotted Redshanks, Curlew Sandpipers, Little Stints, Ruff, and around 3,000 Black-tailed Godwits.

I was searching through the latter for anything unusual when they suddenly rose into the air as one, usually the telltale sign that a Peregrine is around. Sure enough, one harried and hustled them as they flew, making short, tumbling dives to try to pick off stragglers, then climbing again slowly with an almost clumsy, 'treading water' motion of the wings. As soon as it had gained height, it allowed itself to stall, then flipped over to plunge back towards the godwits.

It wasn't successful, and I suspect it was doing it more in hope than in expectation - godwits are a decent size so you'd think a Peregrine would need a stoop of reasonable length in order to achieve the impact needed to kill one. This looked more like a bit of opportunism, hoping to separate a young or weak bird from the flock.

It's a great reserve, all things considered, and I'll look forward to going back in the near future. Another two or three weeks and who knows what will be passing through.

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