Friday, 14 May 2010

The T word

Spurred on mainly by the Drunkbirder’s gripping photos and account of the Oriental Pratincole showing down to a few millimetres earlier in the week, I took the momentous decision this morning to end my nine year twitching celibacy, and headed for Frampton Marsh. I’m not quite sure why – some sort of lame mid-life crisis perhaps. Or maybe I just fancied a day out somewhere different but not too far away, with a high probability of seeing a very rare bird. And I like pratincoles, despite the fact that they don’t seem to like me.

On arriving at the reserve I began to wonder whether this had been such a good idea after all – the car park was completely full, and I had to park on the verge outside the visitor centre. And this for a bird which had already been present for a week! Or maybe all RSPB reserves are like that these days – Titchwell certainly is. But at least (being the tight part-Scottish bastard that I am) I didn’t have to pay to park or buy a permit. And the bird was apparently still present, which was a relief given my long history of dipping on pratincoles.

As I entered the hide my doubts increased further – it was standing room only, and mostly dudes who didn’t have a clue what they were looking at (but again, this is more likely just the norm at RSPB reserves rather than an indictment of 21st century twitching). Eventually I managed to work my way to the front of the hide and quickly got onto the pratincole, which was flying around over the meadow at the back of the scrape. And that’s where it stayed, never coming anywhere near close enough to get even a record shot. But the scope views were perfectly adequate.

Also on view from the hide were a couple of summer plumaged Curlew Sandpipers and two 1st-summer Little Gulls, and a drake Garganey from the Reedbed hide. John had assured me that I couldn’t fail to get good views of the ‘quite tame’ Corn Buntings here as well, which sounded promising as I haven’t seen one for about ten years. However, I only saw two, one in flight and one perched on a bush about half a mile away.

But what a superb reserve Frampton Marsh is. Definitely worth a visit again when there are fewer people around. This panorama shows about a third of the reserve, and was taken from the sea wall behind the East hide (6 shots with the Sigma 150-500 on 150mm, ‘photomerged’ in Photoshop). The pratincole was somewhere to the left of this view (click for larger image):

I had further, slightly closer scope views of the bird from this bank, before heading back to the car for some lunch, accompanied by a ‘grandstand’ view of the visitor centre’s septic tank being emptied. That bloke's just taking the piss, I thought....

6 comments:

ray said...

How did that bloody Llama pay for those bins.... much higher up the pecking order thna mine.
I have managed to hold out on twitching for 3 years! And my UK list is therefore stuck solidly on 373.
I'm sure you have all seen the Seinfeld episode about being " King of the Castle." Suffice to say, it's about not doing something, but it isn't twitching.
If you get my drift.
Anyway, if you want to read something not quite as funny or interesting as the LeicesterLlama, try my lovely blog, mostlybirdingwithray.
This is an advert. Many other blogs are available.

The Leicester Llama said...

£550 secondhand in 1995, and still going strong!

beast said...

Me n Chris went over the other day to this fantastic reserve...saw the prat obviously...but weirdly enuff i 'got off' more on the ridiculously close views of corn bunting. Probably middle/old age crisis of sorts..! On track upto 360hide the bunting just sang itz bollox off only ten feet away...never had views like that before..ever.

Glad you had a good days twitch anyways..

ps...another prat i observed included one person who said i've got a summer plum curlew sand down here....and there it was in all itz glory...a male fuckin linnet..!

Still...at least it wasn't out of a cage...

The Drunkbirder said...

Shame you didn't get any photos Andy... mine are shite compared to Graham Catley's. Check his Pewit blog.

Beast - weren't the Corn Bunting cracking and by far my favourite images from the day. There was a cracking singing male at the junction of the East Hide path and Reedbed loop that was as tame as anything and perfectly lit. A quick count of singing birds I walked past in 500m was four... that's bloody good going.

beast said...

John...i just couldn't get over how confiding the corn buntings were. Goes to show that given close views of even the dullest species can still be a real 'turn-on'...

Fuckin love Frampton Marshes..there's something really cool about it. When we visited in winter for the laplands/snow bunts/twites etc...i couldn't get over the changes since 'monty-days'!
They've done a superb job on the place...

The Leicester Llama said...

I think it was probably a combination of being too windy and the wrong time of day for Corn Bunts to be singing when I was there yesterday. Never mind - they'll be there next time hopefully.

Re Linnet/Curlew Sand confusion - if you had been asked to name 50 species a Linnet might be mistaken for by a halfwit, I doubt if any waders would have made the list....