Howdy folks! Welcome back to the Frampton Marsh recent sightings. With me, Chris the visitor guy.

Bad news to start with. I'm afraid it loooks like our long-staying long-billed dowitcher has finally done a bunk. No sign since 1 May. But we had them for 251 days, and it was seen by hundreds if not thousands of people, so we can't complain really.

In absence of the dowitcher, what has been about? Cue the maps...

The garganeys down by the seabank car park have been giving some seriously good views. Down to a few feet at times. The fen area on the fields opposite to the visitor centre has also been a hive of activity.

Whinchats were a lucky spot for a couple of people. Maybe two, could be just the one moving about the site. In fact there was a lot of movement in general, with things popping up here there and everywhere.

And that is another full sightings board, including the first interesting plane of the year. 

Short-eared owl and knot on Tuesday gave a taste of the winter months. There are still a few hundred brent geese about too.

The weather on Wednesday was too damp to use the outside sightings board. So here is a two-part affair using the inside board

A few tardy pink-footed geese about too. But back to the summer with a lovely group of black terns, hawking around over the reedbed and giving fantastic views from the reedbed hide.

Another full board on Saturday, the red circle marks the position of a particular bench which is giving some of the best views on the reserve. Positioned in the hedgerow it looks out over the fen area where the ruff are lekking. Being in the hedge it can also be surrounded by birdsong, including a very loud Cetti's warbler which sings from very close to the seat.

Three black terns were back again on the Friday, again flying around over the reedbed.

Right, those are the sightings, how about the photos?

One of the most prevalent birds on the reserve at the moment are the black-headed gulls. Raucously claiming and defending their nesting sites. Here Mark Johnson has a great photo of one. Mark also comes up trumps with this brown hare, which looks a bit shocked to be a photographer's subject.

Regular  expert photographer Neil Smith gives us this wonderful shot of a full plummaged great crested grebe.

And Jeremy Eyeons, another regular contributor have five great photos for us. Turtle doves, singing blue tit and whitethroat and a drake garganey

With so much great suff about, I would again like to remind you about our FREE birdwatcher's competition running through May. 

May is possibly the best birdwatching month of the year, and may places do a 'big day' competition of trying to spot the most birds in a particular day. Well, we'd like to do something similar, but subtly different. After all, what if it is raining, or you have other commitments on the chosen day. So, instead we are going to have the May Day Challenge. See how many species you can see in a day, in May. No restriction on which day, and you can try as many times as you like. There are a few basic rules of course:

  1. Full species only, according to the BOU British list
  2. Birds should be seen whilst stood in the wider Frampton Marsh reserve area (ie the RSPB reserve, and the path down to the river mouth)
  3. Birds should be seen only whilst stood in areas accessible to the public
  4. Rarities must be confirmed via photographic evidence or by an independent observer (ie not your mate Fred), and reported to reserve staff (either in the centre, or through Twitter)

Day lists (and photographic evidence) can be sent to lincolnshirewashreserves@rspb.org.uk and it would be great if you can submit them as you go along. That way we can have a running leader board. At the end of May we will reveal which was the biggest list and award the prize, on which no expense has been spent. So what are you waiting for, get cracking!

Just the one entry so far, and that only a morning's worth. So far 82 is the benchmark to beat! 100+ should easily be possible.

If you would like to improve your birdwatching skills, may I recommend the course we are running next weekend on birdsong identification. Tickets are available on our Eventbrite page.

If you like the reserve, and shop at Lincolnshire Co-op, you can help by voting for us to be their winter Community Champion. You can vote at: http://lincs.coop/0gmMZ

So there you have it! If you are coming to visit us, you can keep up to date with the sightings by following our Twitter account. No need to have an account yourself, we make it so everyone can see it. If you do tweet yourself, please remember to use #RSPBframpton so we can see what you are posting, and also ideally mention @RSPBNorfolkLinc. If you have any good photos (or video, or even artwork) we'd love to see that too. Tweet it, or share it on our Facebook page or our Flickr account. It may also be useful for you to know the weather and tide times for the site, which may well have an impact on what is showing. 

All the best, take care, and I will catch you next time!

Chris

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