Howdy folks! And welcome back to the new look Frampton Marsh sightings blog. Still with me, Chris the Visitor Guy.

As I explained last week we have been having a bit of a think about how to get the blogs and also Twitter to work better. Rather than having lots of daily maps that all say the same thing, we will be moving towards a weekly map. Don't worry, anything particularly exciting will of course get tweeted out as a matter of course, with its very own map, just as it was before. In order to make sure those people who might be planning weekend trips get the best chance to decide what they want to do, this blog will be going out on Thursdays (or possibly some Wednesday evenings, depending on my work schedule). There will also be a vlog (video blog) posted on Twitter on Wednesdays, giving you the weekly round-up of the reserve.

So, that is the background of what we will be doing and why. Best get into the nitty gritty and have a look at what has been seen.

Stars of the show recently have been the black-necked grebes. Now definitely confirmed to have bred, as they are being seen with two chicks. All together, awwwww! This is marvelous news for us, the first breeding record for this species on the reserve. And the first time they are confirmed to have bred in Lincolnshire since 2015. Nationwide there are only in the order of 50 breeding pairs, so this is really quite significant. The grebes are currently favouring the southern corner of the reedbed (position 1), and can often be seen well either from the central viewing mound, or on the gravel mound between there and the visitor centre. At times they are even viewable from inside the centre. What do they look like? Check out these absolutely stonking photos by Paul McLelland.

Also on the reedbed, it is worth keeping an eye on the black-headed gulls and the ducks. If all the gulls go up in a tight mob over one spot, and the ducks are moving away from there, it might mean our two otters are out and about. They seem to favour the North side of the reedbed (position 2), although they have been seen to cross the path and go onto the scrapes. That end of the reedbed is also where two wood sandpipers were seen in the week.

Over by East hide (position 3) seems to be a good spot for little gulls. A couple have been loitering there most days. As this photo by residential volunteer Toby Carter shows, they are youngish birds, without the full black heads. They can picked out from all the other gulls by their small size and dipping tern-like flight.

Further into the wet grassland behind the scrapes, position 4 on the map, this is a favoured spot for spoonbills. Up to six have been dropping in here early in the morning, though sometimes they go onto the reedbed too. Often they leave mid-morning, before returning again in the evening. This photo of two of them is by Jeremy Eyeons.

Moving further south, to the grassland on the other side of the seabank car park, position 5, this area is proving to be good for spotted redshanks. Some of which are looking very smart in their full spotted summer plumage. Up to a dozen have been seen. A kingfisher was seen in the area on Saturday too.

Dropping down to the southernmost corner of the reserve, position 6, there have been a lot of waders in the pools in this corner. Though they can be very flighty, meaning you have to look in from a distance or take great care when approaching. Coming in down the Cross Bank (ie the southern border) rather than via the sea bank might be advisable, as you will not be silhouetted against the sky and so might be able to sneak up. Among the dunlins, godwits, avocets and redshanks in this area there has been a curlew sandpiper or two. Plus a Temminck's stint on Saturday. Here we have a photo of a black-tailed godwit in breeding colours, by John Mann. And a dunlin by Jeremy Eyeons.

Over the other side of the seabank on the saltmarsh, whimbrel have been present in small parties. Most often seen close to where the path from the old car park goes up onto the bank (position 7). Further south, where the sea bank sticks out a little way (position 8, sometimes known as 'raptor point') a couple of short-eared owls have been hunting. Best looked for in the evenings or early mornings, particularly when it coincides with a high tide.

Continuing our clockwise tour around the reserve, at the reservoir (position 9) and in the wet fields to the East of it, there have been plenty of green sandpipers. Over 20 have been counted in a single day. At least one greenshank can also be found in this locale.

Whilst we still advise that the most regular place to see turtle doves from is the watchpoint next to the reservoir, it is also worth having a bit of a look at the hedgerow next to the main car park as you get out of your car (position 11). A couple of turtle doves have been purring on and off from this area. There is also a very vocal Cetti's warbler in this spot too.

Returning to the visitor centre (position 10), the feeders have been attracting a few tree sparrows, plus Banksy the bank vole has popped out once or twice to pick up fallen seed. A water rail can be a lucky spot as it dashes from cover to cover.

Finally, spot of the week was last Friday night. Whilst sat at the visitor centre in the evening watching snipe drum over the fields by the car park, Toby Carter spotted a squacco heron flying over us! It headed towards the sea bank, and was later picked up again tucked in against the seabank near position 6. It did not stay there long though, and was lost as it flew off again. Luckily on Saturday it was refound on the wet grassland at Freiston Shore, where happy birders got some very nice views. This was bird species 273 for the reserves. Alas, it did not hang about and was gone again by Sunday. But not before Dave Roberts captured this photo.

Where are all these positions I keep mentioning? Here is a simple map to help you.

You may also like to watch this short video, featuring Toby Carter, as another explanation of where to look for various species.

If you would like to go on a gentle tour of the reserve with a guide to point things out to you, we have a Summer Stroll this Sunday afternoon, 2 - 4 pm. Places cost £6, with 20% off for RSPB members.

As well as everything mentioned above, you may be lucky enough to see brown hares (photo by Tony Martin)

Common terns... (photo by Jeremy Eyeons)

And if you check ragwort plants, there will probably be some cinnabar moth caterpillars munching away (photo by Jeremy Eyeons)

So there you have it! This has been the new look sightings blog. What did you think about it? All constructive comments and feedback are welcome. Drop us an email to lincolnshirewashreserves@rspb.org.uk or leave a comment here on the blog.

As a reminder, we will continue to post news of rare sightings to our 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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