RSPB Frampton Marsh Lincolnshire An Exceptional Reserve With Exceptional Birds 10 October 2023

The Lesser Yellowlegs at RSPB Frampton Marsh, Lincolnshire - RSPB image.

Ahead of our next Birdwatching Trips Tour, to Norfolk, we headed east a few days early as a part two of Ruth’s birthday celebrations, carried over from September when we were crazy busy. The idea was to spend a relaxing couple of days on the North Norfolk coast, but news of rare birds had us altering our plans. A very rare Semi-palmated Sandpiper and a rare Lesser Yellowlegs – both North American waders, were being seen at RSPB Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire.

Lincolnshire is not that far off our route to Norfolk, so we set off from North Wales after breakfast and arrived at the reserve in time for lunch. The car park was just about full and lots of cars in the overflow parking area too, the power of rare birds. Luckily it is a very big reserve so folks could spread out and we even found a table in the great café easily – result. Even from the café we could enjoy birds with lots of Northern Lapwings, Ruff, Northern Pintail, Eurasian Wigeon and Teal. Lunch done we headed out in search of the rare waders. Reaching the “360” hide there were plenty of folks looking but nobody could see either the Semi-palmated Sandpiper or the Lesser Yellowlegs, not good. Some people said they had seen the sandpiper “earlier” but didn’t know where it went, not helpful! Listening to their conversations it was soon apparent that they did not know a great deal about wader identification – “it was easy to pick out, legs were different to a Dunlin” not how you identify this very tricky species!

Somewhat disappointed that the rare birds were not on show we kept scanning and carefully checking every wader we encountered. Lovely views of Little Stints, Curlew Sandpipers, Ruff, Golden Plover, Lapwings, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper – a wonderful selection if we hadn’t known there were two rarities out there somewhere. The great thing about RSPB Frampton Marsh is it is huge, the bad thing about Frampton Marsh is that it is huge! So much habitat and so many birds, a needle in a haystack to find two small lost American waders.

After a lot of hard scanning Ruth announced “Lesser Yellowlegs” at last one of the birds we had come to see! This elegant rather Redshank like wader with fine bill, long wings, and lovely yellow legs was feeding in wet grassland and not easy to pick out. Luckily, with patience every now and then the yellowlegs came to a gap in the grass and good views through the telescopes were enjoyed. Everyone in the hide were delighted to see this beautiful rarity.

Back to scanning through the flocks of Dunlin, birds kept coming and going, lifting off flying around and landing again, each time the pack reshuffled it was time to check each bird carefully. Finally, one wader with three Little Stints looked subtly different. Alan called Ruth to the scope for a look, just in case it flew, and then zoomed in for a hard look at the structure and plumage detail. The reserve warden, Toby, had posted photographs of the Semi-palmated Sandpiper on the internet and Alan had copied them onto his phone for reference and they proved very useful indeed. By watching this bird very carefully we could see it was just slightly larger than the Little Stints, colder plumages tones, a dark line on the forehead met the bill, pale forehead on Little Stint, a blunt end to the supercilium, pointed on Little Stint. Having noted all these features and compared the live bird with the photos very carefully we were confident to announce “Semi-palmated Sandpiper with three Little Stints” and everyone excitedly scanned to locate the rarity. Luckily the tiny sandpiper was reasonably close and stayed feeding close to the stints for comparison. Not long after locating the bird, Toby the finder, came into the hide leading a guided walk and he and his group all enjoyed the bird. Great to catch up with Toby and talk through the tricky ID of this great rarity.

If you haven’t been to RSPB Frampton Marsh yet do go, it is an amazing example of what the RSPB can do for birds and nature, oh and birdwatchers! We will be back there often on our tours.

We run our Birdwatching Trips throughout the year a mix of set departure tours and custom-made trips perfect for you! To book your custom tour or any of our set departure trips please email us here….

We can then make all the arrangements for your perfect Birdwatching Trips tour.

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