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YORKSHIRE WILD


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It's Ruff at Frampton

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Its 5.00am on Saturday 9th March, Phil will be here at around 6.00am and we will be off to Frampton 80 miles away and two hours in the car. We have high hopes, not just because we have seen great reports including Green Winged Teal and Long Billed Dowitcher, but because we always enjoy this massive reserve.

One hour and 45 minutes later we were there, we had sunshine all the way, bright skys and light wind, not the forecast we were led to believe. I was looking forward to walking too, not just birding, I absolutely need to clear my head of the strains of the last week and especially the last few days. I was hoping the walk would take my thoughts in a different direction.

The notice board on the small but perfectly formed visitor centre is informative and usually very up to date. Dowitcher we were told by a helpful chap had been seen this very morning, perfect. We set off walking around this site and the first thing we noticed was the temperature was falling and the wind increasing and increasing fast.

Black Tailed Godwits and Wigeon were everywhere, hundreds of Godwits and tens of thousands of Wigeon. Avocet was seen within a few minutes, about 40 in a clump. I was taking many photographs of the real treats on offer. We had superb close views of a Skylark and both of us got superb images. Ruff were sporadic but showing really well and again we had great views and I had great photographs for this very blog.

A huge flock of Brent were heading for us and with superb lighting I put my camera to my eye and in the viewfinder was a message “card error” and the saga begins 550+ shots lost the super fast cheap card I had just purchased was a fake a good fake but a fake and I had bought two of them. The dirty stinking *&$%£ b*+=2£! Had robbed me, not happy. I had proper cards back at the car but now quite long way away. Lesson learned!

We had several looks for the Dowitcher but to no avail and now it was time to get a coffee and arm my camera with some new cards that worked. So off to the visitor centre we went. Coffee in hand a group of loud and very confident chaps entered the centre all proclaiming their birding prowess and their knowledge of the warden and the site. Actually, they were just a little boisterous and happy to be alive. Where is the Dowitcher, one of them asked and the dutiful warden showed them on a map exactly where we had been looking, it’s there, he said, and it’s been seen again this morning.

Off they went at high speed, and shortly after so were we. We walked down to the area where we were told and there was the clump of joyous birders all excitedly pointing at the Dowitcher and exactly where we had looked 45 min earlier. We raised our bins and looked, we started taking many many photographs on my not so new cards. After a few minutes I was looking at the bird and thinking impure thoughts about its identity when Phil said “I thought Dowitchers had dark legs and were a bit browner” me too I said. Is this a Dowitcher Phil asked, but really knowing it was doubtful. No I said I don’t think it is! Then Phil said it’s a Spotted Redshank.

I walked back to the group of birders and asked are we sure this is a Dowitcher? And In very loud voices they all shouted “no” its a Spotted Redshank, It’s a good job we are not birders one of them screamed and everyone laughed.

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A couple of views across the reserve, Frampton is big skys and massive landscape.
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Above: three shots of the iconic Brent goose showing how different they can look in different lighting situations.
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Above: Avocet.
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Above: Lapwing. One of our most striking of birds, often overlooked and under reported. This is one of those birds you see virtually everywhere and often say "it's just a Lapwing" well, as you can see here they are magnificent birds.
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Above: Black Tailed Godwit.
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Female Mallard
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Male Mallard.
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Above: Pintail
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Above: Pochard
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Pochard doing what Pochard do. Sleeping or keeping an eye on you, then swimming away and showing you the back of their head.

The wind was becoming a real problem with gusts nearly having us off our feet, and if you saw the size of me you would understand how fast the wind would have to be! We started walking around the Sea embankment and every bird that passed us, mostly pipets were doing 220 MPH in the wind. Wigeon Wigeon everywhere, there was thousands, and Brent geese in large flocks.

We kept seeing Golden Plover flocks fly up near the visitor centre and they looked magnificent in the odd beam of sunshine. Big dramatic skys with big dramatic sounds from the wind had clawed all the thoughts from my mind and it felt cleansing.


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Above: Redshank.

Below: Ruff
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Below: Spotted Redshank
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Spotted Redshank are much rarer and much more difficult to find in the field, often misidentified and overlooked there are thought to be around 100 wintering and between 500 - 600 on passage. A beautiful elegant bird and a real head turner.
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