Sunday, 7 April 2013

A Touch of the Med!

I wanted to avoid using the phrase "spring is here," as firstly I suspect that it has become somewhat overused recently and secondly because the weather has been so unpredictable of late! When we met in the car park at Frampton at 7am today, the car thermometer was reading -3.5°C and there was frost on the ground, but without the biting easterlies it felt very pleasant indeed. By mid morning, it was (I hate to say it) positively spring-like! With the weather being somewhat improved, there was hope that the first migrants of the year might have arrived. There was a lovely Mediterranean Gull in full summer plumage on the islands in the reedbed, being hassled by a few of the hundreds of Black-headed Gulls that have decided to make Frampton their home this year.

Mediterranean Gull, Larus melanocephalus and Black-Head Gull, Croicocephlus ridibundus

Mediterranean Gull, Larus melanocephalus and Black-Head Gull, Croicocephlus ridibundus

Migrants were solely represented by this lovely pair of Little Ringed Plovers. In the last few weeks these tiny birds will have crossed the Sahara Desert, travelling from tropical Africa to their breeding grounds somewhere in Europe. Hopefully there are a pair or two aiming for Frampton as their final destination this year! This photo shows nicely the two key ID features to look for when separating these birds from the Closely related Ringed Plover; the bright yellow eye ring and all-black beak!

Little Ringed Plover, Charadrius dubius

Also around the reserve were a good selection of raptors; Merlin, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine and Marsh Harrier were all causing havoc among the waders and wildfowl. The Little Owl was in the dead stump by his usual hang-out, there was a record count of 120 Avocet, at least a dozen Ruff and a very smart Black Brant associating with the Brent Geese.

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