Frampton Marsh transforms into winter wildlife wonderland

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Frampton Marsh transforms into winter wildlife wonderland

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Author: Chris Andrews, RSPB Frampton Marsh



Picture Credit: Andy Hay

In the days of Alfred the Great, the coast of Lincolnshire was the landing ground for roving parties from the North. They came to these shores looking for easy pickings, or a way to escape the harsh conditions in Scandinavia. Well, it is still happening today, but instead of boat loads of bearded Vikings, thankfully we are just talking birds!

Nowadays we look forward to our influx of Scandinavian visitors. In fact, at this time of year Frampton Marsh begins to transform into a real wildlife wonderland.

Thanks to our location right on the edge of The Wash, the annual influx of ducks, geese and waders in the colder months is truly something to behold. Having bred in places such as the Baltic, Scandinavia and Siberia, huge flocks of birds move southwards, ahead of harsher weather, to spend the winter on British shores. Imagine the spectacular sight of tens of thousands of birds, crowding the skies and filling the air with their cries.

They are particularly attracted to places like Frampton Marsh thanks to the hard work of our staff and volunteers, who have created the perfect conditions for a wide variety of birds to spend a sheltered, food filled winter. A patchwork of saltmarsh, open water, reedy pools and splashy fields cater for the needs of a fascinating range of feathered visitors. Small ducks such as teals, with their striking red and green head pattern, have begun to dabble at the edges of pools in their hundreds; wigeons are grazing on grass in their thousands, whistling to one another as they go; elegant pintail ducks are busy plucking weed from the bottom of our deeper pools; and brent geese, small dark geese whose name means ‘burnt’, burp their way across saltmarsh, grazing on the specialised grass that grows there. Still more birds, such as the elegant whooper swans, feed on nearby fields during the day and fly in to the reserve to sleep in the security of our pools at night. To add a bit of confetti to our wild bird spectacle, we are also the to go-to spot for huge clouds of waders such as golden plover and lapwing, who provide an incredible display as they move through the skies above the site like airborne shoals of fish.

Picture Credit: Andy Hay

Of course, all of this doesn’t happen by chance. Frampton Marsh is a shining example of what can be done by dedicated people with a passion for wildlife and an eye to the future. The reserve’s wardens and volunteers pride themselves on pioneering new ways of improving the land for wildlife. One of the driving principles at Frampton is that of ‘dynamic management’ or, in other words, changing everything around. Rather than having bits of the site that are always wet or always dry, the wardens keep the site in a constant state of flux, which suits the wildlife down to the ground.

Frampton is fast becoming a top attraction for those looking to see some superb winter wildlife so as birdlife moves south this winter, why not pencil in a trip north?

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