Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Gib

 Sunday was our latest Bedford RSPB trip. This time to Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve in South Lincolnshire.
 On arrival, a quick nip into the North carpark, had us watching a group of 6 or 7 seven Crossbills that were feeding on the cones in the Pine trees. At least one stunning bright red male was seen before they all took off and out of sight.
 After parking up by the visitor centre, we took a walk down to the observatory, where there wasn't actually much to be seen other than a few Brent Geese, Shelduck and a young Common Seal that seemed to be stranded along one of the narrow creeks.
 Back at the visitor centre, we paused to look at the feeding station where a Great spotted Woodpecker and a Brambling stood out amongst the normal fare. From this vantage point we looked out over the grassland, where several Meadow Pipits, a male Stonechat and a flock of 18 Corn Buntings were seen.
 It was then up to Jacksons Marsh, where from the hide a good variety of ducks were on show, with Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted and Sheld. Also waders in the form of Curlew, Redshank, Avocet and Lapwing. The surrounding fields held a few Stock Doves and Pheasants, a lone Brent Goose and a good number of Hares.
 Tennyson Sands was fairly similar, with the addition of some Pintail, a female Goldeneye and a few Snipe.
  Next it was down to the beach, where the tide was well out, exposing the large sandbanks just offshore.
These temporary islands were covered in at least 40 Common seals, the majority of which were youngsters, with just a few mothers keeping an eye on them. A few Oystercatchers and Herring Gulls were also seen on these vast sand masses, while several Common Gulls and a drake Eider flew along the channel between them and the shore. On the shoreline itself were a single Grey Plover, 3 Ringed Plovers a few Redshank, Curlew and a Dunlin. There was also the freshly dead young Seal on the sand that the Gulls had started feasting upon. It's surprising how big these things are when you get up close.

 After a brief visit to the cafe we  set off towards home, but as a very high tide was forecast at 6 o'clock we called in at Frampton Marsh RSPB, to see what waders might have moved up onto the reserve.
 It wasn't quite the the spectacle we had hoped for, but around 50 Black-tailed Godwits, a dozen Ruff and 300 ish Knot were good to see. A Black Swan was a surprise here and a hunting and then perched Barn Owl was  a real treat on the walk back.

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