NEWS

Where I go birding: Toby Collett and the RSPB Frampton Marsh Reserve

August 07 2019

Where I go birding: Toby Collett and the RSPB Frampton Marsh Reserve
Where I go birding: Toby Collett and the RSPB Frampton Marsh Reserve
Where I go birding: Toby Collett and the RSPB Frampton Marsh Reserve
  • Where I go birding: Toby Collett and the RSPB Frampton Marsh Reserve
  • Where I go birding: Toby Collett and the RSPB Frampton Marsh Reserve
  • Where I go birding: Toby Collett and the RSPB Frampton Marsh Reserve
  • It is summer, the air is charged with anticipation, and filled with the faint aroma of freshly brewed coffee plus a North Sea breeze. From the open shutter, beams of golden light meander through the window frame to reveal a Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus) riding the offshore wind over swaying grasses and shallow water pools teaming with thousands of roosting Black-tailed Godwits (Limosa limosa). A broader scan of the pond and mudflats reveals shorebirds/waders of all shapes and sizes feeding furiously. At this time of year 25 different shorebird species is something to aim for.

    In any season throughout the year, the RSPB (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) Frampton Marsh Reserve attracts countless birds and birders. Small wonder, Frampton is a wetland complex at the edge of the largest bay in the UK (The Wash) and enjoys a sterling reputation for both its abundant birdlife as well as its management practices. With 100 bird species a realistic goal in a single day in spring or autumn, Frampton Marsh is a place to meet other birders, to parse difficult look-alike shorebirds, and to share thrilling discoveries.

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    Frampton Marsh Reserve

    Everyone feels welcome at Frampton, regardless of birding ability, which is key to the reserve’s success. It starts from the greeting that all visitors receive from the team of hardworking volunteers at the visitor center and extends to the overall positive impression imparted, regardless of whether someone stays for an hour or an entire day. “That a bird someone is watching is ‘my first’ or ‘I’ve finally seen one after looking for years,’ are the best things to hear,” says Toby Collett, an ecologist and warden at RSPB Frampton Marsh. “To be able to create these memories and ensure Frampton has a special place in a birder’s heart is a real treat for us.”

     

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    Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa) flock on ground (Neil Smith)

    Frampton is one of the most accessible reserves I know and we have worked hard to make it so,” says Collett. “Secretly, however, we want to frustrate birders: When we write up the day’s sightings, we want them to leave knowing they haven’t seen everything yet, and that they need to come back again soon.” This ploy may have some traction as there has been an increase of 5,000 visitors per year over the last two years. This sees the reserve sitting at just under 60,000 as the visitor center enters its 10th year.

     

    Toby Collett is an ecologist & warden at RSPB Frampton Marsh in addition to being a lifetime birder and naturalist. He enjoys nothing more than facilitating the enjoyment of birds for others.

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