Sutton Bridge

Raptors at Frampton Marsh 17/02/2019

Every bird watcher gets a thrill from seeing birds of prey doing what they do best, especially in their natural habitat. This is what drew us to RSPB Frampton Marsh on a cool February afternoon, and kept us enthralled until darkness fell.

There were 10 of us punters in the group, and we were spoiled by having no fewer than 4 RSPB guides, all with an eye for the prize and super-sharp scopes they were willing to share with us. Big boss John Badley couldn’t resist coming out with us, along with warden Toby and dad Keith Collett, and good chum and volunteer guide Les Ditchburn.

Between them, they made sure we missed nothing. In the 3 hours we were out, we watched a barn owl, a short-eared owl, male and female marsh harriers, peregrines, merlin, ringtail (female) hen harrier AND the highlight for most of us, the elusive ‘grey ghost’ male hen harrier! It wasn’t just a fly-by or glimpse, either. It cruised low over the saltmarsh at slow speed, like a spectre against the darkening sky, quartering backwards and forwards, oblivious of 14 delighted voyeurs gathered on the sea bank. Ahhh, what an experience!

Once the light had gone completely, we returned to the warm and welcoming visitor centre, which had been kept open especially for us. Hot drinks and snacks awaited us, and we had the chance to compare notes and revisit all we had seen. All of us, I think, will do it again at the next opportunity, but can we match the sightings and exhilaration of this first time? Maybe not, but we’re an optimistic bunch, and we'll give it a go!