Stints and stilts

Two slightly distant Temminck’s stints today at Wells

At one point the path was obviously a little too close to a redshank nest (as at Burnham Overy the other day) but this time instead of flying around one of the redshanks just perched on a nearby fence and tried to stare me down!


One thing I noticed since my last walk here was the change of colour in the meadows. Brenda tells me it’s buttercups and ragged robin, and it provided a lovely backdrop for a grey heron.

Having left for Scotland mid-afternoon, but with a planned overnight stop near Bridlington, we broke this initial journey with an hour or so at Frampton Marsh RSPB reserve on the north edge of The Wash near Boston. There were lots of breeding avocets, greylag geese and black-headed gulls, but also a worrying number of dead gulls, presumably due to avian flu. I hope that tomorrow, when we visit Bempton Cliffs, the decline in seabird populations due to this bird pandemic will not be too obvious.

We spent a lovely few minutes watching a pair of mute swans with their young. The smallest youngster was riding on the back of one of its parents.

A mute swan with youngsters, and below I think the caption is; “Wheeee…..look at me! This is fun!”

I managed one new bird species at Frampton as I had not realised that they currently have breeding black-winged stilts. These unlikely looking birds are another of the southern European species that are gradually infiltrating the UK. I remember, many years ago, Sammy – a solitary stilt that resided (for several years) at Titchwell, but who never found a mate there. The situation is changing now and we are likely to see more of these delicate birds in the coming years.

black-winged stilt (photo taken 2011)

Brenda writes: “Last night I went out late to bring in the washing. Feeling something soft on a clothes peg I discovered a moth sitting on it. So reluctant was it to leave the peg that I put it in the moth pot, peg and all. Although it was actually a pale tussock I think I will now always refer to it as a peg moth.

The newly christened “peg moth”, better known as a pale tussock
pale tussock on a leaf with its distinctive feet out to the side and the front

This morning as I was out and about doing services, and later as we drove north, the grass verges yielded some more firsts for the year. Common toadflax has yellow flowers in a pyramid, almost always seen on the edge of the verge. Horse-radish has large leaves and a cluster of white flowers. Its root is used to make horseradish sauce. Viper’s bugloss, with its clump of bright blue flowers also likes road verges particularly in sandy places.

Today I also saw yarrow, the first of this season’s flowers, but it’s already on the list from January because if it stays mild the previous season’s flowers keep going into the winter. Today’s list was completed by creeping cinquefoil, which propagates by sending out fine runners, and has yellow flowers with five petals; and common water crowfoot growing in one of the pools at Frampton Marsh.

I was able to take a picture of hogweed today with some cow parsley in the background. Also an umbellifer, it has a stout stem with chunky leaves and closely packed flat flowerhead. Cow parsley has much more delicate stems, deeply cut leaves and smaller less dense flower heads.

hogweed with cow parsley

I love this reflective artwork at Frampton. Reflecting the landscape it makes you see it in a new way.

Reflective sculpture at Frampton Marsh RSPB reserve

New species for May 28th:
Birds: black-winged stilt
Moths: pale tussock
Flowers: common toadflax, horse-radish, viper’s bugloss, creeping cinquefoil, common water crowfoot