Will Frampton Marsh rock the world of scrapes? I pondered this question as I sat through the rather dull indoors part of the reserve annual review and itching to get out and examine the wader potential of the scrapes in the field, especially as I had noticed the Wind of change had gone to the east. Located on the south-west corner of The Wash, the site certainly has the potential to pull waders. Hmmm Penny for your thoughts.
Regular readers will know I have ranted about scrapes before. Food abundance and availability are the key issue. These are, in turn, is affected by water regime, nutrient levels and predators. New wetlands are generally highly productive in the first few years of existence as early colonising invertebrates benefit from high nutrient levels and reach high abundance levels. Food! As time passes, nutrients become locked up in the system in mud and decomposing material and invertebrate predators increase as a more balanced system develops. Less food!
So the key is to dry out shallow water bodies to allow nutrients to be released to the system, to kill off predators and then to re-set the clock by allowing re-colonisation. But how often should this be done? Some ‘food’ invertebrates may peak in year 1, others up to years 4-5. The trouble is that birders then moan when a scrape is dry for a season and there are no birds. Many reserves fail to manage scrapes correctly for fear of a visitor backlash when they are dry, but then end up with a visitor backlash for having few birds. It’s a plain shame.
So, Frampton was designed with three scrapes adjacent to each other, all around seven hectares in extent. The two hides each overlook two scrapes. The aim is to rotationally manage the scrapes; drying at different times to maximise the potential for waders. Visitors will also see Something’s happening at all times.
Eventually we got out into the field, no doubt they saw the Lines on my face. I said ‘Show me the way’. The first scrape held a Black-necked Grebe and nine Little Gulls. A couple of Temminck’s Stints grovelled around an island on the next scrape, while the third had Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit and a number of broods of Avocet swishing for food in the shallow water. Baby, I love your way. The adjacent wet grassland scrapes held 100+ Dunlin and Ringed Plover, Curlew Sandpiper and Garganey. A bright future would seem set to Shine on Frampton. Do you feel like we do?