RECORD numbers of birdwatchers are flocking to RSBP Frampton Marsh Nature Reserve.
Annual visitor numbers have rocketed from about 10,000 to 40,000 over the last two years as the natural wetland habitat attracts a variety of rare birds.
“Since we reopened in April 2009 after developing the reserve, we have had around 75,000 visitors,” said reserve warden Graham Figg.
“Prior to that we rarely got more than 10,000 visitors a year. The last financial year we had 35,000 and this year we’ll have had more than 40,000.”
Staff at the marsh developed the site to provide new visitor facilities, including 3km of wheelchair-friendly footpaths and bird hides with 360-degree views.
They also recreated the natural habitat for birds, with spanses of wetlands, reedbeds and freshwater scrapes.
As The Standard reported last May, one unusual visitor was the Oriental Pratincole which should have been on its way to China but overshot its course by a staggering 4,500 miles.
This drew twitchers from Spain, Holland and France and around the UK to Frampton eager to get a glimpse of the rare bird.
Others more recently sighted have included buzzards, rare to the county, along with waders like the oystercatcher and the avocet, the latter was believed to have been extinct until 1946.
“For the first time, we’ve also had a huge number of wild hooper swans, which have been roosting and feeding just outside the visitors centre.” said Graham.
Asked why he thinks so many more visitors of the feathered and human variety have been flocking to the marsh, he added: “The reserve is in an exciting location with Frampton being right next to the Wash - the largest estuary in the UK.
“It is a good sheltered environment for a range of birds, and a great experience for visitors.”
RSBP Frampton Marsh has free entry and open all year round from 10am to 4pm.
l Information or to become a member call 01205 724678.