Saturday, February 25, 2012

Glorious Sunshine!

Ruff & Black-tailed Godwit
With the prospects of a beautiful days weather today Dee and I decided to take a picnic and spent the day at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trusts Slimbridge reserve in Gloucestershire.

A few fellow birders I speak to about these types of reserves are rather scathing in their comments (kids running around, families everywhere etc!) and I have to say that I do have mixed thoughts myself when I see birds bread in captivity with wings clipped, after all aren't birds meant to fly? But this is always put to one side when I actually think about the amazing job this organisation does. Captive breeding and release projects for endangered species for example, research, conservation the list goes on, not to mention the protection of some amazing habitats, so you can count me in. I love the idea of children getting to see and learn about our amazing wildlife, the younger they learn, the better for me!

Shelduck♀ & Yes, This Is A Wild One!
In fact from a personal perspective Slimbridge is an excellent place to go birding, offering some superb hides and some amazing diverse habitat. Not to mention the fact that it's a major wintering ground for thousands of Swans, Geese and Waders. Plus, you can have great fun with the camera.

The Zeiss Hide looks out towards the Severn Estuary along with some large pools and reed bed. A selection of Waders were on view with good flocks of Dunlin, which were constantly being harassed by no less than 2 Peregrine. Snipe, Ruff, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew and Redshank were also recorded. The surrounding pools held large numbers of Shelduck, plus 4 Bewick Swan, at least 200 Wigeon and various numbers of Gadwall, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Pintail and Teal, 2 Common Buzzard were also seen. From our vantage point at least 150 Barnacle Geese and around 200 or so European White-fronted Geese could be seen feeding on the Dumbles.

Red-crested Pochard (Captive)
The Hogarth Hide, which overlooks South Lake Scrape, is one hide that provides some excellent opportunities to get close ups of various Waders. It's also one of the quieter hides and so you can take a well earned break from the many visitors.

Finally, the Holden Tower provided much better views of the Dumbles and here we had great views of the Barnacle Geese, plus at least 1000 Wigeon and the 200 or so White-fronted Geese seen earlier. Also present were Great-crested Grebe on Long Ground Pool, several Skylark on the surrounding flats and around 50 or so Northern Shoveler. Unfortunately no sign of the recent Lesser Scaup but a really enjoyable day in the spring sunshine!