Saturday, February 03, 2018

πŸ“– 2018/Update #9 ~ WWT Slimbridge

🌧 6C Saturday 3rd February 2018 ~ A weekend in Gloucestershire with the good lady, staying at a local Premier Inn.

One of many Bewick Swans wintering at Slimbridge
Today was our annual February visit To WWT Slimbridge, not every birders favourite destination but for Dee and I a must, where else can you study the many species living here this close up that realistically you may never get the opportunity to see in the wild! Not just that, a good selection of hides to tour, offering a superb variety of wintering wildfowl, including the sadly declining Bewick Swan. In fact with the weather affecting the number of visitors today, we literally had one or two hides completely to ourselves!

A closer view of the large flock of White-fronted Geese
Another species visiting Slimbridge in reasonable numbers during the winter months are White-fronted Geese. One of my favourites, but again declining in numbers here, although not in any trouble, most preferring to winter in Holland, where the climate is a little warmer these days! We managed to get some reasonably close views of around 120 or so from the Kingfisher Hide. Barnacle Geese are here too in similar numbers, although I'm uncertain as to whether any of these birds originated from a wild population, today the flock was way off feeding out on the 'Dumbles'.

Smart looking drake Pintail
During this time of the year large parts of the reserve are deliberately flooded and from various hides there were excellent views of thousands of wildfowl, in particular Wigeon, Pintail and Pochard. So too waders with varying numbers of AvocetGolden Plover, Snipe, Ruff, Dunlin, Curlew, Lapwing and the odd Oystercatcher all noted, often put up by Marsh Harrier, two during our stay, along with a single Peregrine.

Crane at Slimbridge
Slimbridge is also most likely the easiest place in the UK to see wild Cranes. The birds that were released in the Somerset levels for the Great Crane Project frequently fly up the Severn Estuary and several have adopted Slimbridge as their permanent home, we managed five today.

The bitter sweet moment of the day occurred while visiting the In-Focus Optics shop, late in the afternoon! One of those occasions were you walk in, only to be told "You should have been here a few seconds earlier". This time a Glossy Ibis (reported Friday) had just flown over the reserve! However, we were duly rewarded by the sight of two Little Stint feeding with Dunlin out on the 'Rushy', right in front of the window, birds we'd been scanning for most of our stay! No further sign of the Glossy Ibis, despite a good search of the surrounding fields on the roads out of the reserve but despite dipping on this, another enjoyable visit.