Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Slimbridge WWT

We managed to fit in a visit to Slimbridge on Monday. This is a first time visit for us, passed it often but never had the time to stop, always on the way somewhere.

Anyway it was a dull day and didn't know what to expect really. I think we found the captive birds interesting, but probably just made us wish that we could go to their real homes and see them in the wild. It does get a bit confusing when there are so many of our own 'native' birds mixed up with them. Good never the less.

After getting our bearings we then made our way around the lakes then the hides. With regular coffee stops of course. 4 Flasks in my back pack today! 2 Coffee, 2 Hot Water.

We immediately got our first lifer. A Lesser Scaup amongst the Tufted ducks. I had seen from the Slimbridge web site that this was around but to see it in the first 5 minutes was a big bonus.

We started at the South Lake Observatory, worked around to Peng then up as far as Holden Tower stopping in all the hides along the way. By far the best for us on the day was the Martin Smith hide. From there we saw all the different Geese (I'll do a full list at the end). Plus we have never seen so many Wigeon and Pintail in one go magnificent. Then the highlights of the day for us. Right in front of the hide I spotted a Snipe busily foraging amongst the short reeds. Although we have seen Snipe before they have been pretty sedentary. This was one was very active and came out in the open a fair bit, plus the weather brightened up, so we had great close views of his fantastic colouring. Then a second one popped out. This was however trumped by our first ever Water Rail, (I know it's taken a long time, we have been to so many places and waited and waited for a Water Rail sighting and it's never happened, today I hadn't given it any thought and it just popped out!) who came bounding (if a Water rail can bound) out of one set of reeds, to run out in the open across  the mud into another bunch of reeds. We only had a 20 second sighting, but it was out in the open and very close. It did pop its head out again for a few minutes but never came out fully again.

So we then did the rounds, over to the other hides (Zeiss, Kingfisher etc,) Then made our way back via Hogarth Hide for chucking out time. Hogarth hide was very good we picked up Redshank, Greenshank and Black Tailed Godwit, who all gave us a fine show.

So left the Centre at 5 and went back to the car, to have a cuppa with the last of our hot water. The Starlings then started to arrive, only about a thousand, but they gave us a great display and finished the day off well.

So our list for the day:

Barnacle Goose, Bewick's Swan, Blackbird, Black-headed Gull, Black-tailed Godwit, Blue Tit, Brent Goose, Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Coot, Cormorant, Curlew, Dunnock, Gadwall, Goldfinch, Great Black-backed Gull, Great Tit, Greenshank, Greylag Goose, House Sparrow, Jackdaw, Lapwing, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Lesser Scaup, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pintail, Pochard, Red-breasted Merganser, Redshank, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Rook, Shelduck, Shoveler, Snipe, Song Thrush, Starling, Teal, Tufted Duck, Water Rail, White-fronted Goose, Wigeon, Woodpigeon and Wren.

So this takes us to over 100 species and 9 new species for the year so far.

I have added a few photos, I only had a 55mm lens with me so no close ups! (And it was dull, yet again!)
This Pintail came reasonably close:

And some captive birds:
Nene Geese:
 Black Necked Swan:


  1. Chuffed for you with the Water Rail! Slimbridge is always a good day out, glad you enjoyed your visit and also topped the day off seeing the Starlings come in to roost.

  2. Thanks Pam. Yes the Water Rail was the top spot of the day. The starlings were great as well, although I also never get tired of Godwits, I think they are a wonderful bird. Some of the ones that flew in were starting to get their summer plumage and turn that lovely golden colour. Wonderful!

    We have an evening family do on Sunday up in Cheshire, so we are thinking of going to Martin Mere for the afternoon. Depending on the weather and how early we get up!

  3. You did well seeing the Lesser Scaup so quickly. I visited Slimbridge a few weeks back with Mark (Doorstep birding) and the bird eluded us the whole time we were there. Luckily I had seen the Lesser Scaup that had been present the previous winter (which was a lifer back then)

    1. Yes was pleased about the Scaup. Having never seen one before this year, now have 3 sightings of different Scaup.

      Might be going to Martin Mere on Sunday, so fingers crossed for that. Then off to Italy skiing, have been doing some research and the mountains we are heading to appears to have a good range of Birds especially raptors, so fingers crossed , but only if they cross our paths as we hurtle down the slopes!