Trip reports

Field Trip reoort - Slimbridge

Field Trip reoort - Slimbridge

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Bexley Local Group RSPB

Visit to Slimbridge - Sunday 19 January 14

Sunny, cool and dry

Sometimes we can manage without bothering to think why things are the way they are.

With rain and flooding in the news every day we managed to pick a sunny day to travel to Gloucestershire, to the first reserve of the Wildfowl Trust ( now the WWT) and I didn't waste time thinking why it was sunny I just enjoyed brilliant views of thousands of birds.

Of course there are times when it is good to ask why? If someone identifies a bird for you it's good to ask "why?" because that's one of the ways in which we learn, and if you carry a bird guide then get it out and check that you can see why.

At this point I have to confess to leading some of our group astray with a dunlin that I had convinced myself was a little stint, and only when it was joined by three of its mates did I realize my mistake. We did get onto the stint, with the assistance of an obviously better birder, but it made me think hard. In my defense I do try to make sure that our group gets to see as many birds as possible, but that's no excuse for cutting corners.

A recurring problem during our visit was having too many birds to look at, but some definitely stood out from the crowd including the cranes which were seen flying, preening, feeding, and from the Holden Tower hide, "dancing" as a part of their courtship display. Golden plover flocks were huge, as were the lapwing flocks, and they both made an impressive site, on the ground and wheeling through the air, lit to perfection. It was also nice to have really close views of many wildfowl which are usually unapproachable, even if it was through the windows of the Peng observatory. These birds included the Bewick's swans that were a feature of Peter Scott's studies, and which visit in good numbers each winter. Out on the Severn big flocks of roosting birds included barnacle geese, but these were very distant views even with a telescope.

Common birds like greenfinch, goldfinch and great spotted woodpecker made a lovely sight on the feeders outside the Kingfisher hide, and close by at the Zeiss hide a water rail finished off our day in style thanks to Harry Halstead.

I am pretty sure all enjoyed their day and special thanks must go to our driver Len (L.S. Travel) who whisked us there and back through the traffic, in relaxed fashion, as usual.

A full list of birds seen: little grebe, great crested grebe, cormorant, grey heron, mute swan, bewick's swan, pink footed goose, white fronted goose, graylag goose, Canada goose, barnacle goose, brent goose, ruddy shelduck, shelduck, wigeon, gadwall, teal, mallard, pintail, shovelor, pochard, tufted duck, red breasted merganser, sparrowhawk, buzzard, peregrine, water rail, moorhen, coot, crane, avocet, golden plover, lapwing, little stint, dunlin, ruff, snipe, black tailed godwit, curlew, redshank, black headed gull, common gull, lesser black backed gull, herring gull, greater black backed gull, woodpigeon, collared dove, greater spotted woodpecker, skylark, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, blackbird, redwing, Cetti's warbler, chiffchaff, long tailed tit, blue tit, great tit, magpie, jackdaw, rook, carrion crow, starling, house sparrow, chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch, reed bunting

70 species