Trip reports

Slimbridge WWT

Sunday, 11 December 2016

After having to travel the scenic route to avoid a closure on the M6 we arrived at WWT Slimbridge at 10.45 to dry and fine weather. We spent the morning visiting the hides on the eastern side of the reserve, beginning in the Robbie Garnett Hide. The pool directly in front of the hide held various wildfowl including pintail, wigeon and teal. Grazing in the field behind were flocks of greylag and Canada geese and a large number of lapwing. Interspersed with the lapwing were a small number of dunlin, redshank and black-tailed godwit. There was a steady flow of Bewick's swans flying past the hide with one or two landing on the pool. Two common cranes were preening before being joined by several more small groups until there were 13 of these graceful birds in front of us. A distant honking alerted us to an incoming flock of geese which turned out to be white-fronted, the diagnostic dark banding on their belly showing nicely as they came in to land.
The feeders at the willow hide held house sparrow, great tit, blue tit and robin while a couple of brown rats mopped up the spillage on the ground below.
Next stop was the climb up the Holden Tower which affords distant views of the Severn Estuary. Closer to hand were a flock of barnacle geese and a few skylark could be seen feeding in the grass. Two snipe were spotted tucked up against a tussock of grass, having a snooze.
On our way back towards the visitor centre we stopped in at Rushy hide to look for the recently reported little stint - we soon located this tiny little wader and were pleased to see it was an adult bird. Other birds seen at this hide included shelduck, pochard and tufted duck.
After a stop in the café for lunch we headed through the collections of captive wildfowl towards the western side of the reserve. I always enjoy wandering through here as it gives you a really good chance to see species which would be great rarities if seen in the wild here and hone your ID skills. I also can never resist buying a bag of seed and feeding the ducks & geese (and the odd woodpigeon)!! A large flock of a couple of hundred redwing flew over our heads as we walked.
From the Zeiss hide I had a brief view of a Cetti's warbler in the reedbed but we didn't see any sign of the bittern which has been seen fairly regularly. Ruff were out on the grass and shoveler and gadwall were added to the day list.
As we walked alongside South Finger Reedbed a party of long-tailed tits moved through the hedgerow and from the Kingfisher Hide a few more small birds were on the feeders - chaffinch, coal tit and goldfinch.
In total 58 species were seen during the day and the weather stayed dry even if the morning sunshine gave way to cloud in the afternoon.