Trip reports

Field Trip to WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre

Avocet wading in water

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Thirteen of us turned up at the Slimbridge Wetland Centre car park, with two members travelling from Daventry and another member from Stratford Upon Avon, for a most enjoyable day. There was light rain as we entered the wetland centre, however it soon brightened up and stayed bright but cold all day.

Our first stop was the Martin Smith Hide where we spotted european white-fronted geese which was one of our target birds. Also seen was barnacle geese, canada geese, greylag geese, curlew and widgeon.

A lucky few of us saw a water rail darting between reed clumps and had good views of a male and female pintail. The male's splendid plumage being very clear in the sunlight with its chocolate brown head and white breast and white neck strip.

We visited other hides as we moved on to the Holden Tower noting shoveller, pochard, cormorant and shelduck. From the Tower three cranes, with their long legs and necks, were seen feeding amongst the grazing sheep in the distance.

At the South Lake Discovery Hide we had lunch and did a spot of armchair birding. A large flock of lapwing provided a splendid sight as they flew in an undulating formation over the lake with the sunlight showing off their iridescent plumage, a golden plover also joining the flight.

Also noted was black-tailed godwit, black-headed gull, lesser black-backed and herring gull, mute swan and avocet with a spotted redshank tucked in amongst a group of redshank which was a good find.

After lunch we headed for the Zeiss Hide and adjacent hides, ruff were seen at the edge of the ponds with dunlin, snipe, a large flock of golden plover and more cranes. A little egret, grey heron, mallard and teal were also noted.

At the Kingfisher Hide a variety of woodland birds were busily feeding from the feeders, including great tit, blue tit and chaffinch with a great spotted woodpecker in the trees nearby with its white shoulder patches and distinctive red rump.

Other birds seen throughout the day included goldfinch, tufted duck, coot, moorhen, great crested grebe, robin, starling and pied wagtail. With a group total of fifty-three species.

To end the day, we stayed and watched thousands of birds being fed by the warden who also gave us a commentary. Amongst the variety of wildfowl, we saw our one solitary Berwick's swan. The rest of this species still on their long winter migration from the Russia tundra.

Viv Jenkins