Trip reports


Ian Parker

Saturday, 24 November 2018

The coach trip to Slimbridge left the rain behind for the party of 24 that included some new faces, one of whom was there because he had read our recent article in the Gazette. All are welcome.

On arrival the group divided to do whatever took their fancy - and there was lots to fancy ensuring all found things of real interest. Here are one person's recollections of a great day out.

"I spent all of my time visiting the hides along the path to the Holden Tower.

"The highlight was two water rails at the Willow hide, feeding in the area below the feeders. They were quite skittish, being very sensitive to the presence of feeding wood pigeons and a grey squirrel, both of which spoilt many photos.

"The rails were forever darting in and out of the grass and bushes just behind the feeders, and hardly stopped moving. Having said that, they were only 5-8 yards away, with plenty of opportunity of full frame shots.

"For a while a buzzard perched on a fence post 50 yards away, before dropping down the other side of the fence to reappear later - but with empty talons.

"The Rushy hide offered close-up views of a few lapwings, some Bewick swans and many, many pintails. It was not clear if the pintails were in fact resident, as they were relaxed and very close to the front of the hide and the people therein. So much so, that to take photos I had to back off from 400mm to 100-200mm!

"The Martin Smith hide offered good views of numerous teal and widgeon, but also a couple of snipe (and reportedly a jack snipe).

"Beyond the scrape and the fence line, apart from a solitary redshank, in the more distant fields there were also large numbers of lapwing, widgeon and shelduck.

"From the Holden tower nine cranes, including a couple of juveniles, could be seen in the distance scattered across the marsh. A local chap explained that there had been about three successful crane fledglings this year. Some of the other nests and younger chicks had apparently been predated (possibly by foxes).

"The same chap also revealed a 'closely guarded' photo he had taken some time ago of a crane standing in a water-filled scrape together with a fox, which the crane was attacking and/or chasing off!

"On the day, the 'wild' area I visited represents barely 10% of the accessible area."

What a great day out with so much more to see next time!