Saturday 29th January 2012 - Slimbridge WWT

Today I went with Mark ( down to the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust's Slimbridge reserve in Gloucestershire. Being a Wolves supporter I thought that he may have turned up in his horse and cart...lucky for me he came in his car and we were able to get down there at a reasonable time.

On arrival we meticulously checked out the Rushy Pen to look for the Lesser Scaup that has been present over recent weeks.  There was plenty of other birds of interest though with  good numbers of Bewick's Swan, Pintail, Shelduck, Pochard and Tufted Duck present here.

It was then on to the Martin Smith Hide to view across Tack Piece.  Here there were thousands of Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin and Wigeon.  Large numbers of Teal and more Bewick's Swans were observed here.  Small numbers of Redshank and Curlew were also noted.  At one point all the waders went up allowing us to see that wonderful golden sheen as the huge flock of Golden Plover twisted and turned over the Tack Piece.  There was no sign of the Lesser Scaup in this area either but we did pick up our first couple of White-fronted Geese that were feeding near some Greylag Geese.

From the Alf Garnett hide (sorry I mean Robbie Garnett hide...I can't help myself at times) I picked up on 2 Peregrines that were perched in the large trees opposite.  Ironically enough there were half a dozen Woodpigeon sat above them at the top of the tree...obviously oblivious to the danger below.

From the Holden Tower there were good numbers of White-fronted Geese and Barnacle Geese present on the Dumbles.  15 Great Black-backed Gulls were sat at the near edge of the estuary and a single Oystercatcher was noted near the tower.

Next stop was the Ziess hide, where after about 10 minutes we were lucky enough to see the Bittern.  Although not the best views of this cryptic plumaged heron I have ever seen it was a welcome sight all the same.  Also noted from this hide were 6 Black-tailed Godwits.

From the Zeiss Hide we headed over to the South Lake which was unusually quite in terms of Gulls with only c.60 Black-headed Gulls, 5 Herring Gulls and 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull present.  We did however add Shoveller, Gadwall and Cormorant to the day's tally.

Before we headed off home we spent some time back at the Rushy and the Martin Smith hides looking for the elusive Lesser Scaup...we drew a blank.  I had seen the one that was present last winter but it would have been a lifer for Mark, but this was the only slight disappointment in an otherwise 'away day'.

To give you an indication of the numbers of wader and wildfowl that were present, here
are some of the day's count from the Slimbridge WWT website

Bewick's Swan  196
White-fronted Goose  280
Wigeon  2000
Teal  950
Pintail  89
Pochard 223
Golden Plover  765
Lapwing  3100
Dunlin   2100
Black-tailed Godwit  37
Redshank  25

A view from the Rushy

Click on image to enlarge

Pintail (drake)

Click on image to enlarge

Golden Plover

Click on image to enlarge


Click on image to enlarge


  1. Great read,cracking place is slimbridge,even if ive only been there a couple of times.

  2. What a good day you had, Jason! I haven't been for a long time, I just wish it was a tad nearer as we don't like to leave our elderly, frail dog for too long.

    Oh, the hours I have spent hunting (and the Tufted Ducks I have tried turning into!!) Lesser Scaups on the occasions they have been present at Draycote.... but never managed it :-)

  3. You must have been in Rushy Pen, beautiful birds photos.

  4. Great day Jason, pity about the Scaup though. Only been to Slimbridge once, years ago. A bit too far from here for a quick visit unfortunately.

  5. What a day out, and what a great place slimbridge is! Excellent! :-)

  6. A splendid post about your day at Slimbridge Jason. I am making notes of your sightings as all being well I shall be at Slimbridge this Thursday.
    A great post and super images, glad you enjoyed a good day.

  7. It was indeed a super day, a chance to really enjoy some great birds

  8. Upminster Birder - Cheers. It is a good place at certain times of year. I only ususally vsit once or twice in the winter months

    Jan - I know how you feel with regards your dog. We've got an eldery rescue German Shepherd with a number of health problems. Fortunately my other half was at home today so she kept him company.

    Bob - We were indeed at the Rushy Pen for a while. Personally I think that they can keep your Bewicks and White fronted geese, its the drake Pintails that do it for me every day of the week!

    Phil - it was a good 'off patch' day and although we didnt see the Scaup we had some good birding all the same. Likewise re. the distance...I have never birded in the south day maybe!

    Warren - Cheers mate, it was agood day but it still wasnt a 'patch good day' ;-)

    Pam - Thank you. I hope you have a succesful visit on thursday. I look forward to reading about it on your blog

    Mark - It wasnt bad was it. I've had much worse days birding. I could do without the ornamental wader shore though