Thursday was a beautiful day in all ways. It began with getting a much appreciated life tick, the Penduline tit and continued with a trip to Slimbridge a WWT reserve. We live not too far from Welney another WWT site and visit there fairly regularly but rarely go to Slimbridge. A
It is a mixed reserve as it holds captive, non native birds as well as providing space for wild birds to thrive. We were only really interested in the wild birds and were soon out enjoying the Bewick swans and numerous other wildfowl which were showing beautifully in the sunshine. We had heard that there were two female Scaup and eventually found them. Of course they were as far across the pool as they could be and were hidden amongst lots of tufted ducks but that just adds to the challenge!
I love Pintails and was thrilled to see this pair so well, we later discovered there are over 1,000 there at the moment so I guess I hadn’t made much of a find!
Shell ducks and Shovelers were also plentiful and in the brightness of the day everything looked splendid. We met a couple that had earlier been at the Penduline tit site, they were arriving as we were leaving but they had not been as fortunate as us.
Like Welney, Slimbridge is know for the swans that visit during the winter. Seeing them flying was a regular occurrence and a beautiful sight, they are so graceful. Unlike Welney there were no Whoopers but a good number of Bewicks although we were told there were fare fewer than expected.
We were pleased to see a group of Barnacle geese grazing alongside Canada geese and Greenland White-fronts. As you may imagine we saw numerous waders including Lapwing, Golden plovers, Redshank, Dunlin but we didn’t see a Little Stint that had been seen a bit earlier.
We had visited every hide and nearly walked past a blind without noticing it. We thought we would peep through, not expecting much and knowing it would be hard to see as the sun was shining directly at it. We were rewarded with a super male Mandarin duck, they really are stunning. I reckon if you asked an imaginative child to create a duck they might come up with such a design but it is fantastic that they really exist! Then of course there was the usual smattering of more humble birds.
After a well earned cuppa we decided to stay and watch the swan feed. Although when the feed began there were only two Bewicks on the pool, the ducks took full advantage and they were gradually joined by more swans. We had a nice rainbow behind the pool just before the feed began, but unfortunately the sun chose this time to disappear.
Slimbridge got our seal of approval and we were pleased that Peter Scott’s father, Scott of the Antarctic, encouraged his wife to “Make him interested in natural history” in his last letter home and she obviously did a good job!
We had a really good day, beginning with a life tick and adding six year ticks too. I suspect we will be returning to Gloucestershire soon.