The 800 acre Ramsar site attracts a diverse range of birds that winter and summer there. There are ponds, fields, hedgerows and shoreline. Here the Skylark can be found on undisturbed grassland and during migration the Severn Estuary acts as a funnel attracting a myriad of species to Gloucestershire and the surrounding counties.
A full description of the site can be found at wwt.org.uk/slimbridge
To visit, the closest local airport is Bristol but both Heathrow or Gatwick 9 are only two hours away. The site is similar to Vancouver's Reifel but in addition has a captive bird area where one can see such rarities as the Redhead Duck, Smew and Chilean Flamingos. Outside of that enclosure are a variety of habitats that contain the wild birds such as the Avocet, Common Eurasian Crane and Little Egret.
As I arrived I quickly let behind the "exotics" and headed for the South lake where I found the Cranes that have now returned to the UK after 400 years of absence. A pair were nesting in the middle of the lake. A pair of Greylag Geese were defending their territory while three Shelduck rested on the mudflats. Three 'Lifers" in five minutes can't be bad but more was to come. A fellow birdwatcher pointed out a Sandpiper then an Oystercatcher.
|A Little Egret forages in the Slimbridge wetlands.|
|Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)|
The Little Egret can be found in estuaries on the English south and east coast
and winters in the Mediterranean. Recently the bird is spreading its range to the west coast of the U.K.
|Common Sandpiper (Tringa hypoleucos)|
This head-bobbing sandpiper, about the size of a Starling breeds in Europe, Asia, winters
in Africa and even Australia.
|Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)|
The Black-tailed Godwit uses Britain as a staging post on their spring and autumn migrations. They can often be seen with Knot and Oystercatchers. They nest and breed in northern Russian and Scandanavia.
|A Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna) being chased by a Crane.|
|The Tufted Duck (aytthya fuligula) is a common bird in the UK. Most birds winter south of their|
breeding range, some reaching as far north as Africa and Asia.
|Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)|
A Chiffchaff that nests by mid-April and stays in the UK until the autumn. Found throughout the UK and most of Europe.
|Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)|
A common summer visitor to the UK. The Cuckoo finds the Sedge Warbler one of the more accessible victims in the same manner as the Brown-headed Cowbird. It winters in marshy regions of tropical Africa.
|This Great Tit (Parus major) was feeding on seeds in the same reed bed as the warblers above.|
They are sometimes referred to as the 'gardeners friend" as they eat thousands of caterpillars and insects.
|Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)|
The Reed Bunting feeds mainly off marsh plants, including snail, beetles, caterpillars and insects.
|Green Finch (Carduelischloris)|
This beautiful bird is widespread in the UK except the Shetlands.