Saturday 14 October 2017

Slimbridge Wetlands UK

Slimbridge Wetland Centre Gloucestershire UK

This was my fifth or sixth visit to the  Slimbridge Wetland Centre 
The sanctuary is very similar albeit a much larger version of the Reifel Bird Migratory Bird Sanctuary in Delta BC. Both are close to large estuaries as well as large tracts of agricultural land. Both offer a haven for migratory birds. Not only is the birding superb the centre's gift shop houses one the largest selection of bird books anywhere on the planet.


My guide for the day was Birding Pal Alan Baxter from Gloucester. I met Alan at the entrance and although we had only previously exchanged e-mails we immediately hit it off, especially when he suggested to the attendant I was entitled to a seniors discount. Five pounds saved just like that! 

We wandered from hide to hide looking for our two target birds, the Ruff and a Spoonbill, both had been showing earlier in the week but like any birding weren't guaranteed. At the first pond we were rewarded with a pair of Black-tailed Godwits, a Common Snipe (Wilson's to us in N.America) and the elusive Ruff, a great start to the day but still no sign of the Spoonbills though.

A  long distance shot of a Black-tailed Godwit.
 Barwits can't be mixed in with the flock so a decent photo makes for certain ID.


One of the better sightings with my new Hummingbird Scope were two Dark-bellied Brent or Brant. Now if only I could attach my iPhone I would have time to study my finds on the computer when I got home.

This Egyptian Goose (wild) flew into the ponds surprising a few observers. Quite a common bird in the eastern part of the country, nor so much in the West.

One birder insisted the goose was tame, all the others disagreed, a pointless argument as it turned out, the bird wasn't tagged and thus deemed a wild bird. Alan and I left the others, we had more ground to cover and a lot of ground there was, one could easily spend the whole day at the centre.


(Northern) Lapwing.


Common Snipe (Gallinago Gallinago)

Finally we heard from other birders a pair of immature Spoonbills had landed in one of the ponds. We hurried over and the pair were already pruning, partially obscured by a flock of black-headed Gulls. The hide was jam packed with a small army of birders, it was a tight squeeze with all the tripod mounted scopes and cameras jostling for position. Suddenly something made the birds take flight and provided us the opportunity of a flight shot. There were high fives all around, mission accomplished and time for a well deserved coffee break.

I left Slimbridge without buying another bird book for which my long suffering wife will thank me a plenty. We headed for Frampton in search of a Yellow-legged Gull. Fortunately Alan knew his gulls but not before I sighted a gull that looked different from the others, Alan confirmed my suspicions and yes it was the yellow-legged, species #143 on my UK list.

It was the perfect way to spend the day following a week-long session of packing and cleaning in preparedness for Dad's move across country from Gloucestershire to Lincolnshire. Next week will be spent sifting through more than  sixty years of memories my parents had squirrelled away, I wonder what treasures i'll find*

* And treasures I did uncover. Every postcard I had sent from my world travels, every newspaper and magazine tear sheet I'd sent them, my old school report cards (cringe) from the Sixties and earlier, old photos I had never seen, a lifetime of memories. 
Six days from now i'll have another opportunity to bird so until them.

"It's never too late to start birding"

John Gordon
BC Canada

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing more cool adventures and photos from your trip. So nice to see that lapwing!