Friday, 15 February 2013

Tuesday, 12th February 2013: Slimbridge Wildfowl & Wetlands Centre (Leader: Phillip Delve).

 Bittern click photo to enlarge

On this visit, timed to take advantage of a 10.4 metre high tide and a less crowded weekday, eight members met at the Centre ready for the 10am start. On this cool morning, some of our party made use of the excellent facilities here, including a warm coffee shop, before setting out to see the vast flocks of wildfowl and wading birds pushed inland by the high tide.

Lapwing click photo to enlarge
Armed with binoculars and two telescopes, we began watching birds from the Holden Tower. From here we could see wildfowl feeding on the part flooded ground leading down to the Severn Estuary and spent some time comparing the subtle differences between three species of grey geese present. Nearby Greylag Geese and in the middle distance a flock of White-fronted Geese with their black striped bellies and white face blazes. Then on checking carefully through this flock we found a single Tundra Bean Goose subspecies Anser fabalis rossicus.

On our route towards the centre we used hides skirting Tack Piece, a flooded meadow inland of the sea wall where we saw large numbers of Lapwing, Golden plover, Dunlin, Bewick’s Swans, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Shoveler and Shelducks, among many other species. Three well-camouflaged Snipe sat close in front of the Martin Smith hide and once located, provided an opportunity to see them in detail. While watching small birds using feeders nearby some of our party saw a Bank Vole foraging for spilt seed.

We took lunch in a heated hide overlooking Rushy Penn while watching Bewick’s Swans and interesting behaviour of diving ducks, which seemed to be purposely swimming under the feeding swans.

After lunch we spent time along the South Finger hides most notably the Zeiss Hide, where we were lucky to see a Bittern creeping over flattened reeds; also seen from here a Water Rail feeding in a small pool close to the hide.

click photo to enlarge

Bank Vole
Water Rail 

Thanks to Phillip Delve for the report and to Paul Wilkins for the excellent photos

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