The Trip to Slimbridge

So disappointed that I was unable to go for various reasons but I was looking forward to hearing all about it and typing up a list of species seen.

However, I have been told that a full report and list was not possible because everyone divided up and explored what is quite a large area so each person would see and remember different things which set me thinking... How about if everyone wrote a short paragraph or even a sentence to describe the best thing or things they saw.

North American River Otters (DG) 

First in was Dave Groves with a rather short list of mammals (well, those creatures with feathers were in the majority). Brown rat, Mole and some North American River Otters which he was able to photograph.

North American River Otter (DG) 

This is from Mary Atkinson:

"The highlight of the Slimbridge trip for me, since we hadn’t taken the ‘scope to do justice to the big flocks of wildfowl and waders  seen from the various hides looking out towards the Severn, were the collections of wildfowl in the pens. Although really a zoo, which isn’t my cup of tea, I couldn’t help being seduced by their glorious plumage. And it was good to see close up views of species we see occasionally in Britain, like Goldeneye, Smew and Scaup. When looking for Scaup among Tufties bobbing about on Dozmary Pool, with an icy wind bringing tears to the eyes, I can never be sure of what I’m looking at. It was made easy to learn their definitive markings at Slimbridge."  (Bewick Swan photo below by Mary A)

Bewick Swan (MA)

 

Irene commented: "We met in the warm Peng Observatory, with it’s panoramic windows and subdued lighting, to witness hundreds and hundreds of wild waterfowl being fed as they are at 4pm every day. The keeper gave a commentary as he scattered great scoops of food from the wheelbarrow to the birds. The newly arrived Whooper swans kept their distance as the keeper proceeded around the water’s edge, but they didn’t fly away as he thought they might.  It was interesting to see the Mute, Hooper and Bewick swans in such close proximity to each other, certainly not your everyday sighting."

   

Gill writes:  "A fascinating day. Particularly interested in the talk on re-introduction of cranes to Britain; I had no idea we have towns/villages named after these huge birds because of their importance to the then local human population.  Impressed by the total lack of litter considering how many families were visiting. Only heard one negative comment whilst in the ‘hot house’ admiring a handsome frog – small boy was disappointed because there were no crocodiles!" (Photos from Gill are the Crane below left & the frog at the end.)

Crane (GN)

 

 

   And from Sue:  "I was overwhelmed with the number of birds that we saw - had expected to be gazing across mudflats at distant flocks of waterfowl and waders, but although there was plenty of that, there were great numbers to be seen really close to the hides.  The highlight for me was seeing a flight of wild crane coming in over the estuary and landing in the meadows.  Their haunting calls were quite musical compared with the geese and swans.  

They did not come close enough for a decent photo, but I have enclosed one anyway as it was so exciting to see them."

Avocets (SM) Pintail (SM) 

 

Lapwing (SM) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alison says: "I had a wonderful day and was so impressed with Slimbridge.  It was bigger and more accessible in terms of access to the birds than I had ever imagined.  I had no idea that so many birds worldwide were there and the variety of colours, patterns and sizes was awe inspiring.I did not take the camera as I had visions of lugging around a long lens and tripod, but in the event would only have needed a shorter lens as the birds were so obliging...next time.

The highlight for me was the sighting from one of the hides of  a Barn Owl hunting along the edge of a field, in which, at the same time, a Peregrine Falcon was plucking and then eating its prey (we suspect a gull of some sort).  How lucky we were to see both iconic species at the same time. To see Bewick and Whooper Swans together at the feeding lake just as dusk fell, with hundreds of other wild water birds was truly magical and something I shall remember for a long time."

 

 From Tony Atkinson:  "I was amazed at how much water and cover there is now. I was a member of the Severn Wildfowl Trust (as it was then) back in 1946, when the only water was the decoy pond, with some big Willow trees around it, and the Severn. So it was more or less all wide open landscapes then. I used to visit on several Sundays during the winter with one of the volunteer wardens to count the White-fronted Geese out on the saltings in front of the sea-wall, from an old pill-box that had been converted to a hide. The only building was Peter Scott's cottage."

From the Sloane Observation Tower (TA)

 

 I think everyone would like to thank Mary Groves for the idea in the first place and for dealing with the travelling arrangements.

And Irene Nash for booking the places and contacting everyone; all seemed well worth the subsidy for which we thank Brian's family. 

 

Frog in the hot house (GN)

 

 

Cranes in the distance (SM)

 

 

Brown Rat (DG) Brown rat, Dave G & exotic frog Gill N

Across the reserve to the Severn river (IN)    Shielduck (IN)

 Irene's photos ~ a view across to the river Severn and one of the many Shelducks