Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Slimbridge.... in November

Here is the promised Slimbridge blog, in lieu of anything more recent as I have been mainly staying in working. I have missed Red-necked and Black-necked Grebes AND a Smew at Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve - though they may still be there if they find an unfrozen corner I suppose. If we get a nice day this week I'll go down and have a look. Anyway. Here's Slimbridge, from November. We called in on our way home from a trip to Cornwall (a bit of a detour but not that much). Weather was horrid at first but got better.

It wasn't the best time of year to visit. Slimbridge is best known for its Bewick's Swans and White-fronted Geese but numbers of both peak later in the winter. There was a good mix of wildfowl around though, including plenty of Pintails. This one was among vast crowds of Pochards on what I think is called the Rushy Pen. There were also a few Bewick's here.

As we made our way to the wilder parts of the reserve, flocks of ducks and geese sped overhead, including Pintails, Wigeons and... Mallards. Note gloomy weather, don't be fooled by those scraps of blue sky.

The summer walkway was shut, but from the nearest hides there were large flocks of Wigeons on view. The sun came out briefly against a backdrop of stormy skies and something panicked the Wigeons into flight. We didn't see what had alarmed them but got some photos of the resultant chaos.

From the Kingfisher hide, there were no Kingfishers but nice close views of a feeding station, though there wasn't much actually feeding on it.

A female Chaffinch. demonstrating that the sun had come out again.

One of two Grey Squirrels that were monopolising the hanging feeders, and having little squeaky rows with each other.

On the way back to the visitor centre, we passed an exhibit of Cranes, some destined for reintroduction to the UK. I assume this guy knows what he's doing...

More sunshine, though the skies still looked ominous (and indeed it rained really hard most of the way home). Slimbridge, like most other WWT centres, has lots of captive birds like these Greater Flamingoes which no doubt help pull in the punters, and some of the birds are here as part of conservation projects. It's certainly a good place to learn your wildfowl. Wild wildfowl-wise, plenty to see - it's good for waders too when the tides are right. I would urge, beg and implore the people in charge to do something about the hides though - they are well sited but bench and window position/size makes them a real pain to use for those of us under 6ft tall.

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