Monday, 20 September 2010

A day at Slimbridge WWT

A couple of weekends ago I went with two of my birding friends to Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust . This reserve lies on the banks of the River Severn about 90 minutes north of Frome. For more information on the reserve you can click on the link. To be honest, it's not somewhere I go to often. It's not cheap to get in and also most of what is there are collections of wildfowl from around the world, interesting but not wild.
There are parts of the reserve that are set up for watching wild birds though and there happened to be two or three good year ticks here. This (below) is the view from the Zeiss hide. If you click to enlarge this photo, you will see more clearly the River Severn in the background and beyond that, Wales. From here we watched an energetic Red necked Phalarope, spinning and twisting after food on the water (when are they ever not energetic!) (-: This is a bird that I certainly don't get to see every year, so was a real treat. We also picked up Curlew Sandpipers, Spotted Redshanks and Little Stints, all good yearbird waders (shorebirds).
It's hard to walk around Slimbridge and not take the opportunity for photos of exotic birds! Flamingos are certainly birds that I'm not going to see anytime soon away from Slimbridge!
They're amazing looking birds. It would be great to see them in their natural habitat sometime!
On the other hand, Common Crane is a bird that I can get to see in Britain, usually in just one area of Norfolk on the eastern side of Britain. At present, Slimbridge are in the process of rearing young Common Cranes with a view to releasing them into the wild somewhere on the Somerset Levels, which is an exciting prospect as that is very local to me!
I took these photos through a wired fence into the rearing compound and unfortunately never got a good shot of the whole bird.
My mind was mostly on birds on this day, but I did notice someone else taking a photo of this clump of fungi. It looks like some sort of Fairy city to me! (-:
Here are some more of the exotic wildfowl in the collection here. This is a very pretty female Mandarin Duck. They have successfully maintained a feral population in Britain and I've actually seen them on the River Churn at the bottom of my Mum's garden in the Cotwolds.
I took this photo just a little too late. These three ducks (not sure what type they are) were all upright and alert and looked just like the duck equivalent of Meerkats! The one of the left just started to move at I took my shot which is a shame.
I should've been more attentive as to names for some of these wildfowl, so I don't know what this goose is called (white headed something or other), but I liked they way it kept straining up to reach this twig. Not sure what it was after!
They also have a compound with Otters here. These photos were taken behind glass or perspex so arn't entirely sharp. It was lovely to have the opportunity to watch these beautiful creatures up close as they twisted and writhed in the water after a giant cube of frozen fish was chucked in there for their lunch.

This Moorhen is a wild bird that has become pretty much used to close human activity so I was able to get reasonably close to take a couple of shots.
My favourite subject of the day though has to be this Moorhen chick. Look at the feet on this fluffball! It posed beautifully for me, first to the left....
.......have a preen.....

......preen the other side....
.......and face right. So sweet! Have a good life matey!
We had a good day here and it was well worth the entrance fee!


The Giraffe Head Tree said...

What a great place, Jens! Although not wild, still it's fascinating to see these wonderful creatures so closely. The Common Crane - what a face! Love your new header, too. Reminds me of our Sandhill Cranes, WHICH SHOULD BE HERE SOON, btw. Yay! I'm crazy about the clump of fungi - something out of Riven - and I think those male ducks were just showing off for the ladies. Ahem. That chick with THOSE FEET! SO funny and cute!!! Thanks for taking us along - how much do I owe for my share of the trip?

TonyC said...

Great post Jen. I can always rely on you to shake the memory tree!!
Wow!! cranes on the levels will be something else!! any idea on timeing? We may be visiting in 2011/12 hope they are there then!!

Dog Trot Farm said...

Jenny, the Common Crane does not appear so common, what a stunner. Wonderful photos, thanks for taking us on a great field trip.

Rural Rambler said...

Jen oh my gosh that baby chick, I would want to scoop it up so bad and snuggle it. CH would be sure to remind me that my legs looked like that little chick's legs :) The second shot of the Common Crane is great! The flamingos, I just love them and love to watch them. A great day daytrip Jen!

Eve said...

What a great cornucopia of critters Jenny! I love that little coot there too! And that goose with the twig. Very fun! Glad you went and thanks for taking us along!!!

Anonymous said...

Nice to see the Otters Jen and all the strange ducks that you dont see around Frome. {:).
There have been a number of sightings around the fens of the Cranes. Great shots by the way and super new header.

Jenny said...

Hi there Debs, t'was a free trip! (-: I'd love to get to see Sandhill Cranes again and when I saw the Whoopers in Texas, they were quite distant unfortunately! Even tho these will be re-introduced birds, it will still be a thrill to see them on my local Somerset Levels.

Hi Tony, do you remember meeting me outside Slimbridge when I went there to see my first ever Red necked Phalarope? You asked my what the bill was like, and I replied...'well it had one'!!! (-: Tooo funny! (-: Happy times. Well, I'm not sure on the timing, I will ask Paul when we next speak, he might know, or you could e-mail him. Let me know when you're coming over and we'll get together for sure! (-: xx

Hi Julie, well they're pretty common on the continent, but are only just about hanging on here in Britain. So, will be great to see them released so local to me. I would dearly love to see their mating dance!

Hi Pix, yes, that chick would make a nice handful! (-: tho those feet could probably cause some damage!

Hi there Evie, it was nice to have something to blog about, and the inclination to post it too! (-:

Hi Roy, have you seem them nearby? Usually, to see them I have to travel right to the east coast of Norfolk/Suffolk border. It's great to hear that they might be spreading from there! Glad you like the header, me too! (-:

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately I haven't seen them Jen but check this out.

Quiet Paths said...

That looked like a very fine trip. You are right the little chick stole the day.Very cute. You have such excellent shots, Jenny!

The Early Birder said...

Ahh Jen, more memories but it's been a long time since I visited Slimbridge. The Crane Project is well underway with 21 youngsters transferred to the Levels in August and an update suggests a successful release on 19 Sept.

BTW the 'Meerkats' are White-faced Whistling Ducks and not usually very

Jenny said...

Hi Roy, thanks for the link, will check that out this evening.

Hi Christine, it was certainly very sweet posing like that! (-:

Hi Frank, thanks for the crane info, it so happened that I stumbled upon the crane website via me getting started on twitter just a couple of days ago. (-:

Mary said...

That view from the hide is beautiful! How neat to have places like that to go and just sit and watch and take photos. You mean you don't have flamingoes wandering around at home? LOL I love the of my favorite mammals to watch. You must have had very clean plexiglass to get such great photos. That moorhen chick is so cute! What big feet and such a small body of fluff. Nothing cuter than a baby bird. The ducks and geese and crane are neat too. YOu have a great day! Love the header photo.

Kelly said...

Wow! Looks like a fabulous place...and a fabulous day. I love that little chick too, and the otter photos are so good! I'd love to see a pair in the wild. Your Common Crane is beautiful and your photos are wonderful (love the header...). I've seen Sandhill Cranes and they take my breath away. I bet I'd fall in love with the Common Cranes just a quickly.

Jenny said...

Hi Mary, actually, from memory that glass was filthy, but I guess it didn't show up too much in the photos. I'm usually not too keen on hides as I always feel I'm missing out on the view above and behind if you know what I mean. Handy in bad weather though! (-:

Hi Kelly, is there somewhere local where you could get to see wild otters? I've been lucky enough to see them wild in Scotland and also on the Somerset Levels. You can't see them too much though! (-: Hope you get a chance sometime soon!