Monday, 17 February 2014

Valentine's Birding Treat At WWT Slimbridge

Here is my Slimbridge post a day later than planned as work had to be done on Sunday:(

As a member of the WWT I had previously been to WWT Caerlaverock on numerous occasions and also to Northern Ireland's WWT Castle Espie but until last week had never been to the first WWT reserve that was opened at Slimbridge in 1946 thanks to the great Sir Peter Scott.

A couple of weeks previously my fiancee and I had decided we should visit for a couple of days so a hotel nearby was booked and the plan was to spend a couple of hours on February 13th in the late afternoon and watch the swan feeding at 4pm, then to spend the whole of February 14th at the reserve.

We were a bit worried with the floods in the area especially at Gloucester but Twitter staff at Slimbridge kindly answered my questions and assured us that the reserve would be okay to get to and to walk around watching the thousands of birds.

Thursday was a fine day with the sun shining but with a pretty strong wind.After negotiating the 10-15 moorhens on the entrance ramp we passed through the centre and headed to the Peng Observatory & Rushy Hide.
There were lots of birds at the first lagoons and it was great to see Sir Peter Scott's large windowed room which I had seen in programs and interviews with him before.

1 of around 8000 Lapwings on the reserve.

Shelduck with an itch at Peng.

It was fantastic to get so close to the stunning Pintail Ducks.
Of course you cannot go to Slimbridge without admiring the famous Bewick Swans that have flown 2300 miles from Russia to be here.
We then moved on to the Martin Smith hide overlooking Tack Piece and were immediately rewarded by my first ever view of a wild Common Crane.This is 1 of 4 spotted on Rushy Pen & Tack Piece.
With the time now nearly 4pm we headed back to Peng Observatory to watch the feeding.
Birds arriving to take advantage of this Wintering feeding spectacle.
Mute Swan
 Canada Geese
 Bewick swans
We left that afternoon very much looking forward to the next day.
Unfortunately Valentine's was very wet with prolonged heavy rain and still a strong breeze.Undetered we donned our waterproofs and headed to the reserve.
This time we spent a while in the World Wetlands getting close up with the various ducks,geese & swans.
Drake Smews.
Hand feeding the Smews.(photo by Majella Fox)
A pair of Goldeneye started displaying in front of us.
Despite the downpours we made it over to the Riverlife section and to the Kingfisher, Lathbury & Zeiss hides.Here we saw Little Grebes,Reed Buntings,Shovelers & 100's of Wigeon.
Our final stop was to walk and climb up the Holden Tower which looked over the River Severn Estuary.
A look to the left and there was a solitary Oystercatcher amongst the Wigeon.
Further towards the estuary a gaggle of geese turned out to be European White-Fronted Geese.A Greenland White-Fronted & a Tundra Bean Goose were also there but not spotted by me with my £30 scope;)
A scan of a group of Shelducks revealed the orange-brown shape of my 1st Ruddy Shelduck:) Also from the Holden Tower a Glaucous Gull rested on an island in the estuary and to top it all off we had a fly by, by a Peregrine Falcon.
I could've quite happily spent a few more days at Slimbridge but unfortunately work gets in the way.I will definately return to see the reserve in the Summer.

Total sightings list at WWT Slimbridge.(42 species)
Common Crane (4)-1st ever sighting                               Wigeon
Ruddy Shelduck-1st ever sighting                                   Teal
European White-Fronted Geese-1st 2014 sighting         Dunlin
Bewick Swans-1st 2014 sighting                                      Lapwings
Barnacle Geese-1st 2014 sighting                                   Mallards
Pintails-1st 2014 sighting                                                 Shelducks
Ruff-1st 2014 sighting                                                      Tufted Ducks
Glaucous Gull-1st 2014 sighting                                      Pochards
Oystercatcher-1st 2014 sighting                                      Mute Swans
Lesser Black Backed Gull-1st 2014 sighting                  Canada Geese
Peregrine-1st 2014 sighting                                             Greylag Geese
Reed Bunting                                                                      Magpies
Shovelers                                                                            Coots
Little Grebe                                                                         Moorhens
Curlews                                                                              Golden Plover
Rooks                                                                                 Jackdaws
Great Tits                                                                            Blue Tits
Goldfinch                                                                            Greenfinch
House Sparrow                                                                   Robin
Wood Pigeon                                                                      Starlings
Chaffinch                                                                             Black-Headed Gull

Apologies for it being such a long post(even though I missed out my encounter with a chestnut backed thrush & Hawaiian Geese) but there was so much to see.

Thank you for reading through all of this and for looking at my photos.It is very much appreciated.
If you like birds get yourself to WWT Slimbridge asap;)
Take care.

Monday, 3 February 2014

An active animal day at Yorkshire Wildlife Park, Doncaster.

I spent another day at the park last week.It was a very cold and dull day but this helped the animals being more active, with the Painted Dogs, Amur Tigers & Lion pride all out and about.

The ring tailed lemurs show how cold it was by huddling together in a lemur ball.
 This wallaby and zebra just looked amused with everything:)
 The Painted dogs were enjoying their food and fun with the recycled Christmas tree.
The Amur tigers were also out running around with Sayan teasing Vlad into chasing her.
A tiring day with the lion pride.
                      The boys were enjoying themselves but not taking much notice of their mother.
So she soon changed that by getting their attention with a quick bite to one of the boys backsides.
As well as all the park animals , it was also a good day to spot the birds around the park.
 Mistle Thrush
                                                                 A very friendly Robin
                                             There were 3 Goldcrests along the Africa Plains
                                                  A Jay in the Forest Adventure Playground
                  Thanks for looking and make sure you go check out the Yorkshire Wildlife Park.:)