A dawn check of the patch revealed that the drake Goosander was still roosting on the floods, which was a nice surprise, as my dad had failed to see it over the last week.
Moving southwards towards our eventual destination, we stopped off at Stourport Marina, looking for the Grey Seal that had been seen there, however we drew a blank. In compensation, a nice Finch flock of 40c Siskin and 5c Lesser Redpoll were showing in the riverside birches. Again, onwards, and my next report is from the River Avon at Bredon, where the river had flooded its banks, and in the flooded field viewable from the motorway, i saw a LITTLE EGRET perched in the water!
And again, onward! To our final destination, Slimbridge.
Upon getting to the Center it was straight to the Tack Piece, as in winter it is by far my favorite area at Slimbridge. You can sit in one of the hides (Robbie Garnett being my preference) and simply scan through the masses for hours, my hope though was to catch up with the Spotted Redshank which was present, as it was a bird i missed last year. Upon reaching the small bridge over the pond at the start to the Holden Walkway, i saw a wintering CHIFFCHAFF! I dont see many wintering Chiffies, so it was nice to see one so early on in the year!
The very decent sized Wigeon flock (of over 1300 birds) was grazing at multiple locations over the flooded field. However it was the wader flocks that had the majority of my attention. However, a stunning Little Egret grabbed my attention. Always a great bird to see, and one that i am glad to say is regular over southern Britain, soon to be followed by a wide range of other heron species from the continent surely?
Waders were very well represented, most notable were the Lapwings (2000c), Golden Plover (1000+) and Dunlin (700c). This alone counts as amazing birding for a midlander like me, but combined with smaller flocks of other species 60c Redshank and 50 Black-tailed Godwit, and at least 5 Ruff all combine for some excellent birding.
After a while scanning, i picked up a 'pale' Redshank feeding near the Golden Plover flock, and when getting my scope on the bird, i had confirmed that i did indeed have the SPOTTED REDSHANK, Mission done, time to leave.....
Not reallyI got down to trying to get some long distance pictures as the bird waded in shallow water around the Lapwings. Subtly distinctive in winter plumage, Spotshank is always a nice bird to catch up with. I did end up getting one decent photo from the lot, and a little bit of footage
To compare, one of its Common cousins was showing fairly close to the hide!
Having had our fill, we decided to move on, getting into the Holden Tower for high tide....
And it wasnt worth it in the slightest, a count of 120c Curlew, and about 1000 Wigeon were on the estuary which almost the entire wader flock was flushed off the Tack piece and landed on the far edge of the Dumbles, feeding in the long grass. Both of these sites also had huge numbers of Pintail, with around 500 plastered over both areas! Similarly, Bewick Swans and White-fronted Geese were also in both areas.
Me moved down the the Rushy Pen, where we first spotted a 2w Common Gull. Note the almost entirely black primarys and the bill pattern.
The stars of the show here though were the Pintail's, of which a few were showing exceptionally close to the hide! Sadly, they spent most of their time asleep however, when they woke up. Wow! Look at these stunning ducks!
The drakes in particular are stunning!
Wow, nothing more to say!
We briefly stopped at the South Lake, where a large flock of Black-tailed Godwit was present!
Following this, it was onwards to the Zeiss hide for our annual dip on the Bittern. 3 Hours and there was no sign. However, a nice adult Water Rail was nice compensation, which shown regularly at the edge of the reeds, and very close.
It made a change to see one with the sun on it!
As always, i also took some footage.
A small number of the 173 White-fronted Geese were feeding on the seawall, with the estuary as a background.
As always, large numbers of Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler and Pintail were also on the flash here. And this activity meant we were treated t a great fly through of a brute of a female Peregrine!
With the day drawing to a close, we briefly stopped near the rowing area to drink our tea. And this proved a good decision, as a Cetti's Warbler was flitting about the reeds!