Monday 4th January
Light SW Occasional heavy shower mild - 8 Celsius
The cycle route is once again an easy one, the main A38 to Tewkesbury from Worcester. Then the same to Gloucester and along to Slimbridge. All sounds simple and the trip goes smoothly and steadily enough despite a light, in the face wind and occasional heavy showers. The mild weather from last year is continuing and I should count my blessings.
A few skylarks in a field near Kempsey are the first bird to add to the year list. Otherwise the fields are bare and the hedgerows similar.
Common gull and shelduck are in a field just before Slimbridge; both are year ticks. These make the list stand at 72.
Reaching Slimbridge at 3:00pm I rush down the Zeiss hide. Six people in there haven't seen the reported grey phalarope but luckily I find it (modest) and try to point it out to the others birders present. On Rare Bird Alert and Birdguides the bird is reported as being elusive. It is easy to see why. It is amongst thick, dark green sedges on our side of the pool along the far end of the viewable field. This makes it easy for the rare, very white looking wader to disappear and it does just that.
Luckily a buzzard comes low over the area after about fifteen minutes and all the teal and lapwing take off. The phalarope does likewise and lands on an area of exposed mud. A lady from Cheslyn Hay, Staffordshire named Sheila has a telescope and I put her onto what is a lifer for her. She is so pleased she gives me a kiss on my cheek!
Now the main bird is safely UTB I can look for other year list birds and enjoy the massed flocks of lapwings and golden plover nervous due to the presence of a peregrine. Dunlin also fly both in front of us and out over the Severn Estuary. A little egret heads upstream while on the nearby lake there are wigeon and pintail amongst the masses of teal.
Out on The Dumbles there are a few Great black backed gulls as well as around a hundred barnacle geese. I don't know whether these are genuine wild birds and don't add them to the list.
Off to the nearby Wild Goose Hostel for the night as Slimbridge closes, there I meet two superb workers for the WWT, Kane and Ed. Ed's eyes sparkle as he describes his job of monitoring common scoter in Scotland. Kane later asks if he can both donate some money to the WWT on my behalf and sponsor me also!
The Green Year list now stands at 79.
41.87 miles 994 elevation up 1014 elevation down