Friday, 8 January 2016
Catching Up . . Slimbridge Tuesday 5th January 2016. Birds and Great Friend
Tuesday 5th January very light SW sunny intervals, mild 9C
A great friend, Mark Simkins arrives on his Honda 500cc motorbike at 10:30 and so a day's birding begins at Slimbridge, the HQ of the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust.
After a quick chat with effervescent Ellie, the ex-fundraising officer for the WWT, it is to the Rushy Pen hide we go and we find the two female scaup amongst the masses of tufted duck. There are also a few bewick swans to add to year list. These please me as last year I only saw one! Pintail are as superbly beautiful as ever and go onto the list.
Mark and I head out to the Holden Tower to look over The Dumbles towards the River Severn. There are masses of birds with very large flocks of lapwing and golden plover. Dunlin are mixed in amongst them and there are small numbers of a few duck species. There is also a flock of barnacle geese but I am unsure about their origin. Category C on the British list I am later told but I feel the same way abut these as I did the snow geese on Coll and don't count them.
On Tack Piece, a flooded field within the sea wall there are a huge number of teal. The WWT website recent sightings page reports that there was over 23,000 there yesterday and a search through them doesn't give me a green-winged teal. I had to look after what happened last year at RSPB Loch Leven.
There are a few, relative to what numbers there used to be here in the past, whitefronted geese, the first year tick of the day. Nowadays the geese stay over in the Netherlands. There is also a flock of around one hundred black-tailed godwits, another year tick.
A large female sparrowhawk is hunting along the hedgerow and a buzzard is sitting on a post with it's wings in a strange relaxed pose.
With a view over towards the Zeiss hide I find the grey phalarope again.
The rest of the day is spent alternating brief wild bird watching moments with prolonged travel experience chats; Mark having been to Ppatagonia recently as well as having treked up both Mount Kenya and Kilimanjaro last year. Mark particularly likes the various flamingo species.
Once Mark leaves I return to the hides overlooking Tack Piece and find ruff, the final year tick of the day.
Back at the excellent and very quiet Wild Goose Lodge nearby I have an early night, falling asleep early to the sound of a hooting tawny owl.
The Green Year list now stands at 85.