Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Gloucestershire 26th January Part 2


We drove to nearby Frampton-on Severn where I knew a tawny owl had a roost site (having seen photos of it on social media). After some detective work and helped by Mike at the aforementioned Glosterbirder website I knew exactly which tree the owl was usually in. After parking the car it took 5 minutes to locate the tree and sure enough the tawny owl (female I think owing to the rufous brown colour) was sat in the opening to a hole snoozing away despite the attention of several jackdaws close by. The owl was unruffled and slept peacefully on as I manoeuvred for the best position in which to take photos from. There was an annoying twig obscuring the bird but I wasn't bothered since it is always nice to see owls. This tawny was my third species of owl in just over a week following on from the little and barn owls seen recently (Owling about at work! 17-21 January 2018). 

   After a bite to eat and a half of local bitter in the excellent and "proper pub", The Three Horseshoes, we headed off to spend a couple of hours at WWT Slimbridge which was as busy as always (Friday afternoons are not the best time to visit!) but we made the most of it. The hides were mostly full but we managed to find some room to look out onto the Rushy Pen and I instantly spotted the two little stints that I knew had been present for some time. Pretty good views of this diminutive wader too. 

little stint
   I also spotted a ruff amongst the lapwings and of course there were Bewick's swans too. Of the duck species, the pintails were the most striking and nice to see close up (unlike at Otmoor!).

male pintail

female pintail


   We moved off to view the Tack Piece and marvelled at the amount of birds there! There must have been several thousand golden plover (a favourite of Mrs Caley's), at least as many lapwing, over a hundred dunlin, lots of curlews, redshanks and many more ruff. A spotted redshank was stood asleep amongst the throng too. At intervals the whole mass of birds would take to the air but only once did we see a raptor and that was a buzzard which didn't appear to interested in chasing anything. There were also hundreds of wigeon (I couldn't find the reported Chiloe x Eurasian wigeon hybrid), lots of shelducks, several hundred tufted ducks, more pintails, over a thousand teal, a few shoveler and some pochards. Not forgetting the ubiquitous moorhen and coots.

golden plover

Bewick's swan



spotted redshank, redshank & ruff


   Best though were 6 white-fronted geese, 3 of which landed and bathed then preened right in front of our vantage point. A welcome addition to the year list (which as you know already, I don't keep). We also witnessed a fly past by a kingfisher, which whistled away excitedly as it passed (but as normal didn't stop).

white-fronted goose (& Bewick's swan)

   With an hour or so of daylight left we wandered towards the other side of the reserve stopping to take in some of the captive species. I particularly like drake smew so idled for a while taking some shots of a couple of males that were have a spruce up in the pond. This particular enclosure also has goldeneye, eider and scaup of various species (including lesser scaup which reminded me ruefully of the hybrid scaup at Farmoor) and is always a place I stop and admire. I know they don't count on any lists but it's well worth watching such familiar (and some unfamiliar) species up close (rather than down the barrel of a scope at 100 yards away!).

male smew

male lesser scaup
   A stop was also made at the wader enclosure. This pen of captive wading birds has avocets, redshanks, ruff and a pair of black-winged stilts. I took photos of the stilts, since the only images that I have are of distant ones from Lakenheath last summer, and I may rekindle my drawing hobby one day!

black-winged stilt

   The last half hour or so was spent at the South Lake where we had good views of an Oystercatcher and some common snipe. There were also a large number of gulls here getting ready to roost for the night. The black-headed gulls in particular cut handsome figures in the late afternoon sunshine.


black-headed gull

   The only slight regret was that I had forgotten all about a red-breasted goose (which is another species still absent from my life list that I don't keep) that was with the barnacle goose flock by the Zeiss hide. But opinion is divided as to whether its a truly wild bird anyway. There remains the problem of places like Slimbridge in where the line is drawn between genuine wild birds and stray or feral birds that attach themselves to wild populations.

   In conclusion we had a really enjoyable day, a long awaited addition to the life list and some other good birds seen too! A note on the photos; the extender remained on the camera all day since I decided that practice in it's use is needed!

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