SlimBridge Visit 14.1.12
I was really eager to get in but the trip got off to a slow start with a long queue holding me up. I started with the Rushy where a surprisingly low amount of birds quietly sat on the water. Most of these birds were Tufted Ducks(Tuftys) and Shelducks, Pintails, Teals, Wigeon and Pochard. There were about 20 or so Bewick Swans and some Mallards. After looking at a robin outside of the Rushy hide I moved on to the Martin Smith Hide where we saw our most exciting sighting. 4 Common Snipe!! We had great views as they were about 3 metres from us. The markings of the bird were spectacular making it hard to see when you took your eye off it. When one flew off it appeared to be much smaller than a Common Snipe so I asked Slimbridge warden James Lees which type it was. He said, “There has been around 5 Common Snipes consistently from that hide all winter. So far no jack snipes seen from there”. Also in the large expanse beyond the smaller pond where the Common Snipe were there was a gathering of around 200 Wigeon some Pintails and some Pochard. 50 or so Lapwings were scattered around the paddock and right at the back there were some waders including Dunlin and Common Sandpipers. The Robbie Garlett hide looked out onto the same paddock as the Martin Smith hide but only looked out onto a few Mute Swans and a couple of Shelducks, 3 Teal were also mulling around in the pool. After walking through all the captive bird enclosures we came to the Zeiss Hide which was very crowded due to the Bittern in the reeds. I saw it through a man’s telescope but having seen 10 at the Somerset levels, I wasn’t as excited as I should have been. After walking back to the main complex I decided to go back to the Martin Smith where I added a heron to the sightings list.
The best hide has to be the Martin Smith hide as it had the Common Snipes and thousands of other birds in the background. The Zeiss hide was good with the Bittern but lacked other birds. The Rushy was disappointing as the amount of birds was less than expected.
Easily the best moment was seeing the four Common Snipe!! I always see a species of bird I have never seen before, every time I go to Slimbridge. The bittern was also very good as they can be very rare and elusive!