Sunday, 7 May 2017


Hello all,
I know it's a little while back, but on 21st April, I visited the wonderful WWT Slimbridge. Over the course of the day, 59 species were seen, including the wonderful trio of Black-winged Stilts!

We started off the day at the South Lake, as that was where the Black-winged Stilts had last been seen. They were immediately viewable, albeit at distance, on the wader scrape at the back. There were two males and a female; the adult males have a dark cap to their heads, whilst the females have a small, patchy patch of brown on the top of their head. There seemed to be a pair, and one distinctly miffed extra male. The pair later mated, when we saw them from the Hogarth Hide.

Avocets were remarkably abundant, with roughly 40 on site that day. There was also a pair of Oystercatchers on South Lake, along with the large Black-headed gull colony.

The Holden Tower also had excellent pickings. A large flock of a few hundred Black-tailed Godwits made for good viewing, whilst feeding alongside them was a marginally smaller but distinctly different Greenshank! A great find! A group of 11 Ruff also made for good birding, as they displayed the plethora of different plumages that Ruff can display. An all-black male was developing the plumes for which they get their name but there was also a splendid cream-headed male. Perched in the grass at the far bank was a Peregrine; how one of the guides found that, I will never know! Finally at the  Holden Tower was a possible Bar-tailed Godwit. It was a little hard to judge from 200 feet away, but it seemed to be a good candidate.

The Peng held a Common Sandpiper (I had forgotten just how small they were), as well as a calling Cetti's warbler, and a group of 4 flying Redshank.

Black-tailed Vs. Bar-tailed
  • Barwit has relatively short legs
  • Blackwit has black tail; Barwit has a barred tail (seen in flight)!
  • Barwit have a more distinct curve upwards to their bill
  • Blackwit has a paler orange wash in Summer plumage
  • That's about it...
That may have to remain as "the one that got away..."

After lunch, we had another look at the Black-winged Stilts, this time from the Hogarth Hide. The pair mated, just as a Kingfisher zipped in front of the hide. Two Cranes also flew over at this point, just to add to the action, and a Buzzard also caused a slight panic amongst the Corvids!

Day List: Mallard, Mute Swan, Coot, Moorhen, Greylag, Canada Goose, Tufted Duck, Blackbird, Blue tit, Robin, Starling, Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Common Sandpiper, Black-winged Stilt, Shelduck, Gadwall, Shoveler, Song Thrush, Whitethroat, Peregrine, Buzzard, Avocet, Black-headed gull, Lesser Black-backed gull, Great Black-backed gull, Herring gull, Lapwing, Crane (GCP), Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Blackcap, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Sedge warbler, Cetti's warbler, Teal, Rook, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Kingfisher, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit (Pos.), Collared dove, Chiffchaff, Grey heron, Great tit, House sparrow, Wigeon, Swallow, House martin, Greenshank, Cormorant, Magpie, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Willow warbler. 59 SPECIES

Right at the entrance: A Feral Pigeon nest, complete with squab!
The somewhat photogenic Crested Screamers

A confiding Common Sandpiper
"The Audrey Hepburn of the bird world!"

BWS from 150 yards
Black-winged Stilt, complete with Greylag chicks!

Not sure if those legs are actually quite that artificial-looking in real life!

A nice one on which to end: a straightforward portrait.


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