After a couple of months of fieldwork in Wytham Woods, I decided to take a two day break birding in Gloucestershire (an area close to home but one that I have surprisingly never visited any reserves in!). The first day took me to WWT Slimbridge, a site widely-famed in the UK for its diversity and stronghold of certain wetland species. The 4-hour stomp around the site took me to 69 species, including the absolute gem of a returning white-spotted bluethroat. This is a species that is normally only seen as a passage migrant on the east coast of the UK in the spring and autumn as it moves between breeding sites in eastern Europe and its wintering sites in Africa. However, in Slimbridge, a male bluethroat is holding territory for the third year in a row. After acting very elusively for the last few days, on the morning I arrived it was showing beautifully from a nearby shepherd's hut hide and I managed to get some photos - a lifer for me! As well as this highlight, it was also great to see large numbers of avocet, barnacle goose, shelduck and black-tailed godwit at the reserve, in addition to the very graceful black-winged stilt.
On the second day, I visited a couple of sites: Coombe Hill Meadows and RSPB Nagshead. The first of these was a moderately-sized flood meadow with a canal running alongside. Here, there was at least one pair of breeding yellow wagtail, and a great diversity of waders on the wetland scrape. Despite being a lot less than half the size, it provided sightings of just 8 species less than Slimbridge. In the Forest of Dean's Nagshead, I saw a different range of species due to the much more wooded habitat, including spotted flycatcher, siskin and a female redstart.
Over the entire trip, I saw 94 species, taking my UK year total to 168 (very close to the number I ended on at the end of 2022!). Trip report available on eBird.
A blog of my ideas, photography and research of the natural world.