Sunday, 6 April 2014

Ducks and Geese Galore!

Friday and Saturday didn't produce anything very special for April weatherwise. Friday was the better of the two days as the dull and drab weather of the last few days eventually moved away.

We’d planned a long early weekend away. The plan was to travel to WWT Slimbridge Wetlands leaving Ossett early Friday morning to give us all afternoon to explore the reserve. After staying in Gloucestershire overnight, we planned to move on to Didcot Railway Centre for their special event “Blue is the Colour” which was featuring three blue steam locomotives. In the event we only managed Slimbridge as we weren't at all convinced the weather was going to play ball on Saturday morning so we made an early start for home.
I have to be honest WWT Slimbridge wasn't at all what I was expecting but it made a fantastic afternoon’s photography with a mixture of captive ducks and geese from around the world mixed together with our “native species”. As you wander around the centre there are lots of large style farm gates to go through. Each one has to be opened and closed behind you and you soon realise why as at each gate there will be ducks or geese fancying their chances of getting through the gate to a section of the reserve they shouldn't be in. It’s funny going around a reserve where some of the birds come to meet you rather than you having to look for them. 
We spent some time photographing the many new - to us - species before we headed for the kingfisher hide where if we were lucky we hoped to photograph a kingfisher. The hide was quite busy with all the cameras, videos and binoculars trained on the spot where a kingfisher might arrive and perch. Mrs Mallard arrived with her newly born family of what look like a baker’s dozen of ducklings. It was decision time. Risk missing a kingfisher whilst getting some pictures of this lovely family. I couldn't turn down such an opportunity.
Then a kingfisher arrived perching close to its nesting hole in the bank. 
How much zoom to use? How long will it stay? Can I hold the camera even steadier? Should I try some video too? After years of waiting to see a kingfisher to photograph we've now had two opportunities in a week.

I did try some video which is shown below. I have to say that the continuous clicking of camera shutters on the video are not from either of our cameras. Ours are almost silent when working. I would have thought that the noise some cameras make is enough to scare birds away when taking photos at close quarters.

Sue has posted more about our visit to Slimbridge and some of her kingfisher photos on her blog here.


  1. Popped over from Sue's blog - superb Kingfisher footage!

  2. Wonderful pictures, I'm very envious that you saw a kingfisher. Were you in the South Lake Hide do you know? A couple of times I've been told there's been one just after I've left... I'm glad you liked Slimbridge, but it is quite commercialised now so I can see why it maybe wasn't what you were expecting.

    1. We saw the kingfisher from the well named "Kingfisher hide" on the eastern side of the site. From the discussions in the hide it sounded as though a kingfisher was nesting in a hole in the bank and making regular visits to the nest site. We'd spent the first couple of hours wondering around the site taking lots of pictures and we didn't get ourselves organised until the middle of the afternoon.

      I can see what you mean about it becoming commercialised but even the RSPB reserves are doing the same sort of stuff with restaurants and shops on site. I guess it's all about making money.

      We had a great day out though and would certainly consider a return visit.

    2. Thanks Martyn, we'll be sure to visit the Kingfisher Hide next time we go. We haven't been in there for a while as the kingfishers had abandoned that area at one stage. So thrilled to hear they are back.


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