Today was another day out in Gloucestershire, the initial venue for our small crew being a small valley in the south of the county which is currently hosting a wintering Red-flanked Bluetail. This little star was on show as soon as we arrived and although he didn't come as close as we would have liked, his Redstart-like behaviour, tail flicking, sharp call and apricot-coloured flanks with a blue fore-wing and tail ensured it was a pleasure to behold. In the strong sunshine he was sub-songing, albeit that the rush of the nearby water meant we couldn't hear what it sounded like.
A couple of Ravens and a singing Grey Wagtail were the best of the rest and after some brunch we decided to spend the rest of the day at the Wildfowl and Wetlands reserve at Slimbridge.
The winter sunshine continued as we panned through very large numbers of Lapwing, Golden Plover and other waders on the wet meadows and dumbles, and checked the grazing geese to locate Eurasian White-fronted and a single Tundra Bean. Raptors included Sparrowhawk, several Common Buzzards and a marauding Peregrine. A couple of Common Cranes strode the dumbles between the hides and the River Severn and scarcer waders included Little Stint and Avocet.
The pens or paddocks holding the pinioned and captive waterfowl are always interesting and our experience included hand-feeding captive Smew, photographing potential vagrants to the UK and studying exotic water-birds from all over the world. Some North American River Otters were on show in one pen (a close relative to our Otters).
More wild bird birding was good for a variety of common birds, particularly with plenty of feeders bringing them in nice and close. A couple of Cetti's Warblers were both showy and vocal.
We finished the day by watching plenty of waterfowl coming in to the afternoon feeding session, although not as many Bewick's Swans arrived as we had hoped.
Nevertheless a super end to another great day's birding!
Captive female Lesser Scaup.
A bird yet to be recorded in
Northamptonshire, and surely
a hot contender as the next
addition to the county list?