Sunday, 29 July 2012

Saturday 28th July 2012 - Gloucestershire

Today we left the county for the first time this month. There were two reasons for this. Firstly, Staffordshire is going through a pretty quiet spell at the moment, and last Saturday, we spent all day trawling various sites, and at the end of the day we realised we'd seen absolutely nothing. Secondly, I have a slight problem with visiting Branston at the moment. You see, you have to walk through two grassy fields to get there. Last week as CJW followed  me, he commented on the amount of dust I was kicking up. We soon realised we were caked in yellow dust. It took me a few moments to realise the yellow dust was pollen - loads of the stuff - in fact, my trousers were yellow, and CJW had to wipe an inch of yellow dust off his scope lens. As a hay fever sufferer, this is not an ideal situation, and for the last two weekends, I been sky high on anti-histamine and sneezing my head off for several days afterwards. This week, we gave the place a miss. We headed to Gloucestershire instead. 

We popped into Gailey on our way south (GJM -who would have thought it had come to this!), but our journey south was soon held up by an overturned vehicle on the M5. We decided to leave the motorway, but soon discovered that there was a PURPLE HERON at Coombe Hill Meadows, a place I'd never visited before. We soon found the place, but the car park was small, and we only just squeezed in. We walked along the towpath, and soon met up with some birders heading back. They looked at our footwear and laughed at us. We then found out that the path to the hide was flooded, and there was a nice, black, smelly mud about a foot deep to wade through. We were told that without wellies, we stood no chance!

Every birder walking back told us the same story. Except one in trainers.

The path to the hide

He said that he had walked along the bottom of the fence. And so I did the same. Sometimes, I put a foot on either side. However, it was quite a long stretch of flooded boardwalk, and I was soon knackered. The things you do to see a bird! It took me about three-quarters of an hour before the juv Purple Heron decided to give me a flight view. Then, I had to negotiate the path once more. Ten minutes of shuffling along the bottom of the rail again.

Stunning picture of the Purple Heron in Gloucs

It was then onto Slimbridge. Unfortunately the motorway traffic was now coming through Gloucester town centre, and it took us nearly an hour to do the 25min drive down to the WWT centre. We managed to get in without paying the £10-95 entrance fee and soon were watching the s/pl LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER sleeping among the large group of BLACK-TAILED GODWITS. It was showing quite well, but we were looking into the sun.

Long-billed Dowitcher at Slimbridge - my first one for 6yrs!