Fluff and Feathers


Nesting Swan at Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust


I’ve been wanting to return to Slimbridge for ages, so on the one decent weather day this week we decided just to go for it. Late Spring is one of the best times of year to go.



“Don’t even think about it..”

The jackdaw got the message.



Baby chicks are everywhere..




Resting up after dinner



“I know, the whiskers need attention. But can you believe the size of my feet?”



Slimbridge is located in an area of natural wetland alongside the Severn Estuary, Gloucestershire. It was opened in 1946 by the artist and naturalist Sir Peter Scott. The variety of ducks, geese and swans is astonishing.



Greater White-cheeked Pintail



Eider duck

The UK’s heaviest duck. Their call is amazing, I really wish we’d had a video camera. There are a lot of them at Slimbridge, the decibels were high!



From the heaviest duck to the smallest swan…

Coscoroba swan, native to South America.



Bar-headed goose

This is thought to be the world’s highest flying goose, migrating across the Himalayas.



I couldn’t identify these two characters.

They, and many other species, are free to roam across the grounds. There are identification panels around but the inhabitants don’t necessarily choose to stay close to theirs!



Since we were last at Slimbridge the WWT have built a rather impressive observation area next to the Flamingo Pool. The floor is sunken below the level of the water so effectively the viewer is at eye level with the nests.



“What you looking at… this is all ours, OK?”



It’s also possible to sit in one of several hides to view the scene across the wilder areas of the wetland. I wish we’d had more time, it was so peaceful and I could have sat there for hours. The birds here are far more cautious.



We did manage to spot at least three pairs of Greylag geese with young.



Nene (Hawaiian Goose)

The species was rescued from extinction thanks to the breeding programme at Slimbridge. Large numbers have been reintroduced to the wild, but the population here are extremely tame. The public areas provide great access to the birds.



Some get impatient.



 It’s no good trying to ignore them either…



And finally…



 “Ha Ha. Ha Ha HAAAA!!!”

Sentry Duty.



“You guys still here?”


2018-04-01T18:56:54+00:00May 23rd, 2014|Tags: , |


  1. Rosie May 23, 2014 at 3:24 pm - Reply

    How wonderful! I love the Greylags and Nenes also the Eider duck. Love the photo of the goose in the long grass. Such a long time since we visited Slimbridge, glad you had a good time:)

    • Jessica May 23, 2014 at 8:46 pm - Reply

      A long time for us too and much has changed. Next time I would go for longer and spend more time in the hides.

  2. Amy at love made my home May 23, 2014 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    Oh I love the sentry duck!! That is so funny. Are the flamingos year round residents then? I assume that they don’t come and go as the other birds do, but that being the case what do they do in the winter I wonder? Fantastic to see your photos. Did the duck make off with your shoe lace/worm – hee hee!! xx

    • Jessica May 23, 2014 at 8:53 pm - Reply

      The flamingoes wings are clipped, so they can’t fly off. They are one of the species that are contained within a particular area, where they have indoor accommodation too. Although I doubt any of the birds would want to leave, they are well looked after!
      I still have my shoe lace, but it now has teeth marks in it!

  3. Jennifer May 23, 2014 at 3:57 pm - Reply

    I would love to watch ducks in a place like this. That baby is so cute! His feet are huge.

    • Jessica May 23, 2014 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      Hi Jennifer and welcome to rusty duck.
      The moorhen chicks are really cute, such fun to watch them running along. It’s amazing they don’t fall over those feet!

  4. Josephine May 23, 2014 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    What a spectacular place to visit, up close and personal with so many varieties of birds.
    Love all the pictures, but the duck sitting atop the gate, made me giggle….
    Awesome shots, I feel like I’ve had a day out 😉

    • Jessica May 23, 2014 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jo. The duck on the gate was a chance not to be missed. Talk about being in the right place at the right time..

  5. Crafty Gardener May 23, 2014 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Such a fantastic variety of birds and ducks. The baby moorhens are adorable. Lovely to see the bar headed goose, we first saw them on the west coast of Canada but don’t see them here. Love the sign on the gate.

    • Jessica May 23, 2014 at 9:19 pm - Reply

      The bar headed geese are fantastic, and incredible how they manage to fly so high.

  6. Sue@GLAllotments May 23, 2014 at 4:46 pm - Reply

    Love the moorhen feeding the young. I think the unidentified ducks are Black bellied whistling ducks. I’ve looked at the photos we took when we were there as I took photos of the identifying plates too so I could match them when we came home.

    The noise from the eiders was amazing and we had exactly the same problem with geese fancying shoe laces although in our case it was the Hawaiian ducks that seemed to turn up all over.

    • Jessica May 23, 2014 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      I think you’re right in your ID. We took pictures of some of the plates too, but missed that one. I remember your video of the shoe lace fancying goose. It’s obviously a trick they deploy frequently. The really smart ones though ambush you as you come in.. whilst you still have a full bag of corn!

  7. Cathy May 23, 2014 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    Brilliant post Jessica – and great photos. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Jessica May 23, 2014 at 9:27 pm - Reply

      Thanks Cathy, my pleasure.

  8. Joanne May 23, 2014 at 5:22 pm - Reply

    Brilliant photos, it looks like such an amazing place to visit.

    • Jessica May 23, 2014 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      It is. Well worth it if you are ever in the area.

  9. justjilluk May 23, 2014 at 6:01 pm - Reply

    Your Crow is actually a jackdaw, with the swan. The Ducks are, I think, Whistling Ducks. Lovely pics. We used to visit Slimbridge regularly, bit far now!

    • Jessica May 23, 2014 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jill, now corrected.
      Not near enough for us to go as frequently as we’d like either. We used to be members and go probably a couple of times a month early in the morning. Miss it. At least you have sea birds on your doorstep!

  10. young at heart May 23, 2014 at 6:38 pm - Reply

    Who needs the Ngorongoro Crater??

    • Jessica May 23, 2014 at 9:36 pm - Reply

      Wouldn’t mind their weather… 🙂

  11. wherefivevalleysmeet May 23, 2014 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    You have been up in my corner of the world. All of your photos of lovely – the water and the ducks make wonderful images for the camera, and yours are exceptionally good.
    Last time I went to Slimbridge I saw a couple of Bewick Swans carrying out their mating dance which was wonderful to watch.

    • Jessica May 23, 2014 at 9:41 pm - Reply

      It was a lovely day. We had lunch sitting outside at the Gumstool Inn (Calcot Manor). Thanks Rosemary.

  12. rachel May 23, 2014 at 7:13 pm - Reply

    Another lovely place to add to my list of must-sees!

    • Jessica May 23, 2014 at 9:42 pm - Reply


  13. Sarah May 23, 2014 at 8:11 pm - Reply

    Wow those pictures are amazing! You have captured the birds so naturally. We must visit here sometime too! Sarah x

    • Jessica May 23, 2014 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      Every time I see Abbotsbury Swannery on your blog I have the same thought!

  14. threadspider May 23, 2014 at 8:32 pm - Reply

    Lovely spring images. I’m very fond of Slimbridge, the Nenes in particular. 🙂

    • Jessica May 23, 2014 at 9:49 pm - Reply

      A few years ago I went on a behind-the-scenes ‘Day with a Warden’ at Slimbridge. Absolutely fantastic. We had to hold little baby Nenes in our hands while they were administered worming solution. I could feel their little hearts beating… fast! Shame they don’t run it anymore, I would do it every year.

  15. snowbird May 23, 2014 at 9:40 pm - Reply

    What a fantastic post and place….a haven and a heaven. It’s so good to see chicks in the wild and wow….what beauties these are.
    I did laugh at the sentry duck….this post was such a treat, thanks for sharing.xxx

    • Jessica May 23, 2014 at 9:55 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome. Can’t believe it’s four years since we were last there, won’t be so long until the next time! Have you been to Martin Mere?

  16. CJ May 23, 2014 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    So glad you had a good visit there. Your photos are absolutely brilliant. I’ll no doubt be going next week with the boys. I think it’s Downy Duckling week, when you can go behind the scenes and see the eggs and brand new ducklings, as well as some slightly older ones. We’ve perfected the Eider duck call, we always like to do it when we visit them. It has a Frankie Howerd quality to it I think. I hope you have a good weekend. CJ xx

    • Jessica May 24, 2014 at 2:01 pm - Reply

      Your description of the Eider duck call is perfect! It is Downy Ducklings next week, have fun. I so envy you living close enough to go as regularly as you do.

  17. bushbernie May 23, 2014 at 10:34 pm - Reply

    Brilliant shots. It looks like a fantastic place for nature and bird lovers. I just adore the photo showing the stand off between the swan and the jackdaw!! Wonderful stuff.

    • Jessica May 24, 2014 at 2:03 pm - Reply

      Thankfully the jackdaw flew off. This time. Mum can’t afford to leave her eggs for a second.

  18. casa mariposa May 24, 2014 at 12:14 am - Reply

    What an incredible place! I would love to see so many different breeds of ducks all in one setting. Estuaries/wetlands/meadows are some of my favorite places. 🙂

    • Jessica May 24, 2014 at 2:08 pm - Reply

      Me too Tammy. Sadly there are few places left like this in our overcrowded British Isles. There is too much development. Hopefully we are getting the message now though. Wetlands and marshes can actually protect the surrounding environment from flooding, flooding which is becoming all too commonplace.

  19. Virginia May 24, 2014 at 12:37 am - Reply

    What wonderful photos Jessica! As well as knowing how to use it, you must have a great camera – what is it? Slimbridge Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust has just gone onto my list of “Must Do Places” for your next trip to the UK. A couple of years away, by which time the list will be pretty long! We’re not into “Disneyland plastic experiences”, but love exploring National Trust sites, and have a reciprocal membership from our NZ Historic Places membership so it’s not that expensive. Thanks for alerting me to this one.

    • Jessica May 24, 2014 at 2:21 pm - Reply

      The camera is a Nikon D80 DSLR, quite an old one now. Mike is the expert with it and he took all these shots. I was enjoying myself too much watching the birds! When I use it, it is very much point and shoot. The technology seems to make up for my lack of skill.
      Interesting that there is a reciprocal NT arrangement. If we ever make it to NZ (on my bucket list) then hopefully I will be able to make use of it. Slimbridge is not part of the National Trust but, for me anyway, it’s still worth every penny.

  20. Chloris May 24, 2014 at 8:22 am - Reply

    A lovely post with superb photos. I really enjoyed reading about your day. I love ducks and geese and I really enjoy sitting in a hide at Peter Scott’ s Minsmere on the Suffolk coast and watching them. No flamingos there though. What amazing, surreal birds they are. Impossible to see them without thinking of Alice in Wonderland.

    • Jessica May 24, 2014 at 2:28 pm - Reply

      I’ve been hooked on water birds ever since we lived, temporarily, in a house by a lake with resident ducks and geese. I could watch them for hours. So relaxing. Until they started fighting anyway! But there is nothing to beat seeing them in the wild and Minsmere sounds lovely.

  21. Janet/Plantaliscious May 24, 2014 at 9:22 am - Reply

    Fantastic photos Jessica, love the fuzzy babies – and the sentry duck! Slim bridge is a wonderful place, its years since I went without small children and could enjoy the peace of the hides, plus I always seemed to end up going in Autumn or winter. Their willows and dogwoods look amazing but no fluffy new birds to go gooey over.Thank you for the virtual visit.

    • Jessica May 24, 2014 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      There will be more adult birds out of season though, many overwinter there. The trouble with going anywhere in winter for me is our climate, cold wet and windy. Yuk. I should have been a hibernating creature I think.

  22. Pauline May 24, 2014 at 10:22 am - Reply

    You have made me realise that it is far too long since I visited Slimbridge. We were spoiled when we lived in the NW. we were only 20 minutes from Martin Mere another Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust in Lancashire. The moorhen’s feet are so comical, it’s a wonder they don’t fall over them! It’s good to see the flamingoes with eggs on their mud nests.The first birds that came to live in Slimbridge were all young ones, so didn’t know what to do at nesting time, older birds had to be brought in to show them how to build their mud nests!

    • Jessica May 24, 2014 at 2:46 pm - Reply

      When I was last there four years ago they were still struggling with breeding flamingos. I went for a behind-the-scenes day with a Warden and one of our tasks was to collect up the eggs and replace them with wooden ones. They hand reared them in incubators, a surer method than relying on mothering skills. I was trying to see whether the eggs in the shot were genuine ones or not.. couldn’t tell. Perhaps the flamingos have now passed the exam!

  23. woolythymes May 24, 2014 at 2:59 pm - Reply

    you sneak off to the BEST places!!!!!!!!! I loved this post!!!! Sentry duty! too cute!!!

    • Jessica May 24, 2014 at 5:33 pm - Reply

      Stay tuned, we’ve promised ourselves more sneaking off this summer 🙂

  24. Mark and Gaz May 24, 2014 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    They all look so cute Jessica, and wow, pink flamingos!

    • Jessica May 25, 2014 at 9:36 am - Reply

      Some were very pink indeed!

  25. Denise May 24, 2014 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    The duck on the gate! Priceless!!

    • Jessica May 25, 2014 at 9:37 am - Reply

      I know. I couldn’t believe it when I saw it.. we just had to wait a while to get it to ‘laugh’!

  26. nataliescarberry May 25, 2014 at 4:16 am - Reply

    Wow, what a great place! Thank you so much for taking me along with you via your great photos! Oh how I’d love to live close enough to visit there often. Hugs and blessings, Natalie 🙂

    • Jessica May 25, 2014 at 9:40 am - Reply

      It’s about 2 1/2 hours away from here, so enough of a trek. Next year though, for sure.

  27. elaine May 25, 2014 at 8:34 am - Reply

    Your pictures are fantastic. All those littlies are so cute. Love the panoramic shot – gives you a great view of the layout of the place. I have never been but it should definitely be put on the bucket list.

    • Jessica May 25, 2014 at 9:44 am - Reply

      The panoramic shot was taken from a tower above the visitor centre, only a fraction of the view we saw from there but I liked it because it showed the context next to the estuary.

  28. sustainablemum May 25, 2014 at 10:02 am - Reply

    What an amazing place, and lovely photos.

    • Jessica May 26, 2014 at 2:29 pm - Reply

      Thank you!

  29. frayed at the edge May 25, 2014 at 6:25 pm - Reply

    Oooooh – I am so envious! I showed Malcolm the post, and we will defitely have to put Slimbridge on our to-visit list!! Fabulous photos!!

    • Jessica May 26, 2014 at 2:33 pm - Reply

      There’s one in Dumfriesshire, and Tyne and Wear.

  30. AnnetteM May 25, 2014 at 7:25 pm - Reply

    I really enjoyed this post – your photos are wonderful and I love your sense of humour.

    • Jessica May 26, 2014 at 2:34 pm - Reply

      Thanks Annette, I really enjoyed putting it together.

  31. CherryPie May 25, 2014 at 10:18 pm - Reply

    It is a long time since I last visited Slimbridge. You have captured some wonderful photos during your visit.

    • Jessica May 26, 2014 at 2:35 pm - Reply

      Thanks Cherie. Long time for me too, I realised how much I missed all the time we used to spend there.

  32. Marian St.Clair May 26, 2014 at 3:27 am - Reply

    What an amazing place! And your photos are stunning. Loved it!

    • Jessica May 26, 2014 at 2:36 pm - Reply

      I loved the wilder side of it, a definite must for next time.

  33. Jo May 26, 2014 at 12:58 pm - Reply

    Fabulous photos. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Slimbridge on other blogs, it looks a brilliant place for a day out.

    • Jessica May 26, 2014 at 2:37 pm - Reply

      Definitely Jo.

  34. Madelief May 26, 2014 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    Dear Rusty Duck,

    Thank you for your kind comment on my blog! I enjoyed your photo’s of the wildlife in Slimbridge. They are beautiful! You have an eye for detail. My family and I were staying in a cottage near Slimbridge a few years ago, but unfortunately did not manage to visit. I see I will have to remember for our next visit.

    • Jessica May 26, 2014 at 7:40 pm - Reply

      Hi Madelief and welcome!
      It is a very pleasant way to spend an afternoon. But you will enjoy the North Cotswolds too, so many beautiful villages to explore. Gorgeous gardens and some lovely walks, which you will need if you over-indulge on the cream teas..

  35. Helene May 27, 2014 at 1:42 am - Reply

    What a lovely place to visit and fabulous photos – thanks for letting me tag along!

    • Jessica May 27, 2014 at 9:41 am - Reply

      My pleasure Helene 🙂

  36. Jenny May 27, 2014 at 9:15 am - Reply

    What a beautiful set of photos. I’m glad you enjoyed your day at Slimbridge 🙂

    • Jessica May 27, 2014 at 9:41 am - Reply

      Thanks Jenny, I’m looking forward to going back.

  37. CathyT May 27, 2014 at 1:33 pm - Reply

    As everyone else has said – brilliant photos! Thanks for sharing. Babies especially (of whatever species!) always make me smile, but I particularly liked the swan and the jackdaw! Your captions are so funny ….

    • Jessica May 27, 2014 at 2:21 pm - Reply

      The ducklings were very cute. So funny to see them waddling about with their big feet.
      Thanks Cathy.

  38. knitsofacto May 29, 2014 at 6:42 pm - Reply

    It’s years since I’ve been to Slimbridge … once it was the focus of school trips and family outings for this Somerset raised girl. Gorgeous images Jessica … and like you I’ve often marvelled at the size of a moorhen chick’s feet!

    • Jessica May 29, 2014 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      It’s a brilliant place to visit, there would be a lot more pictures from there had we not moved so far away! Thanks Annie.

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