Flying Visit

We were up in The Midlands for most of last week and took a leisurely drive back. Leisurely enough to consider breaking the journey half way. Somewhere around Bristol. So, what were the options?

Would it be joining the throng of early Christmas shoppers at Cribbs Causeway?





Trumpeter Swan, Slimbridge Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust.


No contest.

There were a pair of these, circling their lake and repeatedly trumpeting in turn. They are well named. The largest species of swan apparently. Exquisite birds.



Someone had spilled some grain over the side of the glass barrier at the flamingo pool. A Mute Swan spotted it, enabling us to get as close as I’ve ever been to a swan. A matter of inches from its eye.



Yum Yum



Not that the flamingos were bothered



Plumed Whistling Ducks



Bar Headed Geese

If you remember from our last visit to Slimbridge (here), these are the world’s highest flying geese. Their migration route takes them across the Himalayas.



Red Crested Pochard

I can sympathise mate, that happens to me after a blow dry too.



White faced Whistling Ducks

How cute are they? They all seem to stand and look the same way..



Mirror image



Hawaiian geese (Nene)

“Ooo.. Don’t mind if I do..”



Coscoroba Swan

The smallest swan, more like a goose. So graceful.



American Flamingos

..In the pink


And finally..



Slimbridge at dusk.

The Greylag geese, having spent the day shamelessly ambushing small children for the contents of those little brown bags, took off in waves towards the estuary or wherever they spend the night.

Right over the top of our heads. Magic.


2018-04-22T19:29:03+00:00November 10th, 2014|Tags: |


  1. Jo November 10, 2014 at 12:52 pm - Reply

    Wonderful photos. It looks like a fabulous place with so many different species of water birds. We have so many geese flying over us at the moment, they don’t half make a racket.

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 8:28 pm - Reply

      They do, Canada geese over here. But I so love to see them and at least we can hear when they’re coming 🙂

      • Linda November 11, 2014 at 12:39 am - Reply

        Ha! Canada Geese! YAY!
        Love the Pochard…..hilarious!
        Beautiful series of photos Jessica!
        We love watching the ducks and the geese at the lake….
        Making their formations…..and then….off they go!
        Enjoy your week….
        Linda :o)

        • Jessica November 11, 2014 at 6:28 pm - Reply

          Many Canada geese spend their winter on the large lake at the nursing home where my mother used to be. I loved to watch them too. I learnt to tell when they were about to take off, restlessly paddling about, calling to each other and when the babble reaches the maximum, off they go. Sometimes they would just circle round a time or two and then come back in, just as spectacular.

  2. Em November 10, 2014 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    Brilliant photos. I’ve never seen a bar headed goose before. Aren’t they gorgeous? We should get together before Christmas. It’s only six weeks away!

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 8:32 pm - Reply

      They are. I’ll email you Em. Thanks for the reminder… 🙁

  3. Rosie November 10, 2014 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    Lovely photos! I love the whistling ducks and the Nene but they are all stunning birds. How wonderful to have the greylags fly overhead:)

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 8:38 pm - Reply

      They make a wonderful sound flying overhead don’t they? There’s a word for the noise their wings make and I can’t remember what it is.

  4. elaine November 10, 2014 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    Gorgeous photos – a wise decision to stop there.

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 8:39 pm - Reply

      Mike would never have been allowed to forget it if we hadn’t..

  5. Mark and Gaz November 10, 2014 at 2:31 pm - Reply

    They are all elegant and beautiful birds Jessica!

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 8:41 pm - Reply

      They are. And it must be a good life for a bird there. Plenty of food and no predators, land based ones anyway.

  6. Linda from Each Little World November 10, 2014 at 3:05 pm - Reply

    This looks like such a wonderful place to visit. I remember your prior post, just as enthralling. Love those bar-headed geese, so graphic!

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 8:43 pm - Reply

      We used to live a lot closer and had a season ticket. Now it’s an expensive treat, still worth it though.

  7. Pauline November 10, 2014 at 3:31 pm - Reply

    You certainly had a wonderful visit, far better than stopping at Cribbs Causeway! The Wildfowl Trust are such amazing places to visit, we used to live by Martin Mere in Lancashire before moving here, it was my favourite place for bird watching. Winter visits are definitely the best time to see all the migrating birds, when they come in to feed in their thousands, it is mind blowing!

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 8:45 pm - Reply

      I think Martin Mere is probably better for that, I’d love to see it!

  8. Sue@GLAllotments November 10, 2014 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    That is a dangerous place to visit with a camera as is Martin Mere its more northerly cousin, I think we took over 300 photos each at each of them when we visited, Such a good job we don’t have to buy film.

    As you said crowds of birds or crowds of shoppers – no contest.

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 8:48 pm - Reply

      We are spoilt in the digital age. It was a tough job taking photographs in the dim light though. The last photo especially, the quality is not good but I loved the composition.

  9. Linda P. November 10, 2014 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    What a relaxing day you must have had watching those beautiful birds at Slimbridge! Lovely photos.

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 8:50 pm - Reply

      Thanks Linda. It is a place I always find relaxing. I could spend hours watching the birds.

  10. Christina November 10, 2014 at 4:30 pm - Reply

    You brought back happy memories; I visited Slimbridge more years ago than I care to remember; it was wonderful then, I must try to fit in a visit again. Is it far from Bristol airport? Perhaps we could visit as we arrive or leave sometime.

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 8:55 pm - Reply

      It’s the other side of Bristol unfortunately, and would be a pig to get to from there. But then, Bristol Airport is a pig to get to from anywhere! But if you can find an opportunity Slimbridge is still well worth a visit. I can’t think of a better place to unwind after a flight.

  11. Jayne Hill November 10, 2014 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    What a lovely day out, and excellent photos. You’ve reminded me that ~many~ yearasgo Management and I won a day at Slimbridge with a professional photographer. So long ago that embarrassingly I can’t remember his name but we had a great time and the staff at Slimbridge looked after us brilliantly.

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 9:03 pm - Reply

      That does sound brilliant, you must have learnt so much! One of the best days out I ever had was to spend a day at Slimbridge shadowing a warden. If they still did it I would sign up like a shot. We got to go to all the back of house areas. The job for the day was worming baby Nene chicks. It meant I had to hold one in my hands while they dosed it up. I could feel its little heart beating.. fast!

  12. Amy at love made my home November 10, 2014 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    Definitely better than shopping!! You really do take wonderful pictures. xx

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 9:04 pm - Reply

      Credit where it’s due.. all of these were Mike’s. I was too busy admiring the birds.

  13. Charlie@Seattle Trekker November 10, 2014 at 6:57 pm - Reply

    The photos are such fun to look at, I can image your outing was quite special.

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 9:06 pm - Reply

      Very special Charlie. It had been a tough week, I needed a break. Box ticked.

  14. Kris P November 10, 2014 at 6:59 pm - Reply

    What a beautiful place! So many water birds in one place – even Nene, sightings of which are sparse even in Hawaii. Your photos are wonderful.

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 9:12 pm - Reply

      If memory serves me right, the naturalist Peter Scott set up Slimbridge mainly to provide a habitat for Nenes to save them from extinction. They’ve subsequently been reintroduced to the islands but many remain here too. They are gorgeous birds, and very tame. Quid pro quo for feeding them is they let me stroke them under the chin. The down is so soft.

  15. SeagullSuzie November 10, 2014 at 7:38 pm - Reply

    Really great to see all these birds and what a finish with a fly over, much better than shopping and crowds.

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 9:29 pm - Reply

      There is something of a risk in standing underneath… I nearly got splattered! Even so, much better than crowds.

  16. AnnetteM November 10, 2014 at 7:42 pm - Reply

    Wonderful photographs. I would love to go some time.

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 9:32 pm - Reply

      Thanks Annette. I’d love to see all the pink footed geese you get up there too. They must be an incredible sight in such numbers.

  17. Marian St.Clair November 10, 2014 at 8:02 pm - Reply

    So glad you didn’t go shopping, the photos wouldn’t have been nearly as nice:^) This looks like a great place to stretch your legs.

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 9:33 pm - Reply

      Shopping is all on line these days.. much better for the blood pressure!

  18. frayed at the edge November 10, 2014 at 8:10 pm - Reply

    Stunning photos!!

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 9:34 pm - Reply

      Thanks Anne. I thought of you with the swans!

  19. starproms November 10, 2014 at 8:40 pm - Reply

    Ooh you really got your money’s worth there. The birds are all wonderful. Thank you very much for showing us.

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 9:39 pm - Reply

      Hi Oma! I’d really liked to have stayed for longer. They have great hides where you can sit and watch the wilder birds out on the wetlands, but there wasn’t enough time for that. Next time.

  20. Suzanne Dutchess County, NY, USA November 10, 2014 at 9:10 pm - Reply

    The mirror image is fabulous! Love watching water fowl.

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 9:47 pm - Reply

      Mike has that one as his desktop wallpaper. He’s quite proud of it! You and me both. We pass close to Slimbridge every time we leave the south west and go ‘up country’.. 🙂

  21. Chloris November 10, 2014 at 10:00 pm - Reply

    What a fabulous place, Jessica. I love looking at ducks and geese. Great photos too. You have made me realise that my life is not complete without some flamingos. I always felt that there was something missing from my pond. A Red crested Pochard would be quite nice, but not just quite showy enough. No, it has to be flamingos.

    • Jessica November 10, 2014 at 10:17 pm - Reply

      Where was it someone used a flamingo to play croquet, Alice in Wonderland? Just thought, you must have flamingos, they would go perfectly with your house!

  22. Freda November 10, 2014 at 11:22 pm - Reply

    I will get there one day! We listen and look for Whooper swans about now – perhaps they are on their way to Slimbridge when they pass through. Super photographs.

    • Jessica November 11, 2014 at 6:09 pm - Reply

      I’ve seen Whooper (or Bewick’s?) on Skye at Christmas time, and they were at Slimbridge last week too. Magnificent to see them in flight.

  23. Denise November 10, 2014 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    Fantastic xxxxxxx Loved this xxx

    • Jessica November 11, 2014 at 6:09 pm - Reply

      Thanks Denise.

  24. Virginia November 10, 2014 at 11:45 pm - Reply

    Slimbridge was the place you visited last year, and it’s the first place on my list of places we will go to when we’re over next year – along with Newark Park, and Coleton Fishacre – all thanks to your wonderful posts. If I was a multimillionaire I wouldn’t own expensive cars and holiday houses, but I would spend up on air travel and visit more than once in three or four years! Each to their own I guess. And I certainly agree with you, hordes of people – particularly during the pre-Christmas rush – make a wild-life park triply attractive! I love that last photo – wonderful.

    • Jessica November 11, 2014 at 6:21 pm - Reply

      Oh absolutely, travel would be what I’d do too. Only I’d be coming over to you. If we both win the lottery we must meet up for a meal somewhere halfway! I had to fight with Mike to use that last photo. He says the quality is awful. If you zoom in the geese are out of focus, the light was really bad and obviously they were moving. But for me it brings back all the drama of the moment and that is enough.

  25. Anny November 11, 2014 at 6:47 am - Reply

    Very glad we’re not having goose for Christmas…

    The rest of our family stayed in Slimbridge during July and were adopted by a goose – we called it Fifi (the Shrek effect)…

    • Jessica November 11, 2014 at 6:35 pm - Reply

      Lovely name!
      I haven’t eaten goose or duck for years, not since living at the cottage by a lake that had its own waterfowl population.

  26. Janet/Plantaliscious November 11, 2014 at 9:39 am - Reply

    Fabulous! I love Slimbridge, we used to live quite close to it, but I’ve not been for years. I remember the ridiculous-looking Red Crested Pochards though… Were the pollarded willows looking wonderful?

    • Jessica November 11, 2014 at 6:43 pm - Reply

      I am hopeless when it comes to trees, is that what the specimens in the last pic are? Having been to the hairdressers today I am officially channelling Pochards.. Temporarily. Normal scruffy service will shortly resume.

  27. Sigrun November 11, 2014 at 12:17 pm - Reply

    Beautiful – so much birds. Never heard from Slimbridge.


    • Jessica November 11, 2014 at 6:46 pm - Reply

      It’s lovely to see them all looking so healthy and well cared for. I suppose the price we (and they) pay is that they have lost their wildness. But I do enjoy the opportunity to get so close to them.

  28. rachel November 11, 2014 at 1:22 pm - Reply

    I must go there. Soon. I shall tell The Gardener.

    • Jessica November 11, 2014 at 6:47 pm - Reply

      The planting is good too. Lots of grasses. He’ll enjoy it.

  29. Julie November 11, 2014 at 1:40 pm - Reply

    Some wonderful photographs from your visit to Slimbridge, we haven’t yet visited but would really like too. Our nearest WWT centre is Welney in Norfolk. The area becomes flooded with the excess river water from the area we live in and in the winter time with the right conditions its quite an incredible sight. I do not think I have seen a Trumpeter Swan before, there are lots of Whoopers at Welney and when we visited last winter some Bewicks, but I think that species is in decline and they are trying to raise funds to help protect them.

    • Jessica November 11, 2014 at 6:57 pm - Reply

      I hope they succeed, they’re beautiful birds. Slimbridge used to have a Bewick called Crinkly, named after his bent neck. I wonder what happened to him. There is nothing to beat seeing birds in the wild, especially in large numbers.

  30. Donna@GardensEyeView November 11, 2014 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    I agree best choice…to be up close and personal to these beautiful birds so many I don’t see here…especially the flamingos!

    • Jessica November 11, 2014 at 7:05 pm - Reply

      Some of the flamingos had been taken under cover, presumably they are more sensitive to the cold. You would be less inclined to get close to those… it gets a bit pongy in their shed. They are beautiful though, I agree. Their legs seem too fragile to support such a large bird.

  31. Jennifer November 11, 2014 at 3:14 pm - Reply

    SOOO much better than shopping! Wow. Your photos are incredible, I’m so impressed. You could work for National Geographic! Thank you for sharing.

    • Jessica November 11, 2014 at 7:22 pm - Reply

      Thanks Jennifer. Photos are a team effort, but mostly Mike. If he ever lands a job with National Geographic he’d have to take me along though, in my joint roles of Artistic Director and bag carrier.

  32. islandthreads November 11, 2014 at 3:29 pm - Reply

    good place to stop Jessica, ugh the very thought of crowed shops noooooooooooo! thanks for sharing the enjoyment, home you are home safe and sound, Frances

    • Jessica November 11, 2014 at 7:26 pm - Reply

      Thanks Frances, home safe and sound. Back to the rainy side. Severe weather warning until Friday. It’s enough to drive you to shopping. OK, not quite.

  33. Denise November 11, 2014 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    Lovely ducks and geese and flamingos! Fla-min-GO! Fabulous word! I think in my next life I’d run something to do with birds. But I would add chickens to the mix. Also, I think you made the right decision ‘twixt mingling with Christmas shoppers and mingling with birds! No contest!

    • Jessica November 11, 2014 at 7:48 pm - Reply

      Definitely chickens. I dream of gardening to the gentle soundtrack of chickens quietly clucking on the lawn. Not that it will happen.

  34. angiesgardendiaries November 11, 2014 at 5:38 pm - Reply

    You certainly made the right choice. I’d much rather visit Slimbridge and go christmas shopping!
    Lovely photos and a few birds I had never heard of before. Thanks for sharing your trip Jessica.

    • Jessica November 11, 2014 at 7:49 pm - Reply

      I’m afraid Christmas shopping holds no appeal for me whatsoever. Thank god for the internet.

  35. hoehoegrow November 11, 2014 at 7:34 pm - Reply

    I think you made the correct choice Jessica, and soothed your soul by doing so. Lovely photos. I really enjoyed them, but why do I find the flamingoes so incongruous ?

    • Jessica November 11, 2014 at 8:00 pm - Reply

      They are a bit. Slimbridge seems to appeal to two distinct groups: those who want to get close to a wide variety of birds, including many other non natives, and those who want to see the wild bird life along the estuary wetlands. There are at least half a dozen hides where you can watch nature in the raw. It’s so peaceful out there, I love it, but it needs more time than we had on our brief visit. And a longer lens!

  36. snowbird November 11, 2014 at 8:06 pm - Reply

    What a treat that must have been, I would have gone there too I simply LOATHE any type of shopping. Some stunning pics

    • Jessica November 11, 2014 at 10:32 pm - Reply

      Thanks snowbird. I have to be in the mood for shopping. I can’t remember when the last time was. But it was probably many many moons ago in Harvey Nicks (when there was only the Knightsbridge one) and then only after a stop at the bar on the fifth floor..

  37. Annie Edwards November 12, 2014 at 11:01 am - Reply

    super images. I have managed to get quite close to swans in a kayak, but then have the problem of trying to take a photo whilst preventing my paddle from slipping into the water. By the way, I have clicked to get email updates a couple of times on your blog, but don’t receive them (hence I’m always late here!) – am I going wrong somewhere?

    • Jessica November 12, 2014 at 5:21 pm - Reply

      I think I would be nervous of getting close to a swan’s beak without the benefit of a perspex screen!

  38. Anna November 12, 2014 at 3:58 pm - Reply

    Slimbridge versus shopping Jessica – now there’s a close hand to call 🙂 What a great way to unwind and so much more relaxing than fighting of throngs of shoppers. I love the photos of the flamingos – they look so exotic and almost as if they should be a sunny and warm somewhere else.

    • Jessica November 12, 2014 at 5:26 pm - Reply

      The bright pink ones make me feel warm and sunny just looking at them but yes, I kind of want to see a bit of shimmering heat around them.

  39. Annie Edwards November 12, 2014 at 4:49 pm - Reply

    Hi Jessica, Please ignore my previous question, as I think I have now worked it out! I was commenting under my Google account which I think is linked to an email address which I never use. This comment has my email address attached, so hopefully …

    • Jessica November 12, 2014 at 5:30 pm - Reply

      I’ve checked the log and it is the email on this comment that’s registered, so the updates should be going to that address. If they aren’t maybe try cancelling the subscription and then setting it up again? Let me know if it continues to be a problem and I’ll see if I can get it fixed by someone. Thanks Annie.

  40. willisjw November 13, 2014 at 3:32 am - Reply

    What a great assortment. I’m usually challenged to get close enough to the birds I want to photograph. But in this case I can see where a telephoto lens might have been a disadvantage. I really like that Bar-headed goose. Would love to see one in the wild.

    • Jessica November 13, 2014 at 10:06 am - Reply

      The birds have become very used to people at Slimbridge, you can get really close to them which is lovely. But nothing beats seeing them in the wild, especially if it’s in the Himalayas. Your photos have really got me wanting to go there.

  41. Beth @ PlantPostings November 13, 2014 at 4:05 am - Reply

    What beautiful images of majestic birds! The mirror images and the water shots are especially delightful–definitely frame-worthy!

    • Jessica November 13, 2014 at 10:11 am - Reply

      Thanks Beth. I could watch them for hours, only the diminishing light and temperatures stopped play!

  42. sustainablemum November 13, 2014 at 8:42 am - Reply

    Whenever I see pictures of Slimbridge it always looks like a fantastic place to visit. We had a lovely day at Leighton Moss this week which is a closer to us than Slimbridge which I cannot see us ever visiting as it is so far and we don’t know anyone in the area to use as a base!

    • Jessica November 13, 2014 at 10:13 am - Reply

      There is something about birds on water that I find just so relaxing. And of course, they’re such characters. I didn’t have any shoelaces for them to pull undone this time unfortunately.

  43. Jeneane November 13, 2014 at 9:34 am - Reply

    What stunning photos Jessica. The lighting is exquisite and the you have given the birds such character. Interesting to see Slimbridge close-up as I’ve recently been reading about its history while researching some of the vintage china that I sell.

    • Jessica November 13, 2014 at 10:18 am - Reply

      They have character aplenty without me having to add it! It would be interesting to find out more about the history, I must do that. The Scotts’ original small cottage is still there, although possibly not lived in any more.

  44. Cathy November 16, 2014 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    I was going to congratulate you on the great photos, but you better give them to Mike instead! Definitely better than shopping, especially when it’s not the best time for garden visiting. Of, and don’t forget there are bloggers in the Midlands, at least one of whom would be happy for you to visit… 😉

    • Jessica November 16, 2014 at 9:16 pm - Reply

      I did think of you as we were zipping along the M42.. well, to the extent that you CAN zip along the M42. Next time it would be a pleasure! Thank you.

      • Cathy November 18, 2014 at 5:07 pm - Reply

        And only about 3 or 4 miles from either Jn 10 or Jn 11….

        • Jessica November 18, 2014 at 9:08 pm - Reply

          Thanks Cathy, I’ll remember for next time. Would be great to meet up!

  45. CherryPie November 16, 2014 at 11:45 pm - Reply

    A fabulous series of photographs. It is many years since I visited Slimbridge and you have brought back some happy memories for me 🙂

    • Jessica November 17, 2014 at 8:35 pm - Reply

      Thanks Cherie. I’ve always enjoyed a visit there too. Worried about reports of bird flu back in the news again today.

I'd love to hear from you..