I have spent the last couple of days mainly visiting my daughter Bronwen in Cheltenham.
Saturday saw me heading to Slimbridge first thing. It was cold and with ice and snow still around when I arrived just before 10am. I was surprised to find a Winter Festival event taking place and even more surprised to meet the guys from WildSounds and Country Innovation.
I am glad I decided to go around the reserve first even though it was so cold. Good numbers of Bewick's Swans were in and very active either washing on the Rushey Pool or feeding out on the frozen levels. Large numbers of Pochard, Pintail and Wigeon also noted. I spent some time sitting around the feeders and did see a couple of Bramblings but even though I caught quick glances of Water Rails none came out to pose for the camera. I did get some shots of a lone Rook hanging around the feeders. Then the rain came down and I headed indoors.
Wandering around the Festival the first obvious thing was the lack of public making all the exhibitors look very disappointed. I did chat to a very friendly young lady from Rectory Farm, Great Easton alongside Eyebrook Reservoir in Rutland. She was manning her stall for Eyebrook Wildbird Feeds (http://www.eyebrookwildbirdfeeds.co.uk/) and she explained how the farm was diversifying by growing wild bird food and allowing permissive paths for birding on the farm. I must pay a visit when going to the BirdFair next year.
We set off for home today in much better weather but stopped for a sandwich at the Speech House Arboretum car park in the Forest of Dean. Here a number of local people spread bird food on a large fallen log and some very good shots of our woodland birds can be obtained. It was busy with cars today but it did not stop the Nuthatches and many tit species from coming very close.
I suppose I should acknowledge that Beryl and I have been married for 46 years today. Quite unfashionable nowadays.I really do appreciate her love and support over the years and also becoming my birding companion both here, and in some very exotic foreign locations.