Slimbridge WWT

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Slimbridge photograph

Slimbridge WWT

Slimbridge WWT

WWT Slimbridge is a wetland wildlife reserve near Slimbridge in Gloucestershire, England. It is midway between Bristol and Gloucester on the eastern side of the estuary of the River Severn. The reserve, set up by the artist and naturalist Sir Peter Scott, opened in November 1946. Scott subsequently founded the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, which has since opened eight reserves around the country. Slimbridge comprises some 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of pasture, reed bed, lagoon and salt marsh. Many water birds live there all year round, and others are migrants on their ways to and from their summer breeding grounds. Other birds overwinter, including large numbers of white-fronted geese and increasing numbers of Bewick's swans pictured.

Besides having the world's largest collection of captive wildfowl, Slimbridge takes part in research and is involved in projects and internationally run captive breeding programmes. It was there that Peter Scott developed a method of recognising individual birds through their characteristics, after realising that the coloured patterns on the beaks of Bewick's swans were unique. The public can visit the reserve throughout the year. Besides examining the collections, they can view birds from hides and observatories and take part in educational activities.

The site consists of 800 hectares (2,000 acres) of reserve, of which part is landscaped and can be visited by the public. At Slimbridge is the largest collection of wildfowl species in the world, and wild birds mingle with these in the enclosures. Some of the captive birds form part of international breeding programmes. The reserve includes a mixture of pastureland, much of which gets flooded in winter, lagoons, reed beds and salt marshes besides the Severn Estuary. Many wildfowl visit the site including greater white-fronted geese, spoonbills, avocets and even common cranes, the latter being birds that were originally bred here and later released on the Somerset Levels. There are also some rare species of plant on the reserve including the grass-poly (Lythrum hyssopifolia) and the wasp orchid, a variant of the bee orchid (Ophrys apifera).

The number of ducks, geese and swans is greatest in winter, with large flocks of greater white-fronted geese, sometimes with a rare lesser white-fronted goose amongst them. Bewick's swans are a feature of Slimbridge in winter, arriving from northern Russia to enjoy the milder climate of southern England.Their behaviour has been studied intensively at Slimbridge. Birds of prey such as peregrine and merlin also visit the centre in the winter, as well as wading birds and some woodland birds, and it is a good place to see the elusive water rail.Wikipedia

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